POLLUTION

Lives at risk as apartments discharge human waste into Mavoko water bodies

Residents threaten to demonstrate against property owners

In Summary

•The apartments, especially those in Mlolongo and Athi River, discharge raw waste using well-hidden underground pipes and drains to the water bodies.

• Residents accuse the administration, environmental agencies and politicians of turning a blind eye as their health is threatened.

Raw sewerage discharge from a high-end apartment in Mlolongo, Machakos County on November 19.
Raw sewerage discharge from a high-end apartment in Mlolongo, Machakos County on November 19.
Image: GEORGE OWITI
An outlet discharging raw sewerage from Bluebells apartment in Mlolongo, Machakos County on November 19.
An outlet discharging raw sewerage from Bluebells apartment in Mlolongo, Machakos County on November 19.
Image: GEORGE OWITI
A man washes fish he bought at Kicheko dam in Mlolongo on November 19.
UNFIT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION: A man washes fish he bought at Kicheko dam in Mlolongo on November 19.
Image: GEORGE OWITI
Men conducting fishing at Kicheko Dam in Mlolongo, Machakos County on November 19.
Men conducting fishing at Kicheko Dam in Mlolongo, Machakos County on November 19.
Image: GEORGE OWITI
A waste pipeline to Kicheko dam from one of the apartments..
WASTE DISCHARGE: A waste pipeline to Kicheko dam from one of the apartments..
Image: GEORGE OWITI
Fisherman Moses Ochieng'. He ekes out a living in the contaminated Kicheko dam at Mlolongo..
UNSAFE: Fisherman Moses Ochieng'. He ekes out a living in the contaminated Kicheko dam at Mlolongo..
Image: GEORGE OWITI

A section of Mavoko residents in Machakos county has threatened to demonstrate against owners of some high-end apartments for discharging sewerage in water bodies in the neighbourhood.

They accuse the administration, environmental agencies and politicians of turning a blind eye as their health is threatened.

Star investigations show that human waste and sewerage are discharged in the open, dams and streams, which all end up in River Athi where some people fish and others source irrigation water.

The apartments, especially those in Mlolongo and Athi River discharge raw waste using well-hidden underground pipes and drains to the water bodies.

The contaminated water is used to irrigate vegetables and other food items sold to unsuspecting consumers in Mavoko, Nairobi, Kitengela and Machakos town.

The residents say their complaints have fallen on deaf ears as the apartments belong to tycoons and influential people.

“Those guys are wealthy, they can order us to get out of this dam,” fisherman Moses Ochieng' said.

The 41-year-old father of five fishes at Kicheko Dam. He is among tens of others who derive their livelihood from the water body.

“The dam is polluted with raw sewerage from the high-end apartments. We suffer a lot. Our bodies itch and some of us have contracted some diseases we associate with the polluted water,” Ochieng' said.

He said domestic waste should be discharged in septic tanks.

“It's not only fishermen who use the water.  Farmers also use it to irrigate crops for sale in Mlolongo, Syokimau, Athi River, Nairobi, Machakos and their environs,” Ochieng’ said.

Kicheko village elder David Mutua showed reporters several plastic pipes from the apartments draining into the dam.

He said they had on many occasions reported the pollution to relevant authorities but no action had been taken against the ‘tycoons’.

“People are sick from water pollution. Our water bodies, including dams, rivers, are infested with raw sewerage which end up in River Athi," the 70-year-old Mutua lamented.

He has since 1982 been using the dam water to grow his vegetables. 

Mlolongo farmer and businessman Daniel Mwanza said some industries also direct their untreated waste into rivers.

“We have raised our concerns with Nema, Machakos county environment and public health departments as farmers and residents but no action has been taken,” Mwanza said.

When contacted for comment, Machakos Nema director Sofia Mutemi asked this reporter to provide names of the pollution culprits.

“I am in the middle of something. Let me finish so that we talk later,” she said by phone.

Mavoko Water and Sewerage Company managing director Michael Mang’eli said: “I am on leave. I will be back to work next week.”

 

Raw sewerage discharge from a high-end apartment in Mlolongo, Machakos County on November 19.
Raw sewerage discharge from a high-end apartment in Mlolongo, Machakos County on November 19.
Image: GEORGE OWITI