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Muthurwa food market sinks in piles of garbage

 Mounds of garbage at Muthurwa Market, Nairobi, May 23, 2024. [Pkemoi Ng'enoh, Standard]

A section of traders at Muthurwa market in Nairobi are now calling on the County to address the persistent garbage menace marring the market.

For several weeks now, mountains of garbage have been piling up despite pleas by the traders to the City-County to clear the site, which has now attracted scavengers including stray pigs and dogs.

On the one end, cows and street families forage for food under smelly sludge while on the other, traders sell their wares including fruits and vegetables just metres away.

The thick sludge from the garbage flows all the way to the open stalls where traders display their wares, leaving a pungent stench in the air.

“It has been like this since the start of the rainy season, in fact, some traders have been forced to close their stalls due to the nauseating smell emanating from the garbage,” a trader, Dan Mungai said.

“We have been reaching out to the county to collect the garbage at least every evening but no one hears our pleas, we are on our own,” he added.

Another trader said apart from the garbage menace, the market does not have enough toilets and clean water despite promises by political leaders.

“Some traders relieve themselves behind the stalls because there are no clean toilets and the available ones sometimes don’t have water, it is a pathetic state,” she shared.

The deplorable state of the market is putting at risk the health of millions of consumers who source foodstuff from Muthurwa and other markets within the city centre. 

Muthurwa market Chairman Nelson Githaiga said garbage collection has not been regularised in the market, adding that garbage has not been collected for three weeks now.

“We have been making some inquiries about the delay in collection and shockingly, we were informed that the County garbage trucks did not have fuel,” Githaiga claimed.

“This is not only a health hazard but it has also affected both traders and customers, sometimes the spillage blocks access roads,” he added.

Githaiga noted that the market has been turned into a garbage collection point and some traders outside their market are sneaking in their garbage and dumping it there.

“All kinds of garbage from the city centre are brought to the market, some traders do that to avoid paying collectors in their premises,” he said. “This is a disaster waiting to explode and the County has been reluctant to address it once and for all."

Nairobi County Chief Officer for Mobility Boniface Nyamu dismissed claims that the county garbage trucks have been without fuel for some time now.

“I have heard about the same claim but it is just propaganda, we have talked to those in charge of the collection and the matter is being sorted out,” Nyamu explained.

However, Public Health expert Collins Lando warns that those selling next to untreated sewage or garbage are exposing customers to deadly diseases.

“A good example is the flies that land on the waste and then land on the foodstuffs, in fact not all people wash stuff like fruits or beef before eating them and in such circumstances it will expose one to cholera which kills in a short time,” he says.

He said those selling in such places are at risk because they breathe in toxic gases which cause chronic diseases.

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