Thousands of bottles, cans and other rubbish thrown into the lake caused the shutdown of the Ruzizi dam facilities near the city of Bukavu, thus causing power cuts in several localities.
“The impact is huge, we have a deficit of 6.3 megawatts (MW) out of a total of 30 MW that we have to produce, not only for the province of South Kivu, but also for the neighboring province of North Kivu and Burundi. “, Liévin Chizungu, production manager at the Ruzizi 1 factory, told an Agence France Press (AFP) team.
An official from the national electricity company (SNEL) says there is also another generator failure at the Ruzizi II power station, about 25 kilometers south of Bukavu, also caused by pollution, which is causing a 20 MW deficit on the distribution network.
The local populations of the towns bordering the vast lake are responsible for this situation, which has lasted since the beginning of the year 2022. The pollution caused by the garbage they throw into the lake overnight damages the power plant and ends up causing frequent power outages.
“There is no way to manage household waste. Our houses are stuck together on small plots, I have no choice but to throw them into the Kawa River which overlooks the lake“, justifies a resident of the lake, Mathilde Binja, a housewife.
It is extremely difficult to clean the thousands of plastic bottles and other debris which are attracted to the Ruzizi dam at the end of the lake, which stretches over 90 km on the border between the DRC and Rwanda.
“All the waste we throw into the lake or the river ends up here, regardless of where it was thrown. Even in Goma, the waste dumped there is only a matter of time. As the lake flows towards the Ruzizi River, little by little, the waste comes and in the end, it will end up here,” notes Liévin Chizungu.
According to the production manager of the Ruzizi 1 plant, this waste is piled up in the facilities “at a depth of 14 meters”.
Cleaning operations are carried out regularly, with the help of boats on the surface to avoid a definitive shutdown of the turbines. And divers will collect waste up to 14 meters at the bottom of the lake.
The provincial authorities are trying to educate the population to show them that the lake or the surrounding waterways are not the place to dump waste. “Keeping Lake Kivu’s environment healthy will help reduce pollution and preserve electricity distribution.
It should be noted that the city of Nairobi in Kenya hosted a conference in early March 2022 during which the United Nations launched negotiations for a global treaty against plastic pollution, a scourge that threatens the environment and contributes to the loss of biodiversity.