Unfenced dumpsites in Lamu Old Town are a time bomb waiting to explode.
Over the years, the situation has left hundreds of donkeys dead or sick after consuming poisonous materials from the garbage sites.
In 2013 for instance, over 500 donkeys died as a result of what was believed to have been the eating of plastic bags and poison at one of the dumpsites in Lamu Island and the other adjacent islands in the county.
Speaking in Lamu Tuesday, donkey owners said most of the garbage sites in the town have been left open, which has attracted many donkeys into feeding from them.
LIVING IN FEAR
Lamu Donkey Owners Association Spokesman Maarufu Kidege said many of them have been living in fear of losing their animals if proper interventions are not made to fence off the garbage sites.
Mr Kidege said apart from being a health risk to the donkeys, the open dumpsites might turn the historical town of Lamu into a litter hole since all manner of garbage is being spewed back on the streets of the town by loitering donkeys scavenging for food.
“Sincerely speaking, many of the donkey owners here in the Lamu archipelago have been living in fear of losing our donkeys from plastic waste consumption and other dirt from the open dumpsites. All manner of materials are being littered all over. The county government should consider fencing off the garbage sites to prevent donkeys from reaching those places and getting harmed,” said Mr Kidege.
Mr Said Hassan said for the past several years, there have been numerous calls from members of the public and environmental activists for the county government to fence off the garbage sites to prevent possible outbreak of diseases but nothing has so far been done.
Mr Hassan expressed hope that once all the garbage sites are fenced of, their donkeys will be more productive and healthier.
He said they are forced to restrict the movements of their donkeys to prevent them from going to the dumpsites and feeding on dirt.
“Some of our donkeys have already died while others are sick because of eating dirt from these dumpsites. The county should listen to our cries and fence off these garbage sites. They should also think of transferring those garbage sites from the town centre,” said Mr Hassan.
The donkey owners also welcomed the 2017 ban on plastic paper bags, saying it has enabled their donkeys to live longer than before.
“Many donkeys were dying after consuming plastic bags that were always littered all over the county’s major dumpsites. Since the ban was introduced, our donkeys are at least living longer. In fact, the Lamu donkey population has greatly increased since then. We still call on the county government to fence off the dumpsites,” said Mr Abdalla Shee.
Donkeys are Lamu’s major mode of transport and a revered symbol of heritage in the Old Town, a Unesco World Heritage site.