Cemeteries full in Nakuru, officers push for cremation

Friday March 18 2016

Langata Cemetery in Nairobi in a picture taken

Langata Cemetery in Nairobi in a picture taken on October 23, 2014. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL NATION MEDIA GROUP

By MAGDALENE WANJA
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Nakuru residents have been told to consider cremating their loved ones as the two public cemeteries in the county are now full.

County Public Health Officer Samuel King’ori said there was little space left at the Nakuru South, Gilgil and Naivasha cemeteries, and this might be used up before the end of the year.

Recently, there were reports that residents were burying their loved one on footpaths in the cemeteries and that graves are being recycled to create space for more burials.

“The Nakuru North and Njoro cemeteries in Nakuru Town are full and the rest have very little space left,” he said.

He said officials had a problem identifying suitable land with the required type of soil for a new graveyard.

Sellers were also difficult to find as most people will not allow their land to be used for a cemetery because of superstitious beliefs.

“Most people associate cemeteries with bad omens and no one is willing to give up land for such a purpose,” Mr King’ori said.

He also said the law prohibits having cemeteries near water bodies as they can be easily polluted.

The health officer said 63 unclaimed bodies were awaiting burial in a mass grave, taking up precious space.

He said 24 bodies were in the Nakuru County government mortuary, 16 at the Nakuru Level Five Hospital mortuary, 17 at the Naivasha Sub-County mortuary and six at the Gilgil Sub-County mortuary.

He said the bodies had been in those mortuaries since December.

The officer said 75 per cent of the bodies were brought in by police either after crimes or accidents.

Residents yesterday said it would be difficult convince people to cremate their loved ones as Nakuru is a cosmopolitan region comprising various ethnic groups with different traditional customs.

“The body of a loved one must not be destroyed and we will pay anything to bury a relative. Our culture does not allow cremation,” said Mr John Kimanui.

The Nakuru North cemetery was set up in 1918 for victims of the First World War  and successive governments have been using it ever since.

According to another resident, a portion of the Nakuru South cemetery was allocated to private developers who built residential houses around the graveyard, leaving less land for its intended purpose.