ENVIRONMENT: Kakamega’s waste management woes

Sacks of bottles dumped at the roadside at in Malava forest. PHOTO/Andanje Wakhungu.

As urbanization takes shape in Kakamega, experts indicate that solid waste management and disposal is a challenge that ought to be addressed.

In particular, the Northern region of the County has in recent past come under scrutiny on how it has been disposing domestic, agricultural, industrial, hazardous and biochemical waste with fears of pollution among other dangers.

Despite the county allocating several dumping sites in nearly all sub counties, it is only Rosterman that considered most strategic to serve residents.

A spot check indicates that other parcels of land set aside for the same purpose either remain unutilized or grabbed. Some areas are yet to be allocated dumping sites.

However, treatment and disposal of the collected wastes typically lags behind, and despite some innovative schemes, most of the wastes end up in offensive pollution dumps as disposal of waste on land remain an inevitable component of every solid waste management system for there is no waste that can be removed from its point of origin without there being a place for it to be taken.

Providing an adequate disposal facility is a challenge faced by waste managers throughout the globe, according to Kakamega North outgoing sub-county administrator, Cyril Mululu.

Mululu said the Sub County did not have a dumpsite after the residents of Lutali area where a piece of land which used to belong to the Malava town council rejected the idea.

Trucks were forced to dump the waste on the road side after the site was rendered impassable and inaccessible.

Bar and restaurant owners also having no site to dump also took advantage of the same and started transporting their waste to the location at night.

This caused serious environmental hazard putting in mind that it is a residential area.

Friends Initiative for Peace Agents (FIPA) Chairman Boaz Mukaramaoja after receiving several complaints visited the ground where they accessed the damage before they engaged the county director and chief officer of environment who dispatched a team to liaise with the sub county public health officers and FIPA to find a lasting solution.

The recommendation from the findings were that they engage the community on the need to let the county set up a Ksh.20Million transfer station of which the community rejected the offer hence rendering the site unusable.

Mululu commenting on the dumping issues affecting the Northern region encompassing Malava, Lugari and Likuyani, he said the county government was seeking for a piece of land to purchase for the three sub counties to set up a regional transfer station point although according to the civil society, it will be better if each sub-county has its own site noting that it is still costly to transport garbage from one sub county to the other where the central transfer station is situated.

“Currently, the sub county has purchased a tractor to collect and transport the Malava garbage which is normally assembled at the market holding chambers management at the Rosterman dumping site and stated that any other individual and businessmen especially bar and restaurant owners who are dumping waste in Malava forest were breaking the law and risk being prosecuted and instead suggested that through the county community administrators they will sensitize the public and the bar owners to start collecting their garbage especially bottles at a central place outside their premises for collection by the sub county truck.

The newly instituted Northern region environmental officer Josephine Adhiambo confirmed that indeed there were plans to acquire a piece of 5 acres to set up a transfer station but was quick to point out that they had not yet found land for the same.

She said with the acquisition of the station, they will be able to separate, waste in terms of their nature of decomposition and recycling said the county environment department has already traversed the Northern region to path find over the situation.

“I can also confirm that the county CEC lands has began to make follow up on the grabbed pieces of lands belonging to the county in Likuyani sub county where it is in public domain that the alleged owner is already subdividing and selling them,” she said.  

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