Residents raise concerns over 'gully of death'

Ramadhan Ishmael, a resident points at the deadly pit in Shikhambi estate in Kakamega County. [Mumo Munuve, Standard]

It began as a trench filled with storm water from Kakamega town.

Today, it has become a dumping site for bodies, sending shivers down the spines of residents of Shikhambi estate in Lurambi constituency.

Locals told The Standard they had retrieved more than three bodies of infants from the gully. They have also lost three cattle, which fell into the gully.

“I have helped in retrieving more than three bodies of infants,” said Ms Asha Omari, a local elder.

Ms Omari, 70, says they now fear the gully will soon turn into a dumping site for bodies, like River Yala.

“We do not know whether the bodies are from the area. We need action lest this turns out to be another River Yala in Siaya County,” said Ms Omari.

According to locals, the latest body was retrieved last Wednesday and it was stashed inside a box.

“We retrieved two bodies in December. The bodies are either in boxes or carrier bags. We do not know how many others have been eaten by dogs or even decomposed,” said Ms Omari.

Ms Omari who has lived in the area for 50 years said the trench was dug to prevent flooding, but rain water had widened it so much, turning it into a gully.

Locals stare at the deadly pit in Shikhambi estate in Kakamega County. [Mumo Munuve, Standard]

Residents said the gully had become a dumping site for all manner of waste, posing serious health risks.

“Cases of diarrhoea and malaria are high. I was admitted to hospital with diarrhoea and we fear children too will be affected. National Environment Management Authority (Nema) and public health officers should come to our rescue,” said Ms Omari.

“The problem is not the rainwater but how the drainage was made. It was not constructed with stones to sustain the force of the water,” said Mr Ismael Adala, another resident.

The residents appealed to the authorities to intervene to avert a disaster.

“You can see this gully is rapidly expanding towards my home, eating into my land. You can see I have playful children and this puts them in grave danger,” said Adala.

“We built a bridge over the gully to help people cross, but many fear using it.”

When The Standard visited, the bridge appeared weak with visible cracks.

According to Ms Faith Iyayi, besides the issue of the gully, the area is also dogged by insecurity.

“We demand that the county government addresses these issues because very soon we might find bodies of adults dumped in the gully,” said Iyayi.

Kakamega Central Sub-county OCPD Valerian Obore, who was posted to the area three months ago, promised to follow up the matter with the relevant authorities.