Mai Mahiu area is a sleepy truck stop town located along the Nairobi – Naivasha road, using the Longonot route at the bottom of the escarpment. It’s a quiet and rather dry area, being on the leeward side of the mountain, Mt Longonot. We have a family farm around that area, seven kilometres away from Mai Mahiu town, towards Naivasha. The area’s soil is quite loose and easily washed away during heavy rain.
This means that the area is crisscrossed with large gullies that also act as seasonal rivers during the rainy season.
What happens when it rains is that the loose soil at the bottom of these gullies gets washed away, and depending on where the water finally stops, there will be quite some soil deposit at the end of it.
This is where the whole crux of the problem begins in our area. There are quite a few people there who engage in illegal sand harvesting. The involved parties come with trucks and young men, drive the trucks to the bottom of the gullies and dig up the sand, loading onto their lorries and driving off. The issue here is that they dig up the sand from anywhere, without thinking about the erosion that comes after.
When the sand starts to run out, they start to scope the bottom of the gullies and just dig up anywhere. Where the gully passes through is close to people’s lands. Some land is actually being eaten by the constant growth and erosion of the gullies. Any attempt to stop or dissuade the illegal sand harvesters from continuing this practice is either met with no response or sometimes even violence.
The heavy lorries that transport the sand destroy the murram road used in this area; the people involved seldom fix the road unless it becomes impassable. During heavy rains, the gullies become very dangerous to humans and animals because they can slip and fall into the flowing water since not all crossings over the gulleys have bridges over them. A few area residents have died in this manner.
The local area residents are trying their best to combat the growth of these gullies by preventing further digging. I believe that more can be done to mitigate the gully erosion, if not stopping their growth completely. The people responsible need to install gubbions on the sides of the gulleys to prevent more soil erosion during heavy rains. They also need to build bridges over the road crossings to ensure the safety of the people crossing during heavy rains is guaranteed. Finally community education on the causes of soil erosion, and how to deal with them should be conducted.
My hope is to not only stop this practice, but to also get the gubbions built into these gullies to prevent any further destruction of the land and getting closer and closer to houses on the lands affected by the gullies.