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Nakuru residents up in arms against matatu operators over open defecation

By Mercy Kahenda | May 18th 2020

Toilets at Ziwani Matatu stage in Nakuru County. Matatu sacco leaders at the stage claim the facilities are inadequate hence forcing some motorists to resort to the nearby bushes to relieve themselves. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Residents of Bondeni estate in Nakuru County are up in arms against matatu operators at the bus stage whom they accuse of defecating in the open and endangering their lives.

The irate residents have also criticised Nakuru County government over poor hygiene at the Ziwani matatu termini that lack sufficient sanitation facilities.

According to a community health volunteer Fatma Masika, the area might soon report cases of cholera and typhoid if the situation is not addressed.

"The situation at the Ziwani termini is worrying. Solid waste deposited in the drainage and bushes around the stage has easily found its way to the residential areas," she told the Standard on Monday.

Masika said on several occasions youth from the slum are forced to keep vigil to prevent motorists from relieving themselves in the area but the latter remain ignorant.

She said efforts to sensitise operators on the importance of toilet use is yet to bear fruits.

“We are yet to understand why people operating within the stage cannot use available portable toilets,” she said.

County Public Health Chief Officer Samuel King’ori said the county had contracted sanitation provider who supplied two portable toilets for temporary use.

However, after supplying the toilets, they were destroyed by matatu operators after he allegedly fixed Sh10 fee.

King’ori said the county has procured at least six mobile toilets at a cost of Sh2.5 million through Biashara ward fund. 

“Connection process of the new toilets to sewerage system for use is ongoing," said King'ori.

The toilets will be accessed for free to prevent diseases attributed to poor sanitation like cholera, typhoid and diarrhoea.

Over the weekend, the locals and operators engaged in a fist fight on the matter.

Chairman of Timeline Sacco Njoroge Muraya claimed two portable toilets supplied at the stage are not adequate, an issue forcing some motorists to resort to the bushes.

Muraya said the toilets are also poorly managed, exposing them to hygienic hazards.

He said the stage has about 600 people, among them drivers, touts and hawkers who access the sanitation facilities.

“People fear using the toilets because they are not clean. Number of people accessing them is also high,” said Muraya.

Protus Okello, the sanitation manager at the market, re-iterated this claim by saying said the toilets are not enough and thus posing a health risk.

“Though we have two toilets, they are strained because of the high number of people accessing them. More facilities are required to prevent diseases," he said.

Okello told The Standard that at times, people do not use the toilets due to fears of getting infections, and therefore resort to the open ground.

The operator said the former matatu stages had more toilets, for example, vehicle plying East bound- Western parts of the country had at least 8 toilets.

There were also more private toilets belonging to hotels that were accessed by people, either free or at a small fee.

"We exhaust the toilets after every three days," he said.

The county government relocated matatu stages last month from the Central Business District (CBD) in efforts to combat the spread of Covid-19.

Among current operating stages include Ziwani, opposite Kingdom Seekers Church, Railways Ground, Show Ground and County Morgue area.

A visit by The Standard to Ziwani termini established that operators including hawkers, drivers and passengers relieve themselves in open ground that borders Bondeni slum.

Some of the locals sit vigil along the area to scare the operators but they seem not intimidated.

Though there is a bath tab at the portable toilets; its drainage system is wanting as it has stagnated dirty water which flows at the surface.

In 2015, at least 20 people died of cholera, with an accumulation of 280 cases. Most affected areas having been Kihoto, Kikopey, Salgaa, Kaptembwo, Ponda Mali, Mogotio at the border of Nakuru and Baringo counties.


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