Lake gives vehicles a sparkle, chokes fish with harmful oil



Car washing in Kenya’s lakes is said to deposit considerably harmful amounts of used oil into the water bodies.

In Kisumu County, car washers have been operating along the shores of Lake Victoria for several years despite numerous attempts to stop them by environmental conservation bodies and the county government.

At Lwang’ni Beach, oil trucks, buses, cars, tuk tuk taxis and boda boda motorcycles are driven into the lake where they are washed. The oil and old paint from the vehicles find their way into the lake.

Michael Otieno has been engaged in the business for ten years now although he often fights with the county government over evacuation from the shores. The car wash business is lucrative. Otieno and his group charge Sh700 to wash a bus or lorry while a saloon car costs owners up to Sh200.

“It also depends on the driver’s status and the car. The more expensive a car is, the more we charge,” he says. Despite being given designated car wash sites within town, the men in the business prefer the lake for its free water and the untaxed site.

All the car washes along the lakeshore in Kisumu were to be moved to five established sites in Kondele, Kaloleni and Moi Stadium.



62862535“We know washing cars here may be harmful to some types of fish but some also like the waste from the vehicles,” argued one of the car wash men at Lwang’ni.

Otieno argues that the oil spills keep away from the shores deadly snakes that would otherwise cause harm to other users of the lake. Activities towards the protection of the lake and its inlets have been in existence for a while but little seems to have been achieved. Some active stakeholders in the protection of the lake include Water Resources Management Authority (WRMA) and Lake Victoria Environmental Management Project.

WRMA Governing Board chair Peter Kiilu noted that water resources in the country are at risk of depletion due to invasion and pollution by people.

In March, WRMA launched a programme to restore polluted water resources across the county to save water sources.

– Source:

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