Mombasa residents and visitors have now been ‘spared’ putrid smell and toxic fumes following the shutting down of Kibarani open dumpsite.
For five decades the expansive solid waste dumping site has been emitting offensive smoke presumed to be hazardous to health.
The dumpsite situated at a strategic area of Makupa Causeway has been an eye sore to residents and tourists arriving from Moi International Airport and Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) at Miritini.
Almost the entire garbage collected in the tourist resort town and its environs was being dumped at Kibarani resulting to environmental health hazards and marine pollution.
Mountains of garbage which often spill over into the ocean, nauseating smell and endless fumes from the area have been a major concern to residents, environmentalists and tourism stakeholders.
Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho announced the closure of the site early this week when he visited the area together with Principal Secretary for Environment Ali Noor Ismail, UNEP Regional Director Juliette Biao Koudenoukpo and other stakeholders.
Joho said ‘the dumpsite was “a threat to human and marine life,” adding that the county government will bring down all illegal structures at Kibarani and reclaim the land for recreation purposes.
Last year, President Uhuru Kenyatta directed the National Land Commission (NLC) to revoke the allocation of the Kibarani dumpsite land to private companies and hand it back to the County Government of Mombasa.
President Kenyatta said the dumpsite be decommissioned and land used for development of recreational facilities as part of the efforts to support repositioning of Mombasa as a top tourist destination in the region.
The Presidential directive attracted swift action from the land commission, National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and a Parliamentary committee in charge of environment.
The land commission confirmed that a total acreage of the Kibarani land is 32 acres, but only 8 acres is remaining and about 55 parcels of land have been allocated either illegally or legally.
NLC Chairman Mohamed Swazuri said three companies were allocated land irregularly and mentioned Asian Inland Seas, Khalid Ahmed Limited and M-Tech Limited as companies owning four parcels of land at Kibarani.
Swazuri who toured the dumpsite revealed that the land initially belonged to the Ministry of Livestock and was used as a holding ground for the livestock meant for export through the port of Mombasa.
National Assembly Committee on Environment visited the dumpsite and expressed concern over reclamation of riparian land by two private developers.
The committee which was led by its chairman Kareke Mbiuki summoned NLC, Kenya Ports Authority, Mombasa Cement Company and Multiple Haulier to appear with documents to prove ownership and who authorized it.
“The reclamation of riparian land at Kibarani is a case of massive corruption and must stop forthwith,’ said Mbiuki.
Well-connected and influential individuals including those who were fraudulently allocated land at Kibarani have frustrated efforts to relocate the dumpsite.
Meanwhile, Governor Joho has revealed that the county government has embarked on a long-term solution of managing millions of tons of garbage being generated annually in the coastal city.
“This will include clearing of plastics from our ocean beaches and devising methods of turning the marine trash into economic venture,” said Joho.
The governor confirmed that waste management in Mombasa is still a challenge and called for a collaborative effort to find a lasting solution.
He said: “there is a need to educate our people on the importance of keeping our beaches clean and protect the environment.”
The Governor said the waste that is being produced in large quantity on a daily basis could easily be transformed into income generating products and create job opportunities for the locals.
The tourist resort town of Mombasa is among coastal areas where pollution of the ocean by plastics and trash is a common problem that is washed up to the beach with devastating marine implications.
Along the coast line from Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi and Lamu counties, the sandy beaches are littered with plastics that have been washed up from the ocean.
The trash along the ocean does not only present danger to marine life and environment but also an ugly thing to visitors arriving to savour its beautiful sandy beaches stretched out from the South to the North coast and tropical ambience.
According to the World atlas, nearly 513 million tons of discarded plastics end up in the oceans every year posing danger to the globe.
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Regional Director Koudenoukpo who suggested that Africa should come up with measures to deal with biodiversity threat saying the continent produces about 125 million tons of solid waste yet only 4 percent is recycled.
She noted that the mounts of waste generated in the continent could be turned into economic benefits including job creation and poverty alleviation.
As the Kibarani dumpsite shuts the county authorities say Mwakirunge will be the new dumping site.
The Mwakirunge site established in 2008 to ease pressure on the old Kibarani dumping ground is situated in Bamburi some 25 km away from the seaside city.
By Mohamed Hassan