Heaps of garbage choke life out of Mombasa island

Tuesday, September 8th, 2020 00:00 |
Kongowea residents walk past uncollected garbage at Uwanja wa Mbuzi area of Kongowea in Nyali sub-county in Mombasa. Photo/PD/Ndegwa Gathungu

Reuben Mwambingu @reubenmwambingu

The breathtaking beauty of Mombasa Island that is heightened by the surrounding turquoise ocean, should make a walk in the city a pleasurable experience.

It is a scene that has over the years attracted visitors to Mombasa, like moths to a green lantern at night.

However, in some areas of the island things  are different. Mountains of garbage are the hallmark of some of the prestigious estates in Mombasa.

As you drive through the inner streets of the leafy Nyali estate near Solomon’s gate, you are invited by wafts of stench accompanied by a swarm of flies, emanating from a mountain of garbage at the gate of a local community school.

The assortment of garbage sprawls in between two rental apartments, creating an eyesore that has continued to hold area residents hostage. 

On some nights, the smell of burning waste permeates the air and thick smoke engulfs the area.

 Swarms of flies

“Sleeping becomes a problem, because the smoke fumes are irritating. People around here at times stay indoors and continuously shut their windows to keep off the stench.

It’s like we are captives of the garbage. We have no freedom of breathing despite living in a posh estate,” says Moses Gitau, who has lived in the area for the past six years.

“This dumping has been going on for almost the past one month and it has been attracting crows and swarm of flies into our houses, exposing us to the risk of contracting diseases,” Gitau adds. 

He claims that people collect garbage elsewhere and dump it there. 

 “We are paying taxes, why are we not getting proper services?”he posed.

Further in the outskirts of the city, especially towards the more congested settlements, the garbage menace is inching closer to an environmental catastrophe.

Kongowea, an informal neighbourhood of Nyali is like a cradle home of waste as garbage can be seen everywhere. 

Uwanja wa Mbuzi stadium, one of Governor Hassan Joho’s most revered projects, is now surrounded by rot.

Right at the gate of the stadium, there is a mountain of garbage, which residents appear to be getting accustomed to. The garbage stands adjacent to a local medical facility.

Open toilets

A route that passes behind the stadium is also full of  garbage. It has literally been converted into an open toilet with solid human waste strewn all over.

 The Mombasa County Executive Committee member in charge of Environment, Dr Godfrey Nato says they have made an effort to keep Mombasa clean, but there is still much to be done.

He cited the case of Kibarani, Kongowea and VOK dumpsites, which he said have been cleared.

During celebration for World Environment Day on June 5, he said the county embarked on the VoK rehabilitation program by planting trees at the VoK dumpsite, which has now been cleared.

Facing extinction

 “This year’s theme dubbed Celebrate Biodiversity,  saw the department plant over 30 species of trees with over 12 indigenous trees that are currently facing extinction.

It is our sincere prayer that this will form part of the greater ecosystem that will emerge from the various species that will call these trees home,” Nato said  at the time.

The VOK dumpsite has been at the centre of controversy, with residents watching helplessly as the waste grows into sprawling mountains of garbage.

According to Nato, his department has taken some laudable steps to deal with the issue of garbage in the coastal town.

“We have really tried and residents should appreciate out efforts,” he said when People  Daily contacted him.

Under the proposed 2020/2021 budget the county has allocated Sh 1 billion to the department of environment, representing seven per cent of the entire county budget of Sh14.6 billion.

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