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It’s three-in-a-grave as land crisis deepens

Up to three bodies are being buried in one grave at Lang’ata Cemetery as the search for a new graveyard runs into headwinds.

Graves are being re-opened and new bodies buried at four-and-a-half feet depth while in some cases, a third body ends lands just three feet deep.

County Executive member in charge of Health, Dr Timothy King’ondu, has sounded the alarm, threatening to close the cemetery if no new land is found in the next six months.

Dr Kingondu’s frustrations come in the wake of reports by Mugumo-ini County Rep Alex Otieno that hyenas from forested areas off Ngong’ Road, Nairobi National Park and the bushes near Karen were digging up human body parts from which bones were strewn on the roads.

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‘It is now a stigma living around the cemetery. It must be closed now,” said Mr Otieno.

But Dr King’ondu’s worry was that the only land left in Nairobi that could be used as a burial site was a parcel near Lenana School, off Ngong’ Road or another one in Dagoretti. “We need land with red soil and a drainage that does not drain to any river. It also must be accessible by road,” said Dr King’ondu.

Although the Lang’ata cemetery filled up 18 years ago, the search for a new site has always hit a snug.

About 150 to 200 acres were needed, Dr King’ondu said, and this was not easy in Nairobi. Counties that neighbour Nairobi such as Machakos, Kiambu and Kajiado had become apathetic to any idea of selling land to used for burial.

But as a quick fix, Mr Otieno proposed the County Government should first buy some 55 acres just next to the Lang’ata cemetery, owned by an individual. “We cannot wait longer. The government can evoke the law of compulsory acquisition to get the land as it looks for the second land,” says Mr Otieno.

But this could take longer as a tug of war has ensued between the county government and the National Government.

Lands Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu has been accused of slowing down the purchase of new land since she was ordered by President Kenyatta to intervene in July last year.

According to correspondence seen by Nairobi News, Mrs Ngilu asked Governor Kidero to furnish her office with ideal land specifications, which Dr Kidero’s office has done.

In response to a motion filed by Mr Otieno and passed by the County Assembly on June 25 last year, Dr King’ondu expressed frustration at Mrs Ngilu’s pace.