Dar es Salaam. Rivers and streams that flow into the Indian Ocean in Dar es Salaam are increasingly being polluted.
Human and industrial activities around Mzinga and Kizinga streams as well as Mpiji and Msimbazi rivers have polluted them.
People living around the areas have turned the streams and rivers into dumpsites and disturbed alignments and natural water.
“They are being polluted by the concentration of high organic and nutrient, low dissolved oxygen, and high counts of indicator organisms from home and industrial activities,” National Environment Management Council (NEMC) director general Bonaventure Baya told The Citizen.
According to him, since Dar es Salaam rivers are not protected, their natural alignments are being disturbed by human activities.
The Citizen has established that the 36km Msimbazi River is the most polluted as it passes through human settlements and industries. Unless immediate intervention is made the river will be clogged and it will be difficult for water to flow, causing flooding and becoming a breeding ground of germs. Cholera may break out.
“When a large portion of watershed is drained by enlarged surface channels then the increased flood peaks may be expected, however the effect would be dumped where the contributions are detached,” said Mr Baya. “They are severely polluted, and their bacteria levels are as dangerous as the flooding itself.”
According to him, the Msimbazi River is a discharge site for textile mills, municipal waste stabilisation ponds and home sewage pipes
Environmental protection is a cross-cutting issue that needs participation from every member of the community.
For couple of years, wetlands and other reserved areas in Dar es Salaam have been invaded by humans. The suburbs include Buguruni kwa Mnyamani, the Msimbazi River Valley, Keko Mwanga, Msasani Bonde la Mpunga and the Kigogo River Valley which collect water from various streams and pour into the Msimbazi River. All the areas have been inhabited despite government’s warnings and various measures to move them.
A resident of Tabata Mawenzi in Ilala Municipality in the city, Mr John Eliezer, has called on the government to educate the public on ways of protecting rivers and the environment in general.
“The majority of us are unaware of the importance of conserving the environment. Education should come first before implementing laws,” he said
Ms Aziza Swaleh, of Mbagala suburb in Temeke District, said: “Proper river management is all about civilisation, not skills. Most people think environmental conservation should solely be done by the government. That’s not the case. It should start from them. Knowing the dangers of throwing waste into a river is just common sense. One shouldn’t be a rocket scientist to know that.”
According to Mr Baya, NEMC has sent a proposal to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to secure funds for protecting Dar es Salaam rivers.
“The money will be spent on the Dar es Salaam river project although we can extend it to educating the public on how to assist the government on proper maintenance of natural water.”
UNEP is determined to promote coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development to enable nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.
Gracing the nation stakeholders’ workshop on knowledge and experience sharing for waterfront development in October last year, the minister of State in the Vice President’s Office (Union and Environment), Mr Mr January Makamba, raised concern that failure to adhere to environment laws if environmental laws was dangerous for the country’s major rivers as they might dry up in the next 20 years. He said unless interventions were made immediately, the pollution level in water sources was shocking, and posed a great danger to human lives.
“Then there is danger for losing all major rivers across the county in the next 20 years,” he warned.
Due to the high-level of pollution, the quality of river water is sharply declining, and wouldn’t be safer for consumption, domestic uses or even irrigation.
The iron and plastic waste was also seen running-off from industrial areas of Vingunguti and Buguruni in the city.
Since the rivers are polluted, they produce pungent smell, making people in surrounding areas uncomfortable.
So, if city residents want to enjoy using river water around their settlements, pollution must stop.