Kakamega residents complain of stench from uncollected garbage

Traders doing their businesses near a dump side at the main market in Kakamega town on 19th September 2022 that is shared by cattle eating cabbage.

Photo credit: Isaac Wale | Nation Media Group.

The business community in Kakamega County has raised the alarm over uncollected garbage piling up in major towns and exposing residents to the risk of diseases.

Traders in Kakamega and Mumias towns, including restaurant owners, shopkeepers, bodaboda riders and jua kali sellers, said the trash is an eyesore and a health hazard and the stench unbearable.

In Kakamega town, traders want the county government to relocate a waste dumpsite located near the bus park.

Eatery owners, clothes sellers, fishmongers and hawkers said the site poses a health risk and is scaring away their customers.

Ms Lucy Waithera claimed they had complained to the county government about the dumpsite but little action was taken.

“We have been visiting the offices of the county government several times but they only come and pick up some garbage and leave huge chunks that are rotting on the site. We cannot move because this is where we were allocated our stalls,” she said.

“The garbage has not been uncollected for many days and is decomposing. The smell is unbearable.”

Mr Christopher Kanga, another trader, said the garbage had accumulated for more than five years.

“We are not doing any business because customers are not able to withstand the bad smell from the dumpsite, yet we are paying full levies to the county government,” he lamented.

During the rainy season, stagnated water mixes with the waste, including dead animals.

Rotten fruits, vegetables and food waste from eateries and markets are dumped at the receptacle.

Roaches

Mr Kanga said the site is a favourite breeding ground for maggots, rats and roaches, to the agony of many people in the town.

“We need an urgent solution because our stomachs are bloated from inhaling the bad odour on a daily basis. The dumpsite should be relocated to a remote place,” he said.

Waste disposal is a challenge that cuts across many urban centres in Kenya even with devolution, which took services closer to the people.

County governments have failed to overcome the challenge of garbage disposal, with uncollected mounds of garbage in estates and market centres a common feature.

Mr Hudson Kisanga, the sanitation manager in Kakamega town, said that although the county government had designated dumping sites, residents were disposing of garbage carelessly.

“The management of Kakamega and Mumias towns is grappling with the haphazard dumping of garbage because citizens have irresponsible disposal behaviour,” Mr Kisanga said.

He said the waste is supposed to remain at the holding centres for a maximum of eight hours before it is collected by youth hired by the county government.

“In a day, we collect between 120 and 180 tonnes of the garbage but the big towns are still choked because of the exponential growth in urban populations and partly because people don’t dispose of waste at designated points,” he said.

Kakamega has contractors who collect garbage, but residents feel the contracts need to be reviewed, claiming some of the companies were lazy.

Residents urged the environment watchdog Nema to compel the county government to keep towns clean.

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