Governor Nassir joins in clean-up exercise at public cemeteries

Mombasa Governor Abdulswamad Shariff Nassir and his Deputy Francis Thoya during the cleaning of Manyimbo Public Cemetery in Tudor ward after attending an inter-denominational prayer meeting. [File, Standard]

County government officials cleaned cemeteries and public places which have for years been turned into dumpsites.

Mombasa Governor Abdulswamad Nassir ordered residents to stop dumping garbage in the cemeteries and other illegal dumpsites.

Nassir and his deputy Francis Thoya cleaned Manyimbo Public Cemetery in Tudor ward after attending an inter-denominational prayer meeting. They also removed mounds of garbage from other cemeteries and illegal dumpsites

Soon after the prayer service, the county chief presided over the construction of a wall around Manyimbo cemetery which also has a war memorial grave site, including a section for Muslims and Christians.

Mr Francis Juma, a resident of Miritini, Vikobani village, said he has several relatives buried at the site and had agonised over how the graves were fast disappearing because of heaps of garbage.

"I was furious and at one time contemplated going on a hunger strike to compel the then city fathers to act on this unfair way of treating our dead people. I feel relieved today after seeing Nassir and his team clear garbage and order the restoration of this place," Juma, a construction worker, said.

Quick buck

Garbage collectors out to make a quick buck worsened the situation after they turned some public cemeteries into dumping sites. Cemeteries that have suffered the same fate include Kongowea and Mbaraki.

"Here, the dead knew no peace as their resting places were turned into dumpsites. It is shocking that the former administration knew about it but did nothing," Polycarp Evans said.

He said they could not trace the grave of a relative who was buried at Kongowea Cemetry in the 80s. He died in Europe and his remains were ferried to Kenya for burial.

"We had erected a tombstone but it was stolen. Since it took us time to visit the grave, and by the time we went there it had completely disappeared under mounds of garbage," Evans said.

There were reports of traders who had not found space at Kongowea Market selling their wares from the cemetery.

Environmental expert Benson Wemali said pollution was responsible for the rise in respiratory diseases.

“Mixing dead bodies and solid waste will cause a catastrophe in Mombasa. You are not supposed to dump anything in a cemetery. It is not a dumping site," said Wemali.

“We have designated dumping sites. Why dump in a cemetery? Cemeteries are protected areas by the people and the government.”

Wemali cited Muslim cemeteries as those that are well protected, with clear signage. 

“The faithful know the importance of respecting the graveyards,” he said.