Court gives NMS six months to close down Dandora dumpsite

A section of Dandora dumpsite in Nairobi.The county government is plans to extend the life of the dumpsite, as a short term solution to managing garbage in the city. [David Njaaga, Standard]

A court has ordered Kenya’s biggest dumpsite at Dandora closed within six months over pollution.

It also ordered that River Sabaki be cleaned from its source in Kikuyu to its end at the Indian Ocean.

In the radical judgement, Justice Kossy Bor also ordered that Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) and National Environment Management Authority (Nema) immediately stop litter burning at the dumpsite and establish a new dumpsite which will have a waste separation and recycling system.

At the same time, the two institutions are also required to identify harmful materials and processes at the 30-acre dumpsite within 30 days.

Meanwhile, the judge also ordered that the two agencies construct a new dumpsite that will have facilities to separate degradable and bio-degradable trash and recycle them.

In a case filed by two Nairobi residents, Isaiah Odando and Wilson Yata, the judge ordered that NMS decommissions and rehabilitates the site within the same period.

Dandora dumpsite covers 30 acres and is Nairobi County’s main dumping site. It takes in at least 3,500 tonnes of waste every day, holds more than three times its capacity and handles more than 1.8 million tonnes of solid waste. It is a source of livelihood to at least 200,000 people.

“NMS shall close the dumpsite within six months and rehabilitate it. In the intervening period, it shall take all steps to ensure the dumpsite is managed in a way that does not harm the environment and humans. There will be no burning of plastic or other waste in Dandora dumpsite,” Justice Bor ordered.

Generate power

The orders issued yesterday put plans to generate electricity from the trash into limbo. Last year, NMS signed a deal with Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) to convert the city’s waste into 40 megawatts of power to be supplied to the national grid.

“While identifying a new field, NMS and Nema will ensure how to deal with waste reduction and separating biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste and recycling,” Justice Bor continued.

At the same time, the judge ordered the two agencies to clean up the Nairobi River from its source to River Sabaki, in Malindi, covering at least 400km of polluted rivers.

They will report to the court every four months on the quality of water from the Nairobi River, Athi and Sabaki, collected from 12 points of the rivers.

The judge directed that all those who have encroached on the riverbanks should be moved. She ordered Nema to ensure the waters are clean for human consumption and all the counties where Nairobi, Athi, and Sabaki snakes through to ensure there are no harmful human activities.

“The respondent will report in four months to show the quality of water taken from Nairobi River including the water from all counties where River Athi passes. It shall file a report in court every four months showing the measures to ensure River Athi is rid of pollution such as stopping the discharge of effluent waste, poison, and other pollutants,” she ruled.

“All the counties, which River Athi passes through, are directed to eliminate all pollution in the river and block activities that are harmful to the human health.”

In this case, the agencies were blamed for failing to ensure the river’s waters are clean for Nairobi, Kiambu, Machakos, Makueni, Kilifi and Tana River residents.

Odando and Yata’s lawyer Kenneth Amondi accused NMS and Nema of mishandling the environment and failing to tame runaway water pollution upstream and downstream.

In this case, NMS and Nema were accused of mishandling the environment and failing to tame runaway water pollution upstream and downstream.

“The Nairobi River is a classic example of water pollution. Polluted water and raw sewage that feed Nairobi River are used for irrigation thereby subject consumers of food products to health hazards,” argued Amondi.