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Kakamega residents protest over dumpsite, want it relocated

WESTERN
By Robert Amalemba | April 15th 2021
Locals of Rosterman area in Lurambi Sub-county Kakamega show waste at Rosterman dumpsite which they say flows to their residences.  [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Residents of Rosterman in Kakamega County want a dumpsite within their residential area moved to a different place.

Yesterday, they held a peaceful protest and said the management of the dumpsite had refused to listen to their concerns on its poor hygiene and had ignored their requests to relocate it.

They added that it has negative health and environmental impact on 1,000-odd households nearby.

“Eight years ago when the dumpsite was put here, the county promised to move it in six months to its rightful place at Mung’anga in Mumias but that never happened,” said Harris Otsuku, 83.

Otsuku runs a shop just some 20 metres from the site. He says the dumpsite is on a place that housed a social hall in the 1980s when the Rosterman Gold Miners were looking for gold in the area.

Village Elder James Ngaira at the Rosterman dumpsite Kakamega. The locals in the area say the site poses health and environmental threats to them. They want the dump well managed or moved. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

NEGATIVE EFFECTS

Josephat Lishenga, a university lecturer who led the demonstration, said the dumpsite has negative effects.

“About 1,000 households are affected by the dumpsite. It is worse during the rainy season because the place becomes a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

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“The waste is not segregated as required. Medical waste like masks, gloves and foetuses are all dumped in one heap,” he said.

Lishenga said the dumpsite is also surrounded by five schools.

“Learners can hardly concentrate in the classroom due to the stench from the dumpsite. Passing around it at about 7 pm is risky because of stray dogs and hooligans.

“Our children cannot go to school early for fear of being attacked by the dogs,” he said.

Alfred Limisi, a teacher at Mukhonje Primary, said pupils have been attacked by stray dogs on several occasions.

“We’ve also handled cases of pupils picking bottles from the dump and drinking water from them. They also scavenge for food from the site, which is not fenced as required,” he said.

Bernard Hinga, a community health volunteer, said private clinics that produce harmful waste take advantage of the lack of a perimeter wall around the site to dispose of dangerous waste at night.

James Ngaira, a village elder, says residents have been incurring more expenses treating ailments such as malaria, rashes, boils and stomach complications, whose causes can be traced to the dumpsite.

Village Elder James Ngaira at the Rosterman dumpsite Kakamega. The locals in the area say the site poses health and environmental threats to them. They want the dump well managed or moved. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

The National Environment Management Authority (Nema) head of Kakamega Simon Tanui says he visited the site three weeks ago and the fence was intact but one of the access gates to the site was destroyed.

“I have written letters to the site managers asking them to institute strong management measures at the site to ensure the gates and fence are in order and the trucks that access the dumpsite don’t do the dumping on the feeder roads,” he said.

“In case they breach any environmental issue, I cannot sue as it was the case before. I will keep writing until they toe the line,” he said.

President Uhuru Kenyatta issued a directive in July, last year, barring government agencies from instituting lawsuits against one another.

Violet Ofisi, the Kakamega County town manager, said issues on management of the dumpsite are being tackled in phases.

NUMEROUS MEETINGS

She admitted that her office has had numerous meetings with the Rosterman community in efforts to stem potential hazards.

“We are in the process of outsourcing a manager of the dump to control the dumping and security of the dump. The community equally ought to be supportive of our efforts.

“They must stop vandalising the steel gates and perimeter fence now and then,” she said.

In 2015, the county government said it was in the final stages of acquiring an 18-acre piece at Mung’ang’a in Mumias for a new dumpsite and a refuse-energy conversion plant.

That has, however, not been easy to approve at the County Assembly.

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