Why Nairobi garbage collection model is flawed

Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja. [File, Standard]

Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja is spearheading a push for reforms in the city's garbage collection strategy, citing its current model as “unsustainable.”

Appearing on Citizen TV yesterday, Sakaja criticised the existing billing system, saying, "A lot of these bills were untenable. If you calculate the weight charged, it would appear as though we collect nine thousand tons of garbage daily, yet Nairobi's actual production is around three thousand tonnes."

Addressing longstanding challenges in garbage collection, the County boss said that resolving them comprehensively will take time.

The challenges include delays in settling dues owed to contractors, which sometimes result in sluggish work and areas of the city suffering from poor air quality.

To bolster Nairobi's internal garbage collection capacity, he emphasizes the need for acquiring new tipper trucks.

He also advocated for adopting a circular economy approach, saying "circular economy is the way to go. We've procured more than fifty skips, ten skip loaders, 24 tippers, and another 24 refuse compactors."

A significant development in waste management is the planned power generation plant at the Dandora dumpsite, which will convert waste into electric energy. The contract for this waste-to-energy project has been awarded to the China National Electric and Engineering Company, with an expected output of forty-five megawatts.

Nairobi has also mobilized a "green army" of 3,500 individuals tasked with cleaning the city and ensuring proper waste disposal. Partnering with Community-Based Organizations (CBOs), these efforts aim to collect waste at centralized points before scheduled collection days.

However, recent findings from Auditor General Nancy Gathungu reveal shortcomings in Nairobi's waste management practices, including irregularities in the procurement of 27 tipper trucks, purchased at an inflated cost of Sh771 million.

City Hall has also failed to demonstrate ownership of 35 out of 50 hectares of the Dandora Dumpsite, where weighbridge tickets were found to be handwritten rather than printed. Moreover, contractors exceeded waste handling limits during the 2022/2023 fiscal year.