Court case puts damper on bid to set up waste recycling plant

A section of Dandora dumpsite with a huge mountain of garbage. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

A contract issued by Nairobi County to a Chinese company to build a recycling plant may perhaps be the latest effort by Nairobi County to deal with the Dandora dumpsite menace.

 However, there is no white smoke yet as a separate case was filed challenging the Sh47 billion tender floated by Nairobi County.

Environment and Lands Court Judge Edward Wabwoto issued the order barring the Nairobi City County Government from awarding the Sh47 billion contract to China Electric Engineering Company pending the determination of a suit filed by a resident challenging the project.

In the case, Gitari argued that putting a waste recycling plant in the same location where the county government has been ordered to stop the disposal of waste is disrespectful to the judiciary and a waste of public resources.

“The amount of public resources in the project is Sh47 billion which is too high and means that the public is likely to suffer extensive financial losses in the event that the company is allowed to proceed with the construction,” said Gitari.

Mbae, a resident of Dandora, swore in his affidavit that they are suffering because of the choking foul smell emanating from the dumpsite and that building the recycling plant will not be a solution to the waste problem.

He claimed that the construction of a waste-to-energy plant within the Dandora dumpsite will involve the burning of toxic and radioactive substances with the emissions going directly to households, which poses a risk to their health.

He accused the county government of operating the dumpsite in disregard of the court order that they relocate to another area and without observing the health guidelines imposed by the court.

“The court had previously given the county six months to relocate the dumpsite from July 2021 but instead of complying with the order, they are bringing another company to build a recycling plant which shows they have no intention to relocate the dumpsite,” said Mbae.

Mbae said there was no public participation. Justice Wabwoto gave the county government 14 days to respond and scheduled the hearing on October 23.

This is the fourth time the county has tried to resolve the waste menace but in vain.

The other contract was between KenGen and the now-defunct Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS).

The two were to build a garbage-powered electricity generation plant, which was meant to be put up at Nairobi’s Ruai at Sh22.41 billion.

The two entities signed a deal in August 2020 where KenGen would finance, build and operate the plant while NMS would provide the land as well as supply municipal waste once the plant becomes operational.

NMS was also to construct a dedicated lane from the Outering Road junction to Ruai to enhance the flow of trucks delivering waste to the power plant.

“The project with an installed capacity of 45MW shall be constructed over a period of three years at a cost of $198.3 million (Sh22.41 billion) with 70 percent of it being debt at an interest rate of six percent with a payback period of 15 years,” said KenGen in an environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) report lodged with National Environment Management Authority (Nema).

The waste-to-energy plant was initially planned to be built at the Dandora dumpsite.

But this later changed to the Ruai Sewage Treatment plant after the Environment Court ordered the county to shut down the dumpsite and relocate it to a more environmentally friendly location.

The project was to be built on a 27-hectare piece of land owned by the Nairobi County Government in Ruai, where Athi Water Works Development Agency operates the sewage treatment plant. The sewage plant sits on 4,000 acres.

In the ESIA report, KenGen said it would take waste from Dandora and use it as feedstock, which would then be burned to generate energy at the plant.