The Business Community in Taita Taveta County have complained to the area County government over piling garbage in major towns in the area which sometimes remain uncollected for over a week .
The traders among them restaurant owners, shopkeepers and boda boda riders in Voi, Mwatate and Wundanyi said uncollected garbage have become an eyesore and a health hazard due to the terrible stench emitted by rotting heaps.
Speaking to KNA on Sunday, Mr. James Okuku, a cobbler working next to a garbage receptacle in Voi town, said the stench was overwhelming.
He said the receptacle was a favourite breeding ground for maggots, roaches and rats.
“Apart from pests, we have bloated stomachs from inhaling the bad smell on daily basis. This issue needs urgent solution,” said the cobbler.
Other traders say the garbage-collection problem started in 2016 and has persisted to the agony of many people working in town.
Mr. Gabriel Njae, an hotelier, said he was losing clients who were moving away to hotels located in garbage-free zones.
“The garbage remains uncollected for many days until it starts decomposing. The smell is unbearable,” he complained.
The situation has escalated due to the recent mango glut in the region.
Rotten mangoes, vegetables and food waste from hotels and markets dumped are at the receptacles where they liquefy after decomposing.
Frequent dumping results to garbage overflow and emission of foul smell that has raised health concerns among the residents.
When contacted, the County Executive committee member for Environment Janet Oben admitted garbage collection has been a challenge because the county has only two trucks covering three sub-counties.
She added that the trucks were old and collected garbage in towns and several suburbs around urban centers.
She assured the business community that the government plans purchasing an additional garbage truck so that each sub-county would be served by one truck.
“We want to buy another truck which will bring the number to three. That will see the garbage collection frequency go up,” she said.
She further said her department was preparing a paper to be tabled before the cabinet with a proposal to outsource garbage collection services to private investors.
This would be done in a public-private partnership once the proposal is accepted.
However, local residents say for such an arrangement to work, the county must review its Finance Act 2018 which stipulates that private garbage collectors will be required to pay sh 300,000 monthly fee to the department of public health.
Annually, private garbage collectors will pay a staggering sh 3.6 million to the county to collect garbage.
“The rates are too hostile to investors. If we need help in garbage collection, we should have friendlier rates,” he said.
Currently, the only garbage collectors are youth groups who operate in several estates including Sofia, Mazeras, Kaloleni and Mwakingali.
They have entered into private agreements with tenants to pay a small fee for such services.
“The county can hire youths and allocate tenders for garbage collection. But there is need to review the rates downwards to make sure the fee charged are manageable,” added Rev. Zowe.
He urged the county to repair dilapidated garbage receptacles that were falling apart.
Ms. Oben said she would do a proposal on reviewing the rates for garbage collection but noted it would involve input of several departments and members of County Assembly.
By Wangema Mwangi