STINKY, UNSIGHTLY

Pre-colonial open sewer giving Lamu Old Town a bad name

The situation has become a hygiene headache for residents, tourists and cleaners.

In Summary

• The old town has for decades had open trenches of dirty sewage water.

• Residents are worried that the situation could result in a disease outbreak.

Open sewers in Lamu island.
Open sewers in Lamu island.
Image: CHETI PRAXIDES

Lamu island residents have urged the county government to upgrade the sewerage system in the old town to improve hygiene.

The old town has for decades had open trenches of dirty sewage water. 

The situation has become a hygiene headache for residents, tourists and cleaners with sections of the town stinking.

There has seen an increase in flies and other crawlers that come with poor hygiene, especially during the rainy season.

Lamu Old Town was in 2002 listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site, owing to its culture and heritage spanning decades.

The historical town has over the years, however, witnessed challenges in its drainage system, which emanates a bad smell.

Residents are worried that the situation could result in a disease outbreak and have urged the county government to intervene and have the sewers replaced with closed ones.

Sometimes the dirty water spews onto streets, into residential homes and business premises.

Areas worst affected by the situation include Mkomani, Gadeni, Bajuri, Riyadh, Mtamuini, Langoni and Bosnia.

The old open-type sewers have existed since the pre-colonial period.

Lamu Old Town community policing officer Alwy Abdallah said the only solution is to instal sewerage systems with closable septic vents.

“It’s our hope that the county will treat this matter with urgency before we begin experiencing outbreaks of diseases. Let them bring in a proper drainage and sewerage system,” Abdallah said.

Tour guide operator Sobhana Fadhil said the situation has scared off tourists as spillages from the trenches leave the streets dirty and unsightly.

"Tourism is a big deal for us but it is being affected by this whole situation, yet nothing is being done,” Fadhil said.

“This is a key tourist destination that needs to be kept clean and attractive. Unfortunately, that is not the case at the moment.”

Residents also urged the county government to improve general cleanliness in the town by introducing more garbage collection bins and laws to ensure beaches in the archipelago are not littered.

Efforts to reach Lamu Municipality manager Omar Famau for comment were unsuccessful as his phone went unanswered.

Edited by A.N                                                

Open sewers in Lamu island.
Open sewers in Lamu island.
Image: CHETI PRAXIDES
Lamu island.
Lamu island.
Image: CHETI PRAXIDES
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