Nema threatens to close Umma University, 12 Kajiado abattoirs for non-compliance

Salome Machua

Ms Salome Machua, Nema deputy director of enforcement addresses the media after inspecting Umma University wastewater treatment plant on 19 June 19, 2024.

Photo credit: Stanley Ngotho | Nation Media Group

The National Environmental Management Authority (Nema) has threatened to shut down a local university and abattoirs in Kajiado County for non-compliance with environmental regulations.

The environmental watchdog's inspectorate and enforcement officers from its headquarters under the Rapid Environment Response Unit have been traversing the vast county's satellite towns. 

During the week-long operation, the team was at Umma University, where the officers inspected the institution's mega sewage treatment plant. The immediate neighbours had complained about raw sewage being dumped into the open and the awful stench emanating from the plant.

Ms Salome Machua, Deputy Director of Enforcement, accused the university of ignoring earlier recommendations to fix the plant.

Discharging effluent

"The plant is discharging effluent into the neighbourhood despite previous warnings from Nema. It is evident that the attic plant is not working at all. We may be forced to prosecute or shut down the institution until they comply," she said.

Ms Machua added: "Our main focus is on liquid and solid waste management in schools, residential estates and slaughterhouses across the county."

Umma University

Umma University wastewater treatment plant.

Photo credit: Stanley Ngotho | Nation Media Group

Mr Abdi Swalah, Umma University's Chief Finance Officer, who accompanied the team to the plant inspection, was at pains to explain why the plant had failed.

"We have put some mechanisms in place to fix the plant, but we agree that there is a problem that needs to be addressed. The plant lacks capacity," Mr Swalah told Nema officials.

At the Isinya abattoir, officials complained of poor wastewater disposal, characterised by overflowing ponds. Like most abattoirs in Kajiado County, the management had not separated liquid and solid waste. The open, bloody trenches were littered with animals' internal organs, and the effluent formed a lagoon in a nearby bush before finding its way into the Isinya River.

12 large abattoirs

 "We will not relent in our efforts to ensure that all slaughterhouses comply. It is unethical to dump liquid waste from abattoirs into the river. We have given notice to all abattoirs in Kajiado to comply or we will shut them down," said Ms Machua.

The environmental watchdog is targeting 12 large abattoirs and a dozen slaughterhouses across the county after a public outcry.

Also on Nema's radar are several estates in Kitengela town that are said to be notorious for spilling raw sewage into the streets. Several high-end flats linked to politicians have been targeted and compliance notices issued.

Officers also issued an initial warning on the use of single-use plastic bags. The resurgence of the banned plastic bags has recently been witnessed in satellite towns of Kajiado including Kitengela, Ngong, Kiserian, Isinya and Ong'ata Rongai.