Piles of uncollected garbage at a city road.  

| Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

Disappearing Nairobi roads: Once pristine avenues now stinking dump sites

What you need to know:

  • Starehe MP Charles Njagua alias Jaguar admitted that garbage management in his constituency as well as the entire city is a big issue.
  • He accused private garbage collectors of sabotaging the system despite efforts by the NMS to improve the city's outlook.
  • Attempts to get feedback from the NMS, however, were unsuccessful as they had not responded to our questions by publishing time.

Nairobi roads are disappearing fast. And no, it's not the potholes that are eating up the city roads. It is also not the hawkers displaying their merchandise on the roadside who are forcing pedestrians to fight for remaining spaces with vehicles and motorbikes.

With inadequate garbage collection spots in several estates, residents and local garbage collectors have resorted to turning roads into dump sites.

A section of Kinyanjui lane in Nairobi.

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

With pungent smell from mounds of filth assaulting them from alley to alley, city residents nowadays have it rough walking along these unofficial dump sites and many have to seek alternative routes to their homes.

Such is the case with Kamukunji road, just next to the historic Kamukunji grounds.

The road is famed for providing an escape route to opposition politicians of yore retreating from running battles with the police.

Cows having their midday snack at a garbage heap.

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

It was also a major route for vehicles heading to Gikomba market and its environs.

But the once-wide tarmacked road has now morphed into a dump site so huge that it straddles the road, stretching to more than 100 metres. The spot was a beehive of activity when nation.africa visited the area.

From older street boys scavenging for valuables to young children culling plastics from the filthy pile, there is a lot going on at this eyesore where waste spills over the trenches and into residents' houses barely five metres from the road.

The same is replicated on Hamza Road in Makadara estate.

The road, which used to be residents’ link to their homes, has now been reduced to a temporary avenue. And garbage is to blame.

With pungent smell from mounds of filth assaulting them from alley to alley, city residents nowadays have it rough walking along these unofficial dump sites.

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

Ironically, the garbage spot is some 70 metres from the Makadara sub-county ward administrator's office.

The entire stretch from the dump site to the ward administrator's office is lined by food kiosks, kitchenware shops as well as movie outlets.

At least 20 cows were having their midday snack at the garbage heap when nation.africa  arrived at the scene.

The area was strewn with plastics and leftover food all the way to the trenches.

 A source at the sub-county administration office said they had unsuccessfully tried to get the city county to intervene.

Speaking to nation.africa, a trader identified as Gitau said it was unfair to force them to pay for business permits and licences yet they operate in a stinking environment.

Hamza/Maringo ward rep Mark Ndung'u blamed the uncollected garbage on the Nairobi Metropolitan Service (NMS), which took over the role of keeping the city clean after the ouster of former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko.

From older street boys scavenging for valuables to young children culling plastics from the filthy pile, there is a lot going on at this eyesore where waste spills over the trenches and into residents' houses barely five metres from the road.

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

Numerous consultations with the county administration have not borne any fruit, the area MCA added.

"The NMS, through the DG (Maj-General Mohamed Badi) promised they would clear the garbage from the roads but they have not done so yet," he lamented.

"This reeks of political sabotage. You know I was a strong supporter of Governor Sonko," he added.

At the first junction between Mathare road and the busy Juja road sits Huruma Primary School on one side and Huruma flats on the other. A pristine tarmacked road separates the two structures. This road, which links the residents’ homes to other major roads in the area, has now been transformed into a dumping site. 

An entire lane is blocked off by mounds of waste that the nation.africa vehicle had a tough moment trying to squeeze through.

Again street boys were busy trying to salvage what they could from the pile of waste. Operators of a furniture business a few metres from the spot, a tailoring shop attendant and a coffin trader said they long got used to the filth.

Nairobi roads

Kamukunji road, just next to the historic Kamukunji grounds.

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

Road users have the option of either enduring the snarl-up caused by the dumpsite especially during the rush hour, or contending with the much heavier traffic jam on Juja Road to get to their homes.

The situation was no different on Kinyanjui Lane, along Kinyanjui Road and bordering the Kariokor Medical Clinic.

Used tyres, food remains, plastic waste and a smelly sludge have found a perfect resting place. The nation.africa team observed two residents dump waste at the spot during our rounds. 

Half the lane had been blocked by garbage. Judging from the relaxed demeanour of the mechanics plying their trade and some locals chewing khat barely three metres from the dumpsite, it is evident that they are used to the offending site.

One mechanic even enjoyed a cup of tea and chapati while sitting on a block of stone next to the waste. It was a classic show of resilience and strong nasal nerves.

Right inside the CBD, just a few metres off River Road along Ngariama Road, is the garbage-ridden Ngariama lane. Rotten tomatoes, plastics, food remains and smelly murky water fill the entire stretch of the lane.

Huge lorries pass through the street with caution, as if the drivers are afraid they might splash the smelly effluent on unsuspecting pedestrians.

Further on, the lane becomes impassable to pedestrians and cart pushers, unless one does not mind wading through an ankle-deep mixture of urine, rainwater, decaying food and plastics.

Starehe MP Charles Njagua alias Jaguar admitted that garbage management in his constituency as well as the entire city is a big issue. He accused private garbage collectors of sabotaging the system despite efforts by the NMS to improve the city's outlook.

"NMS has tried and improved the management but the problem is much bigger and needs teamwork. Garbage is disposed of anyhow; NMS needs to improve the collection and disposal systems," Mr Njagua told nation.africa.

Attempts to get feedback from the NMS, however, were unsuccessful as they had not responded to our questions by publishing time.

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