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Keroka garbage eyesore that is stirring outcry

By Stanley Ongwae | July 16th 2021

A man eats an orange beside the garbage which has nearly suffocated the chicken market in Keroka town in this picture taken on 12/07/2021. [Stanley Ongwae, Standard].

The sight of pied crows and stray dogs rummaging through garbage is what welcomes you to Keroka town if you are using the Kisii-Nairobi Highway. 

Heaps of trash ranging from used diapers, rotting vegetables, used plastic bottles, carton boxes to all manner of dirt are lying next to the highway.

It is a looming public health crisis that, seemingly, the administrators of Nyamira and Kisii counties, who co-manage the urban centre, have not shown interest to address. Passers-by usually cover their noses due to the stench emanating from the roadside dumpsite.

Layers of burnt refuse can also be seen at the site, a sign that the garbage has been lying around for several months.  

Chicken hawkers who have been using the space for many years have been displaced. They have moved towards Kisumu Ndogo.

“We have been trying to reduce the refuse by burning it up every day,” said Fanuel Ondieki, a hawker selling sweets in the nearby open-air market.

The situation has now elicited outcry from the business people and residents who are calling for intervention. “We are not happy at all. The situation worsens when it rains. We pay revenue but we do not receive any services,” Richard Kenyinyo, a chicken hawker said.

Other traders said some youths used to collect the refuse but they quit some months ago.

“The county stopped paying them and since then, we haven’t seen any garbage collectors around here. But revenue collectors are ever-present,” said Grace Moraa, a vegetable seller.

According to Elijah Ombuna, a trader, the crisis between Kisii and Nyamira over administrative boundaries constitutes the current state of affairs.

“The garbage is from Kisii and Nyamira counties. It could be that the administrators are hesitant to solve the waste disposal issue,” Ombuna said.

Keroka town is at the border of Kisii and Nyamira counties with the Kisii-Sotik-Narok-Nairobi highway passing right in the middle of it. Since 2016, the border town has been a centre of conflict between the Kisii and Nyamira county governments.

On several occasions, there has been chaos resulting from disagreements over the revenue collection in the town.

But after constant push and pull between the governors of the two counties, a truce was reached and the yellow line was drawn at the highway to separate the two counties.

No coordination

The two administrative units would then collect revenue from vehicles passing on their side.

But Nyamira Chief Officer for Environment Joshua Marwanga said there is a lack of proper coordination between those manning the town.

“You cannot expect governors Ongwae or Nyaribo to come and supervise the removal of dirt in the town. The two town administrators, who are representatives of the senior county leaders should work together in ensuring there is proper coordination,” Marwanga said.

According to Governor James Ongwae of Kisii, there is no conflict and the issues of managing the town should be well coordinated.

“As much as there may be challenges, my office will deal with officers who are not executing their mandate as required. We shall deal with the challenge firmly,” Ongwae said.

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