Fresh row erupts over Kitengela dumpsite charges

Kitengela Noonkopir dumpsite

The Kitengela Noonkopir dumpsite which is currently at the centre of a dispute between the Kitengela Municipality and the County Revenue Authority over funds generated by the landfill. Stanley Ngotho

Photo credit: Stanley Ngotho | Nation Media Group

The new Kitengela Municipality management has locked horns with the Kajiado County government's revenue department over the management and collection of taxes at the controversial Noonkopir dumpsite.

The disagreement has degenerated into a cat-and-mouse game between the two departments, resulting in the temporary closure of the dumpsite.

In the past two weeks, the three-hectare landfill, which is located in a residential area, has been closed twice after the two warring groups of revenue collectors attempted to collect daily fees from private garbage collectors.

Before Kitengela, became a municipality in 2022 and after, the revenue department collected dumping fees.

Dozens of garbage collectors denounce the harassment and disruption of their daily routines and demand to know who is supposed to manage the dumpsite.

"We are wondering if it's the municipality or the revenue department in charge of the dumping site. We are not sure whom to pay because both entities are demanding the payment. The frequent closure has caused us big losses,” said Mr John Macho.

Hazardous waste

At least 50 trucks dump waste at the Noonkopir dumpsite every day at a cost of between Sh1,500 and Sh2,000 depending on the size of the truck, serving the entire town and neighbouring estates.

However, Nation has established that waste from neighbouring counties, especially hazardous waste, is usually sneaked in at night by a cartel that runs the dumpsite, making millions of shillings at the expense of the helpless locals.

"Highly hazardous waste is brought in at night and burned. Apart from the few coins that go to the county government, the cartel mints millions a month. The cartel thrives on intimidation," said a resident who did not want to be named for fear of reprisals adding that the neighbourhood is usually enveloped in thick, choking smoke billowing from the landfill at night.

A Nation spot check on Friday revealed an overflowing two-and-a-half acre rubbish dump site.  The perimeter wall was far gone, and the "mounds" of garbage were conspicuous throughout the neighbourhood, littered with disposable polythene bags and other waste from the landfill. The top of the "garbage hill" is home to hundreds of marabou birds and dozens of pigs. At the bottom, a stream of foul-smelling sewage flows freely from the landfill.

False start

The Mali ni taka initiative, which was linked to the county government and aimed to train local women to turn waste into an economic venture, has suffered a false start. On Friday, there was less activity at the Taka ni Mali mini plant.

Oloosirkon Sholinke Ward MCA Stephen Kisemei insists the dumpsite has been an eyesore, endangering the health and safety of the neighbours.

The ward Representative, who has been campaigning for its management to be handed over to the community, says the dumpsite should be closed and a permanent solution found.

"This dumpsite is a time bomb for the locals. It's time for all stakeholders to sit down and find a permanent solution. The municipality is in a better position to run it. It's not always about money. Let's think about the health of our people," said Kisemei.

Recently, Municipal Manager Josphine Nashipae told the Nation that waste management in Kitengela Municipality, which is in its infancy, remains a tall order due to lack of resources.

"More funds need to be injected into the municipality. We only have two trucks at the moment," said Ms Nashipae in an earlier interview. Over the years, neighbours have complained to the relevant authorities about relocation, but to no avail. Most homeowners have since relocated and abandoned their homes.

In 2017, the National Environment Management Authority raised a red flag and ordered the closure of the same, but the orders were ignored.