Residents have been urged to adopt cremation, even as City Hall begins the search for land for a new cemetery.
Lang’ata Cemetery, the county’s only graveyard, was declared full more than 20 years ago but city residents continue to use it.
The county said the uptake of cremation is slow, yet it is cheaper and environmentally friendly.
Health executive Hitan Majevdia yesterday said many Kenyans abhor cremation because of religious and cultural beliefs.
Most people spend thousands of shillings to transport their loved ones’ bodies to their rural homes. Many often hold fundraisers to foot the costs.
“There is no land in Nairobi and even if it is there, it is very expensive. Kenyans should adopt cremation instead of struggling to buy burial space which is not there,” Majevdia said.
City Hall has set aside Sh200 million to buy land for a new cemetery. A number of attempts to find land have failed.
“We don’t know how many acres we will be able to buy with the money because that will depend on the location of the land,” the official said.
City Hall is looking for land within Nairobi and in the neighbouring counties of Machakos, Kajiado and Kiambu.
Some 372 bodies have been buried in Lang’ata over the last three months, according to City Hall figures. Of those, 119 were buried in April, 122 in May and 131 in June.
Only 22 bodies were cremated during that period. Majevdia said cremation numbers were still low despite charges being reduced.
It costs Sh16,500 to cremate a body compared to Sh30,000 charged for buying a permanent grave for an adult at the cemetery.
Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai and pro-democracy icon Kenneth Matiba are some of the prominent leaders whose bodies were cremated.
Maathai was cremated at Kariokor and Matiba at the county owned Lang’ata crematorium.
“When a prominent person like Matiba is cremated, you see a small surge in the numbers of those seeking to cremate,” Majevdia said.
A source at City Hall yesterday said the administration had found land in Kajiado and the two county governments were in talks.
In 2009, the defunct Nairobi City Council bought 48.5 acres for Sh283 million in Mavoko to be used as a cemetery. But the cost of the land was questioned and it emerged that City Hall lost money as the land was valued at Sh24 million.
In May, former Town Clerk John Gakuo and former Local Government PS Sammy Kirui were jailed for three years each over the purchase.
Majevdia said independent valuers will be involved to avoid another such scandal.