Trans Nzoia Governor Khaemba bans sale of coffins near hospitals

He termed the sale of coffins and provision of hearse services close to health facilities as 'scary' to patients and against African traditions. [Courtesy]

Coffin makers and hearse operators near hospitals in Trans Nzoia County have two weeks to relocate, Governor Patrick Khaemba had directed.

He termed the sale of coffins and provision of hearse services close to health facilities as 'scary' to patients and against African traditions.

The county has issued a 14-day ultimatum for the business owners to relocate amid protests.

Khaemba said that the presence of coffins and hearses near hospitals present a 'hostile environment' to patients.

"Nobody comes to the hospital to die but comes with a hope of getting well after receiving medication. But in the event of death, the family will look for required funeral services. There is no need to market them near hospitals," said Khaemba.

He noted that the businesses are subjecting patients to mental torture. "When patients step in these facilities, the first encounter is a display of coffins and funeral vans. The situation reduces their hope to recover."

The governor added that the businesses are causing unnecessary panic and fear among patients and the public.

"I have given them 14 days to relocate their businesses," he said.

But coffin makers and hearse operators have opposed the ban and vowed to move to court.

They argued that they are operating near health facilities because they lack space.

"We are not going to move away until we are allocated alternative areas," said Robert Kipyego, a businessman.

John Muregi, another businessman, said their services are critical for bereaved families and that it was unfair for the county government to order for their relocation.

"We are trying to bring our services closer to the people and the decision by the county government is unwelcome," said Muregi.

The residents, on the other hand, are divided over the governor's decision.

Patrick Wanjala, a businessman, argued that it was against traditions to make a coffin before a person dies. "It is like inviting death. A coffin should be made when a person dies." 

Johar Lagat said parading coffins brings bad luck. "It is also demoralizing especially for the sick."

Stanely Kayor defended the sale of coffins and availing hearse services near hospitals, saying it reduces the costs incurred by bereaved families. "I don't see any reason of banning them."