Garbage piles up in Kitengela as refuse truck is impounded

A garbage bin at Kitengela town.

Photo credit: Stanley Ngotho | Nation Media Group

Two weeks ago, police officers from the Government Vehicle Check Unit (GVCU) impounded the Kajiado County's only refuse truck serving Kitengela town, resulting in the accumulation of garbage in the populous town.

The unroadworthy truck was also said to have been misused and operated without a valid licence and other necessary requirements for a government vehicle.

The truck is currently parked at the far corner of Kitengela Police Station yard away from the glare of the public.

A Nation spot check on Saturday revealed that the vehicle, bearing stickers of the newly formed Kitengela Municipality under the district government, had completely worn-out tyres, broken lights and missing indicators, a broken door and a dilapidated cabin.

On the day the truck was impounded, the smelly dustbin it was carrying was left in the middle of a service road in the town, much to the chagrin of nearby traders.

Jane Muya, an eatery owner, said a terrible smell was emanating from the bin, which was filling the atmosphere, and that the full bin was also leaking liquid waste.

"This is the worst thing an authority can do to its citizens. The smell is too much. The customers of the eateries are moving to other parts of the city," she said bitterly.

Piles of rubbish are also strewn everywhere, including the temporary retail market, where "city cows" scavenge for edible market waste.

In some areas of the town, garbage is dumped in open spaces along the Namanga Highway, which is maintained by the Kenya National Highway Authority (KenNHA), and the private company contracted to do the job is forced to take responsibility.

Nation has established that since the town was upgraded to a municipality, there has been a tug-of-war between the Ministry of Water and Environment and the town council, with the former saying that garbage collection is the latter's mandate.

Residents want the issue of garbage collection to be addressed in time before the expected El Niño rains, which they say could be disastrous.

Currently, the council is in the process of setting up administrative offices in one of the government buildings next to the Kitengela police station.

However, the chairperson of the council, Mr Julius Ntaiya, former chairman of the defunct Ol-Kejuado District Council, told the Nation on Saturday that he was not aware of the whereabouts of the refuse truck, but acknowledged the presence of heavy garbage in the town.

"I have not been informed on the whereabouts of the truck but I will look into it, we have a challenge of collecting garbage, we do not have casual workers but soon we will employ some to start with," he said on phone.

A few years ago, the county government privatised the multimillion-dollar waste collection sector in the towns, in an effort to solve the simmering problems of solid waste collection.

The private collectors were supposed to collect garbage from retail markets and other designated areas, while the county was supposed to collect garbage along the roads.

The private collectors have always been accused of doing a shoddy job, prompting public outcry.