With increased cases of Covid-19, there is fear that there could be many deaths and little space for burials.
If so, is Mombasa County ready to bury its loved ones in a dignified way?
The family of Ursla Bulimo, a former Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) employee who died of Covid-19, was lucky to secure a Sh6,000 grave at the Commonwealth Mbaraki Cemetery.
As the name suggests, the cemetery has been there for many years. Currently, it is filling up quickly as it is reserved for Christians, both Catholics and Protestants. Mombasa County Environment Executive Nato Nyongesa confirmed that the facility is almost getting full and it will not be long before residents face a challenge.
“Yes I know the Mbaraki one is nearly full but at the moment, we are not in any crisis because we still have other cemeteries that still have space for more graves,” Nyongesa said.
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But Mbaraki is not even among the oldest.
Mazrui Cemetery in Old Town has existed since 16th century and has under it bodies of prominent personalities from the county, including the Oman rulers.
Some of the other cemeteries like Kikowani were closed down by the defunct Mombasa Municipal Council.
“The cemetery was full and we had to close it when I was a councillor, but it was opened later by the county government.
“We know we need to find other places but let’s pray that we don’t get to that point of mass graves,” said Mohammed Hatimy, a nominated MCA.
Another cemetery that is full is the Commonwealth War Graves at Manyimbo, where most unclaimed bodies were previously buried.
Others are Maziyara ya Ganjoni, Sargoi Cemetery, Tudor Muslim Cemetery and Majengo Community Cemetery, which serves Muslims, while Khoja Shia Ithini-Ashari Cemetery and Cutchi Sunni Muslims Jamat Corp are for Indian Muslims.
Makaburini graveyard in Kongowea is the largest cemetery away from the Mombasa island.
“It also has enough space but the only slight challenge is encroachment,” Nyongesa said. Those who would wish to cremate their loved ones do so at the Hindu crematorium at Buxton.
Although Mombasa has many cemeteries, most of them are full as they have been in existence for centuries.
Geographically, Mombasa is the smallest county at 219.9 square kilometres.
However, it is the second largest city after Nairobi and the oldest, with a population of 3,528,940, thus the demand for cemetery services is high.