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January 20, 2019

Barefoot pupils wade in sewage as illegal dumping rules in Korogocho

Illegal dumping at Ngunyumu Primary School in Korogocho yesterday /JULIUS OTIENO
Illegal dumping at Ngunyumu Primary School in Korogocho yesterday /JULIUS OTIENO

The health of teachers and more than 850 pupils at Ngunyumu Primary School in Korogocho slum is at risk  because of illegal dumping.

Teachers and pupils often fall ill after inhaling smoke and enduring the smell caused by rotting and burning garbage.

The school is surrounded by garbage disposed by trucks that avoiddumping at the Dandora dump site.

Dahabo Guyo, a member of the school’s board of management, said cases of pupil  and teachers being absent due to illness have become the order of the day.

“Even as we talk, two teachers are in hospital. Several children are also absent. They are all sick because of inhaling the bad smell. These people dump all over the place and go ahead and burn it. Children are coughing,” Guyo said.

He said the situation worsens when it rains. Children walk barefoot in the rotten garbage and overflowing sewage.

“These children come from a poor background. Their parents cannot afford to buy them shoes so you can imagine,” she said.

City Hall said the dumpsite is run by gangs who are paid by unscrupulous businesspeople. It said it is planning a major operation in collaboration with the police to clear the area.

“I am aware of the situation there. It is a security issue besides the health concerns,” Environment executive Larry Wambua said.

When the Star visited the school on Sunday, there was a huge cloud of smoke that had engulfed the area.

Opposite the school, two blue trucks were being emptied. 

Street families surrounded it, scavenging for food.

Sewage flowed freely and some children played in stagnant water near the school. 

Guyo said there has been a shortage of teachers after many resigned early this year.

“Teachers do not want to be posted here and the few who are here are leaving because of the conditions,” she said.

one kilometre away

Resident Abraham Odhiambo, whose children go to the school said Korogocho and Gomongo slums have severely been affected by the illegal dumping.

“Life is unbearable, but there is little we can do. The county should come to our rescue because we and our children are sick,” he said.

Korogocho slum is less than a kilometre from the Dandora waste yard but the two are connected by a bridge that is too narrow for trucks to use. 

Trucks transporting waste to the site can only access it using Komarock Road from the Outering-Juja road roundabout.

Last week, Governor Mike Sonko said the county will clear all illegal dumpsites in the city and turn them into children playgrounds. 

An illegal dumpsite in Kangemi was last week cleared by the county and grass planted.

Dandora is the county’s only legal dumpsite, but several places – roadsides, estates and markets - have been turned into waste yards. 

All the 2,500 tons of garbage collected daily in the city are supposed to be taken there. 

But according to the county, only about 1,500 are collected and deposited in Dandora.

Early this month, Sonko launched a monthly cleaning initiative in the 85 wards.

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