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Filth chokes port city despite tourism riches

By | April 15th 2009

By Philip Mwakio

Better known for leisure and tourism, Mombasa town has its other, filthier side.

The municipality generates 900 metric tonnes of waste daily while the local council collects only 300 metric tonnes a day.

Deputy Mayor John Mcharo admitted Mombasa Municipal Council lacks facilities to adequately manage garbage.

Recently, the council bought five garbage trucks at Sh25 million.

"Our intention is to fully privatise garbage collection and even hand over the 600 personnel under our cleaning department," Mr Mcharo said.

Earlier, attempts to privatise garbage collection failed.

"We see privatisation as a viable option, which is long overdue," he said. Players in the hospitality industry have expressed concerns over sanitation in the town.

They are happy with the council’s decision to clean the town at night but insist the exercise should not only cover the Central Business District.

Deserving areas

Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers Coast branch chairman Mohamed Hersi says there are other deserving areas, including those along the roads leading to tourist resorts and from Moi International Airport.

"They are first sights where visitors get a feel of how their holiday destination looks like," Mr Hersi said.

He says the council should support private initiatives like clean-up days.

"The local government in Moshi and Arusha in Tanzania and Kigali in Rwanda have shown how public–private partnerships in cleanliness can be enhanced," Hersi, who is also the Sarova Group of Hotels Coast regional manager, added.

He claimed privatisation of garbage collection in Mombasa has stagnated due to infighting at the council. "We do not care who wins the tender to clear garbage but insist the process has to be done fairly and quickly to give Mombasa fresh breath," Hersi said. The council has found itself between a rock and a hard place as it tries to implement the Green City status.

According to Mcharo, privatisation was delayed by unclear definition of the scope of work of a Sh800 million grant from the French Development Agency.

The money would be spent to set up a recycling plant and improve roads to Mwakirunge dumpsite.

Mwakirunge lies 22 km from town. But as the delay in the project implementation continues, Mombasa faces severe waste management challenges. Tourism sector players argue Mombasa’s status as a tourist haven is being eroded due to filth choking its streets.

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