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The fate of Ongata Rongai residents
By Rose Maina | Updated Nov 10, 2015 at 11:44 EAT

Ongata rongai. A town at the outskirts of Nairobi popularly known as ‘diaspora’ not because of the distance but the time it takes to get there from Nairobi Central Business District due to traffic. Do you ever wonder why there is so much traffic in Rongai? Save maybe the obvious. One narrow road leading to all destinations in Rongai and Kiserian populated towns. There also are vast investments taking place in Ongata Rongai every day.

But with all the growth that Ongata Rongai boast of, nobody would imagine that there is no sewer system in place and the drainage system is in a deplorable state due to garbage.

The lack of a sewer system gives property owners an exorbitant task of engaging exhauster services to pump out sewage waste either weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. A truck charges between Sh8,000 to Sh11,000 depending on the amount it empties. Some property owners after incurring a high cost engaging exhauster services, have found an alternative of pumping sewage into trenches leading to the drainage system by the roads. This is done when the septic tanks get filled up.

A visit to Kingdom hall road, next to Ongata Royal Academy is just but one example among many. Some men are seen digging trenches by the road just next to the school to direct the sewage waste from some exquisite looking apartments. As the waste rushes through, a burst water pipe sprinkles through the same trench. Mr Mathu the director of the school has not had it easy. “Parents threaten to withdraw their children from the school.” He laments, “When it rains, the drainage system is affected, it floods sewer water into the school.” The smell emanating from this waste is sure reason for the parents to complain. A concerned Mr Mathu adds that ten years or so ago, Rongai was less populated and much cleaner.

The pollution by the sewer water has not only polluted the streets but also Mbagathi River. This river can no longer be used to wash cloths, shower, fetch water for domestic use or for baptism. Those who benefitted from the river yearn for the days when dark water was not introduced in Mbagathi River.

A clear picture as to why the deplorable conditions still exist despite the efforts to fight, is an article written by James Kariuki and posted by Nairobi planning innovations on 2nd June 2015. This was the time there was a cholera outbreak in various parts of the country. According to the article, a movement was founded in 1998 by children of land owners in the Mbagathi River area.

They called it ‘friends of nature’, its aim was to stop the continued pumping of sewer water into the river, regaining the fresh water which was also used for fishing. This movement did not last due to lack of local support and vicious campaign by landlords. Some of the landlords had deep pockets and were well connected. They colluded with the chiefs and labeled the group ‘friends of nature’ as Mungiki, harassed by police every time they held meetings. Many quit but the vocal members who threatened to pursue the matter in court were silenced by bribes. The group then collapsed.

A town lacking a sewer system and a good drainage system is nothing to joke about. It has severe health complications. It brings about various health issues and are grouped in 3 categories; according to Google they include; water related vector-borne diseases such as malaria, bilhaziasis, elephantiasis this is mainly due to the breeding of parasites in the polluted water.

Faecal/orally transmitted diseases like cholera, dysentery and so on. This is due to the polluted water and food. Take a look at the heart of the town. Cabbages, fruits, tomatoes are being sold on top of dark black water, this is a disaster in waiting.

Killing of animal life in rivers. The polluted water lacks oxygen for the fish to breath thus they die making the water even more polluted thus a deterioration of the environment just like Mbagathi river.

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People’s lives are in danger and also the businesses are hanging on the balance. A fast growing town with banks, microfinance banks, lending institutions like speed capital, real estate’s companies like Baron, Bullman, Joyton and many more. Health facilities, educational institutions, shopping malls, hotels, and entertainment joints you name it. All seated in populated environment.

It is articulate to the eye that the trenches dug on both sides of the road meant for draining rain water now drain sewage water from residential houses. As many areas across the country prepared their drainage systems with the oncoming rains, those at Ongata Rongai remained clogged with weed and waste. The worst hit area is at the heart of the town at the busy Kware market where business goes on as usual. Despite the dry season, the drains flow with dark sewer water and garbage from the market clogs most parts of the drains. Residents of Rongai risk contracting diseases from this health hazard if nothing is done soon. This gold mine may be sitting on a ticking time bomb.


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