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Kisumu residents await transformation of Kachok dumpsite into park
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|Kisumu residents await transformation of Kachok dumpsite into park by Kenyans247(1): Mon 02, November, 2020 03:29pm|
By Elizabeth Ojina
Nation Media Group
It is early Friday morning and young street boys in Kisumu are wading through heaps of garbage searching for metal and plastic which they intend to sell to recyclers.
This is their trade, and the broken glass and toxic waste in the garbage is not a bother to them.
While at it, they look for leftovers — perhaps their meal for the day.
When a truck approaches to dump fresh garbage, they rush to receive it, all in a bid to get the first chance to scavenge through the latest arrival.
This has been the daily happening at Kachok, Kisumu's largest dumpsite.
The 44-year-old dumpsite, which sits between the Mega City mall and Moi Stadium Sports Grounds, has a long history.
Since the inception of devolution in 2013, the dumpsite has gobbled up millions of shillings as past and current regimes made attempts to relocate it.
For years, Kisumu politicians have used the dumpsite as a campaign tool but little was done.
The perimetre wall at the Kachok dumpsite.
Elizabeth Ojina | Nation Media Group
However, there is hope for residents after Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o last year revealed plans to transform the eight-acre Kachok dumpsite land into a recreational park at a cost of Sh130 million.
Last year, the county government flattened part of the dumpsite and relocated part of the garbage to a quarry as it embarked on setting up a botanical garden.
Landscaping, which includes the planting of trees, grass, flowers and shrubs, was to cost Sh1 million. Walking trails were to be established inside the park as well as the construction of an ablution block at a cost of Sh2 million.
The planned recreational centre will house a resource centre, a children’s park corner in memory of Baby Samantha Pendo, a swimming pool and an open gym. This, however, is yet to commence.
A botanical garden has already been established in 2.45 acres evacuated during the first phase.
The dumpsite’s relocation was part of Governor Nyong’o’s campaign agenda.
In the initial phase, the county government spent approximately Sh300 million to evacuate the eight-acre mountain of solid waste that has been a menace to Kisumu residents for over 35 years.
Relocate remaining garbage
Recently, the Kisumu County government embarked on relocating the remaining garbage to 207 acres of land in Kasese, Chiga within Muhoroni Sub-County.
The Sh34 million land has already been handed over to the county government.
The Kasese land will be used for waste management while the rest will be reserved for other county projects
According to the acting City Manager Abala Wanga, resources have been mobilised, site engineers are on the ground and there is enough personnel available and ready to kick start the relocation of the dumpsite.
"The land in Chiga is ready for use, but the two roads leading to the site are in bad condition due to the heavy rains," says Mr Abala.
They plan to use six trucks to move the garbage from Kachok to Kasese in Chiga.
"We have stopped the dumping of waste at Kachok. All the fresh waste will be dumped at Kasese once the roads leading to Chiga are done," he told Nation.Africa.
For residents around the dumpsite, the foul smell has become part of their lives.
Mr Elvis Owili, a resident of Makasembo Estate, says he has grown up seeing the huge mountains of garbage at Kachok.
"Well, Governor Nyong'o tried and removed part of it. However, for months now the garbage has fast accumulated to the point of spilling over the perimeter wall," he tells Nation.Africa.
Apart from the air pollution, the dumpsite has become nuisance to football lovers.
Although there are no matches currently being held at the sports ground due to Covid-19 pandemic, officials have called for relocation of the dumpsite.
Stadium manager Dominic Mwalo feels the efforts by the county government are not enough.
He questions the county government’s plan, particularly how it seeks to ensure that no of garbage us dumped at Kachock after the relocation is done.
The stadium holds 5,000 people. It is the home ground to Kisumu All Stars, Kisumu Hot Stasr and Western Stima while Gor Mahia has been playing some of its matches here.
"The dumpsite has messed up the picture of the sports ground. It is a tedious task controlling the birds coming from the garbage site which often land in the stadium. To make it worse, traders are [selling their wares] right outside the stadium and it is a nuisance," Mr Mwalo laments.
Also enduring the foul smell of the garbage heap are traders operating around the area.
The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic saw fresh produce traders pushed from the popular Kibuye market to the precincts of Moi Stadium grounds as a temporary market. For seven months now, they have had to endure the foul smell from the dumpsite.
Among them is Ms Mary Otieno.
"We have no alternative place to go to. Since we were relocated here we just have to get used to this environment," she said.
The Vic Hotel Kisumu situated just next to Mega City Mall has also had to endure the garbage headache for the last 14 years.
The three-star hotel, as well as some major supermarkets such as South African retailer The Game and Naivas are among the victims of the foul smell from the dumpsite.
Finding alternative land for the dumpsite site has not been easy for the county government and the issue has been dogged with controversy.
Five years ago, former Governor Jack Ranguma’s administration purchased land for a dumpsite in Kibigori, Muhoroni Constituency but residents opposed the move.
They said if not well-handled, the facility may pose a major environmental threat to water sources and cause other forms of pollution.
Already, the current plan is facing opposition, with residents of Kasese in Muhoroni rejecting the county government’s plans to relocate the Kachok dumpsite to their area over environmental concerns.
In 2017, the county also faced a major setback after the French government opposed a proposed landfill in Muhoroni due to distance.
The county had also planned to fence off and landscape the area to keep off ‘purported owners’.
There is a land ownership suit in court over the Kachok dumpsite after two private developers claiming land ownership revived the almost two-decade-old case.
Two brothers, Kishor Dayalji and Nilesh Dayalji, have claimed ownership of the property in a case which they allege stalled after the file went missing for a while.
In the case, which was heard by Justice Anthony Ombayo on October 17, the brothers are seeking to stop the former Kisumu municipal council (now Kisumu County government) from using sections of KM block 9/126 as a dumpsite.
The two claim they are the registered owners of the plot. They insist they bought it at a public auction on May 5, 1998.
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