Burning waste without authority to attract Sh500,000 fine

The new law was passed last Tuesday, sponsored by South B MCA Waithera Chege.

Endmor factory on Mombasa Road during full production. Image: FILE
Endmor factory on Mombasa Road during full production. Image: FILE

Burning any waste at a public disposal site in the city without authority of the chief officer for Environment is now an offence.

“Any person who contravenes this section commits an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine of not less than five hundred thousand shillings or to imprisonment for a term not less than six months or both,” the newly passed Nairobi City County Air Quality Act 2021 says.

The new law was passed last Tuesday, sponsored by South B MCA Waithera Chege.

“It is a new dawn for solutions to air quality in the county,” Chege said on Sunday.

The MCA said on phone that the new law puts stringent measures on industries that have been freely polluting the air.

Chege said individuals burning garbage and other waste will also be dealt with in accordance with the law.

She said some hospitals were disposing their waste carelessly, exposing dangerous objects such as needles in areas where children play.

“Everyone should help Nairobi to manage waste as well as in improving the quality of air,” she said.

Industries that contravene standards and measures of the Act commit an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not less than Sh1 million or to imprisonment for a term not less than two years or both.

The new law comes as the United Nations Environment Programme says Kenyans are exposed to 22 micrograms per cubic meter a year which is 2.2 times the World Health Organization’s limits.

“Nine out of ten people worldwide breathe air containing levels of pollutants that exceed World Health Organization limits,” Unep says.

Air pollution is the greatest environmental threat to public health globally and accounts for an estimated seven million premature deaths every year.

Unep says air pollution and climate change are closely linked, as all major pollutants have an impact on the climate and most share sources with greenhouse gases.

It says that improving air quality will bring health, more net development and environmental benefits, along with mitigating climate change.

The Unep’s pollution dashboard displays the global state of air pollution, major sources, the impact on human health and national efforts to tackle this critical issue.

Unep says 92 per cent of the world’s population experienced PM2.5 concentrations in excess of the WHO guideline of 10 micrograms per cubic meter in 2019.

Particulate matter is a common proxy indicator for air pollution.

It affects more people than any other pollutant.

The major components of particulate matter are sulfates, nitrates, ammonia, sodium chloride, black carbon, mineral dust and water.

Chege said Nairobi does not have good garbage waste management measures, with garbage in residences being an eyesore.

She said everyone must ensure that the place they do business must be spruced up to 10 meters.

Chege said Nairobi Metropolitan Services has tried sprucing up the CBD.

She warned industries that have been polluting the environment to style up.

Chege said the people she represents in the Nairobi Assembly have borne the brunt of toxic emissions by industries.

Environment is a shared function between City Hall and NMS following the signing of Deed of Transfer of functions on February 25, 2020 between the county and the national government.

The Act says no person is allowed to burn used lubricating oil, hazardous substance, biomedical waste, motor vehicle tires, animal or human cadavers, railway ties and any other wood treated with wood preservatives, waste materials from building or construction sites, or resulting from demolitions unless permitted under written law.

Others not allowed include trash, garbage, litter or other waste from commercial, industrial or public operations, materials containing rubber or plastics spilled oil or oil products and by products.

No person shall burn or permit to be burned any waste, garbage or litter.

The new Act seeks to provide a legislative framework on air quality in order to protect the right to a clean and healthy environment by providing reasonable measures for the prevention of air pollution.

The act applies to any premises used for any industrial or trade purposes or on which matter is burnt in connection with any industrial or trade purposes, including open burning.

It also applies to any other premises or processes that discharge and emit or is capable of discharging or emitting air pollutants into open air.

Others that the Act applies to include any industrial plant, any fuel burning equipment including vehicular, industrial and domestic sources, quarrying and mining activities.

The Act also applies to any activity that may by order be specified by the Executive Committee Member in Kenya Gazette.

Edited by Henry Makori

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