At Plot 10 area in Pipeline Ward, Nairobi County, a foul smell wafts out of a garbage pit, choking one out of breath. If your curiosity gets the better of you and you decide to look, it is an eyesore; garbage overflowing the pit, some scattered onto the filthy, muddy streets.
It is inconceivable that people live amidst this filth. Not that they have much of a choice, and their fear of an outbreak of avoidable diseases is not far-fetched.
“Our church is located near of the garbage collection points, and when the trash is not collected even for just two days, we cannot have smooth service due to the smell,” says Pst George Kerosi of Free Pentecostal Fellowship in Kenya.
“This has forced us to almost permanently close the door that opens towards the garbage pit. We hope the garbage will be collected soon.”
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For traders selling their wares along the estate roads, including food items, the place is inoperable and business is dwindling fast because even the customers cannot withstand the stench.
“We now fear the fruits we are selling could transmit diseases to clients due to flies that come from the pits. For our businesses to survive the garbage needs to be collected more regularly,” says Anne Wanjiku.
Near Tumaini Supermarket, where there is a busy junction, there is another overflowing garbage pit. Here, pedestrians, boda boda operators and vehicles normally fight for space along the narrow path. Now one has to choose between walking on trash or on the way of motorbike or a car and risk an accident.
“Evenings and mornings are the worst times to pass here. There is push and shove as everyone struggles for space. All this has been caused by this garbage pit. Social distancing is alien here amid the raging Covid-19 infections,” says Erick Gatobu, a boda boda rider.
Our spot check continues through Pipeline estate roads towards Kware Ward and the situation is the same, if not worse.
In Tassia Estate, the road between Tassia Catholic Church and Tassia Hill High School is littered with garbage dumped on the road, and residents using the stretch have to wear gumboots even on sunny days.
The situation is no different a few kilometres away in Umoja Estate.
“For more than two weeks now, garbage has not been collected and we don’t know why. If the situation continues like this, we fear there would be an outbreak of diseases like cholera,” says William Juma, a clothes seller along Manyanja Road.
When we reach Huruma, it is clear that the problem is not unique to Embakasi South Constituency. The entire Eastlands is full of filth.
According to Pipeline MCA Stephen Gikonyo, who is also a member of the County Assembly Health Committee, the problem has been caused by non-payment of garbage “stakeholders”.
No entry to dumpsite
“As you know environment is one of the transferred functions to Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS). But due to non-payment, the stakeholders at Dandora dumpsite have blocked the entry of all garbage trucks to the dumpsite. Not even one truck can access the site,” says Gikonyo.
“We now hope that after MCAs passed the budget on Wednesday without amendment as governor Mike Sonko had wanted, the stakeholders will soon be paid so that the garbage collection resumes.”
Last month, governor Sonko refused to assent to the Nairobi City County Appropriation Bill 2020 that had been approved by the County Assembly and instead returned it to Speaker Benjamin Mutura with a memorandum.
The budget had allocated Sh27.1 billion to NMS for transferred functions, including Health, Housing, Transport, Public Works and Environment, leaving Sonko with only Sh8.4 billion to run the remaining dockets.
The assembly’s Finance, Budget and Appropriations Committee Chairperson, Robert Mbatia, defended the move by MCAs to reject the amendments, saying it was a win for Nairobi residents who are in dire need of services.
Mbatia said this should not be seen as a contest between Sonko and the assembly or that of the governor and NMS. Sonko had wanted the assembly to reduce the budget from Sh37.4 billion to Sh31.6 billion in accordance with County Fiscal Strategy Paper 2020/21 and the budget estimates presented to it by the Executive.
He also recently rejected the allocation of Sh1.6 billion to NMS for inspectorate services, transfer of the Sh1.3 billion Ward Development Fund as well as the entire allocations for health, public works, transport and infrastructure, environment and urban renewal and housing from his office to NMS.
“We are waiting for seven days if he will not have assented, then the Bill will become a law and the Controller of Budget will hand over the money to NMS to help in service delivery,” said Gikonyo.
Reached for comment on when collection of garbage will resume, NMS Director General Mohamed Badi’s Personal Assistant Albert Lusiola blamed the county government for failing to pay contractors.
“It’s not about the budgetary allocation, but failure by Sonko’s government to pay contractors, forcing them to go on strike. We are however trying our best with National Youth Service to collect the garbage and soon you will see empty garbage pits,” said Lusiola.
“The solution will be the waste recycling plant that is in the process of being procured by the Ministry of Energy through KenGen in conjunction with NMS,” he added.