Irate Kitengela villagers have closed a landfill in Norkopir after an attempt to work with the Kajiado County government to move it failed for the umpteenth time.
Dozens of locals carrying placards barricaded the main entrance to the two-and-a-half-acre dumpsite that has become an eyesore.
More than 100 trucks, some from Nairobi County, were turned away by locals who vowed they would not allow further dumping.
At some point, however, the villagers relented after armed police officers escorted 11 trucks to the dump following “orders from above”.
In the past two weeks, bad odour and smoke have been emanating from the dumpsite due to a never-ending fire.
Hundreds of livestock driven to the edge by the drought are mingling freely with other scavengers at the dump site.
Residents of adjacent estates have complained of unbearable living conditions.
The landfill is next to homes.
The dumpsite is now slowly spilling over to the Kitengela Muslim Cemetery after the perimeter walls collapsed.
Burning at the dump site
"Our homes have been enveloped by heavy smoke and bad odour from the fire that has been burning at the dumpsite. We suspect some dangerous waste was being burned by unscrupulous traders. Some burning waste has been giving out loud explosive bangs,” Mr Peter Kamau, a resident said.
The resident wants the dump site moved, arguing that despite being a health hazard, it has contributed greatly to crime in the area.
"Let the county government walk the talk and move the landfill elsewhere. It has been turned into a cash cow for a few individuals for years. It must be stopped."
Locals have organised day and night vigils to ensure no truck access the site.
Another concern has been the illegal dumping of industrial and medical waste, endangering the lives of a handful of women who eke a living from collecting plastic waste from the dumpsite.
In 2022, the National Environment Complaints Committee issued a six-month notice to the county government to address the dumping menace and reconsider moving it.
Further, locals fault the Taka ni Mali project within the dumpsite, saying it has been used as a smokescreen to hoodwink investors and government departments regarding plastic recycling to rehabilitate the dumpsite.