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Rapidly growing Kapsabet town choking with congestion, trash

 Kapsabet County Referral Hospital cemetery turned to garbage dump site in Nandi. [Edward Kosut, Standard]

It is about midday in Kapsabet, Nandi County’s capital. A traffic snarl-up is building up along one of the streets. 

It turns out that county enforcement officers have clamped a vehicle and a fierce altercation with the driver has ensued. 

The officers are accusing the driver of failing to pay regular parking fees of Sh100 but the motorist is angry, saying he was still in transit.

He argues that he was caught up in slow-moving traffic and he had no intention to park his car at any point before the county revenue officers in yellow coats pounced and intercepted him.

"They demanded that I pay a fee yet I was still driving through traffic. And they went ahead to clamp my car in the middle of the traffic. They eventually forced me to pay Sh2,000 penalty for noncompliance,” narrates the driver, Wilson Tirop, who noted that there were no parking slots marked on the road. 

The streets of Kapsabet town have lately become the cause of frequent confrontations between motorists and county revenue officials.

Although the growing capital of Nandi County has only a few streets, most of them are narrow and ridden with potholes, causing motorists to move at snail speed. Poor urban infrastructures and general management of the market centres are wanting despite over 10 years since the inception of devolution.

Initially, the county had formulated its  urban development master plan that would help to resolve various challenges including solid waste management, sewer system, water supply and restructuring of Kapsabet town.

But it has taken ages to be effected and locals are grappling with waste and sordid leaking sewer lines from the backstreets to residential areas within Kapsabet municipality.

The county has converted a public cemetery that is adjacent to Kapsabet County Referral Hospital, into a dumpsite and it exposes the facility and households to health hazards.

“It has become an eyesore to the public. Livestock is loitering all over, grazing on waste as the municipality trucks continue to load more waste collected from the market centres across the county,” said Caroline Jeptoo, a businesswoman.

In 2019, the county set aside Sh10 million to purchase a dumpsite land but the initiative has not been executed locals and environmentalists have raised concerns about the state of waste management in the county.

The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has warned the county government against dumping solid waste on the cemetery land and directed for a relocation to safer sites.

Also, sewer leakage menace is wanting and the locals endure a pungent smell emanating from collapsed lines connecting various estates.

Among the affected residential areas included Kamobo, Kosirai, Kokwet, East View and Namgoi market.

Christopher Kemboi, a real estate owner, revealed that most of the residential houses are not connected to existing lines and the households devised their way to dispose of their waste in the septic tanks and pits.

“Kapsabet is rapidly growing but there is a shortage of hygienic amenities. The existing sewer line is faulty and we have urged the county to fix it but in vain,” he said.

He said the town needs face-lifting to attract investors but so far, the environment is not appealing to set up major industrial establishments and expansion of the urban center.

In the 2018/2019 Finance Year, the county government of Nandi benefited from World Bank development funds amounting to Sh200 million under the Kenya Urban Support Program (KUSP) but questions were raised over its utilisation.

“There was misappropriation and little can be said of its impact. The huge amount of money was only used to put up three kilometres of footpath between Kapsabet town and Namgoi Market and street lights,” stated Kemboi, claiming that the money would have been used to develop the urban centre to attract investors.

Governor Stephen Sang acknowledged the failed hygienic system and claimed that the water and sewerage projects worth Sh16 billion will help to fix obsolete sewer lines in Kapsabet and Nandi Hills towns.

He said that the existing sewerage system was established close to 30 years and it needs a total overhaul and extension of new lines in the estates.

“We have faced opposition whenever we want to procure land to establish a dumping site. The potential sellers have been inflating the buying prices or even protestation from the residents rejecting the initiative in fear of health dangers,” he stated.

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