Kitui: Senior county officials accused of aiding illegal sand harvesting
The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has slammed senior officials of the Kitui County Government for aiding illegal sand harvesting.
The anti-graft agency has also accused senior officials representing the National Administration in the county (including senior police officers) of being part of criminal networks within Kitui County that are responsible for the ongoing illegal sand harvesting that continues to cause severe damage to the environment.
According to EACC, some senior government officials in Kitui County are offering protection to private persons and entities harvesting the sand and sharing the proceeds with government officials.
EACC says that lorries ferrying sand from Mwingi rivers are stopped at various roadblocks where each one of them pays Ksh6,000, which does not go to the County Government.
Millions in Kitui
The Commission, through its spokesperson Eric Ngumbi, on Sunday, June 25, 2023, disclosed that an ongoing probe by the Commission has shown that the senior Government officials in Kitui share millions of money from the illegal sale of sand on a weekly basis. The official was speaking in a function at Kauwi Ward in Kitui West.
"The Kitui senior officials have authorized and colluded with private entities to make money by destroying the environment, which amounts to sabotage of the ongoing efforts to address the challenges of corruption and climate change in the country," Ngumbi said.
To show the magnitude of the problem, Ngumbi said that on April 12, 2023, EACC arrested four private persons who had mounted illegal roadblocks on Mwingi- Matuu Road where each lorry carrying sand pays Ksh6,000. When the suspects were released on bond at Kanyonyo Police Station pending further probe, they all went straight back to the site and continued with the illegal collections, according to EACC.
He said this is because they enjoy protection from the Kitui Government officials. When the arrest was made, Ksh174,000 collected in about three hours was recovered.
The official said that the Commission was finalizing the investigation whose outcome will inform the actions to be taken against both the Government officials and private persons involved.
As part of addressing the problem, EACC challenged the Kitui County Assembly to take up its role of oversight to hold the County Executive Officials involved in this scam to account even as EACC continues with investigations.
The County Assembly was also asked to consider enacting appropriate legislation towards addressing the sand harvesting problem which EACC termed a big threat to the environment and welfare of Kitui residents.