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New dumpsite poses health risks to slum dwellers

A new dumpsite is slowly and steadily cropping up in Mukuru kwa Njenga slum even as the county government denies knowledge of its existence.

The dumpsite covering several acres is hidden deep at Mukuru kwa Njenga’s boundary with Mukuru kwa Reuben and Lunga Lunga slums.

It attracts people from within and outside the area driven by their quest to generate income from waste.

Residents said the dumpsite was initially a quarry which upon abandonment got filled with water.

It became a threat to health as it was also used by criminals to dump human bodies.

The depression, they thought, needed to be filled and garbage was as good as any material to level the ground.

The dumpsite is gaining popularity among waste disposal truck drivers who say the place is more convenient than the Dandora dumpsite.

One driver said: “We find this dumpsite more convenient and safer than the Dandora dumpsite which is full of criminals  and it helps us to evade paying tax,” said one truck driver.

County Hall, however, says she is unaware of a dump site in Mukuru kwa Njenga even as thousands are put at the risk of contracting diseases from solid and liquid waste dumped there.

This, in spite of truck drivers saying they have on several occasions clashed with the county askaris over dumping at the site.

“We sometimes are waylaid by county officials trying to stop us from coming here. But we still come because we have to look for money,” said one businessman.

Garbage collectors do their business during the day. Nairobi News found numerous trucks dumping, while many others were collecting garbage sorted in terms of plastics, paper and other materials.

And Nairobi News can now reveal that apart from the normal domestic and office garbage, dangerous medical waste; including syringes, catheters, medicine bottles, bandages, blood test kits and other forms of waste are discarded at the site every day.

Scavenging

At the time of visit, numerous people were scavenging for different items including used catheters and syringes. This, in spite of a Ministry of Health regulation that requires proper disposal of medical waste by hospitals.

They described the business as their ‘sole livelihood’, collecting anything of value from the mountains of trash without putting on protective gloves is their everyday work, in spite of the health risks they seem to understand all too well.

But the County Director of Environment, Mrs Leah Oyake said: “We have only one legal dumpsite in Nairobi, the Dandora site. If there is dumping going on in Mukuru, it is totally illegal. We are not aware of it.”

The official said they would investigate.