By Angel Mutai

Mombasa: 24/09/2023: In a collaborative effort to address the ecological challenges posed by the construction of the Mkupe bridge in Mombasa County, several organizations came together on Saturday for a mangrove conservation project in the Mkupe area.

In partnership with Ken Gen, Bike is Best, Logos Hope, and Oshwal Academy, Blue Radio joined forces with local villagers and the Mombasa County government to plant more than 4,400 mangrove trees.

The Blue Radio team during the mangrove restoration project at Mkupe.
Photo: Patrick Were

Mkupe, the site of the forthcoming Mkupe bridge connecting to the Dongo Kundu Special Economic Zone (SEZ), has witnessed the degradation of its mangrove forests due to bridge construction. While the bridge is seen as a welcome government initiative, its construction has brought ecological concerns to the forefront.

The collaborative effort was driven by a shared commitment to preserving the environmental integrity of the region. The participating organizations and the predominantly fishing and fish-selling villagers stressed the importance of maintaining a clean and uncontaminated environment. They aimed to combat issues like plastic pollution and the disruptive noise pollution caused by the bridge construction.

Ramah Chirima, a resident of Tsunza and a fisherman, shared his perspective on the situation, saying, “While recognizing the development opportunities the bridge brings, we can’t ignore the significant hardships faced by our community. The construction noise has disrupted our lives and driven fish away, forcing us to venture further into the open ocean to fish.”

Community sensitization by Blue Radio and Bike is Best.
Photo: Patrick Were

Moreover, the construction process unintentionally led to increased water pollution, adversely affecting the aquatic ecosystem. Crabs, fish, and prawns have left their natural habitats. Despite the promise of development, the Tsunza community has endured both suffering and ecological disturbances due to the ongoing construction efforts.

Ramah’s plea for government intervention to address the issue of plastics and safeguard the ocean has received support from the Rafiki Peps organization. This collaboration tackles the critical problem of plastic pollution in the region.

Rafiki Peps, a youth-driven organization, has taken up the mission of advocating for responsible waste management practices. They focus on collecting and properly segregating waste, with a strong emphasis on plastic recycling. Terry, the co-founder of Rafiki Peps, emphasized the urgency of their mission by highlighting the long-lasting environmental and health risks posed by plastics.

The entire team that participated in the mangrove restoration project.
Photo: Patrick Were

Terry pointed out the direct link between plastic pollution, contaminated fish, and potential health hazards for humans. She expressed concerns about the prolonged exposure to harmful substances within plastics, which, when consumed through contaminated seafood, could lead to health issues, including cancer.

Rafiki Peps is dedicated to raising awareness about the detrimental effects of plastics on the ecosystem. They work towards educating the local community and promoting responsible plastic waste disposal practices, all with the ultimate goal of preserving the delicate balance of the marine environment. Through this joint endeavor, Ramah, Terry, and Rafiki Peps are striving to positively impact the environment and public health, with the hope of reducing the harmful consequences of plastic pollution in their community.