Kisumu’s infamous dumpsite that feeds the rich and poor

Trucks at the Kisumu Kachok dumpsite on November 18th 2017. (Collins Oduor, standard)


Opposition leader Raila Odinga’s impromptu visit to Kachok dumpsite in the outskirts of the Kisumu central business district last week gave a new twist to its controversial relocation.

His visit, besides meeting Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o had a great importance to the county government, which is facing resistance from local villagers in Kajulu area over plans to use the quarry as a dumping site for millions of tons of garbage from Kachok.

Kajulu residents have rejected plans to relocate the dumpsite there, saying it will pose health risks.

Although he did not make a statement over the controversy surrounding the new dumpsite, his visit is an indication that he is supporting the county’s plans to relocate the dumpsite.

The dumpsite has turned into a hill of shorts. It has been a campaign issue for the past decade. It has also been a cash cow for a few individuals who have used its abortive relocation plans to make money.

When Prof Nyong’o took oath of office, relocation of Kachok dumpsite topped his agenda. True to his word, the governor moved with speed to deliver his promise.

The Kenya Airports Authority had initially raised the red flag over the Kajulu site, saying it fell on the Flight path, and feared that birds scavenging the site could cause risks to planes.

But last week, Nyong’o got temporary reprieve when Kenya Airports Authority gave the county the green light to transfer their waste to Kajulu, albeit with conditions.

The county has so far undertaken the relocation within two months. The authority also demanded that no fresh waste is taken to the site, and that once filled, the quarries have to be covered and the area ceases to be a dumping site.

This will leave the county with nowhere to take the extra waste generated after the removal of the heap at Kachok.

Sources within the Ministry of Lands have divulged that the four-acre land where the current dumpsite sits is a private property, having been acquired by a local prominent businessman.

“The land was previously a property of the Municipal Council, but was sold through unclear terms, and the county may have no say on it after the removal of the waste,” said the source.

According to the source, the Kachok site was once a quarry left open after extraction of material for the construction of Kisumu-Nairobi road, before it later changed hands. However, Nyong’o last week announced that Sh80 million has since been set aside for the removal of the waste, with works set to commence soon.

But even as the governor celebrates having achieved the first step of removing the heap of waste, it now emerges that the move could just be temporary.

Strict instructions

According to an environmental expert who sought anonymity, the said quarry can accommodate not more than 60,000 tonnes of solid waste.

“Remember 60,000 tonnes is just three years waste collection. Kachok dump site has been in existence for the past three decades. Where will the rest of waste go?” He posed.

It has also emerged that Kisumu has never had a waste disposal site since the inception of the town in the early 1900.

“Previously, the population in Kisumu was low and the authorities had strict instructions for people to manage their domestic waste through burying or burning. But with the population upsurge and the coming up of markets, it proved impossible,” said a former senior Kisumu Municipal Council employee.

In 2006, French-government-sponsored Kisumu Urban Project (KUP) was initiated, and which would have provided the solution to the waste menace.

The project allocated Sh800 million for establishment of a sanitary landfill, where al solid wastes would be collected and recycled. The project has, however, hit a snug after the county government failed to procure land for the implementation of the project.

In 2015, the county government acquired a 30-acre parcel of land at Muhoroni, 41 kilometres from Kisumu, but the land was rejected by the project funders, terming it not viable as it would be expensive to transport the waste.

One of the conditions given by the funders was to have the sanitary landfill site within a radius of 21 kilometres from Kisumu town. County Executive Member for Environment Salmon Orimba has admitted that the challenge of solid waste management will not end with the removal of the heap from Kachok.

“We are well aware of the impending challenges, and that is why we are currently working round the clock to secure an energy generation company to be set up here to provide a permanent solution to this menace,” said Orimba.