Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary James Macharia has stopped plans to put up a landfill in Murang’a County after leaders and residents opposed it.
The landfill is meant to recycle waste and bury biodegradable matter collected from Nairobi, Kiambu, Kajiado, Murang’a and Machakos counties.
In an advert placed in the dailies on Wednesday, the CS said the proposed Sh2 billion sanitary landfill project in Mitumbiri, Maragua Constituency, will be put on hold until proper public participation is done.
“I have directed that the development of this project to stop with immediate effect until widespread public consultations and participation has been undertaken,” he said.
The project, which is under the Ministry of Infrastructure, Department of Urban Housing, is being spearheaded by Nairobi Metropolitan Service Improvement Programme (Namsip).
Mr Macharia said the directive would be lifted once consensus has been reached.
He blamed the strong opposition towards the landfill on lack of extensive and adequate consultation.
Murang’a leaders led by Senator Irungu Kang’ata said they would fight the project, insisting that it would have a negative effect on locals and Mitumbiri area.
Locals also accused the government of failing to consult them, saying private companies want to turn Murang’a into a dumping site.
During Deputy President William Ruto’s recent visit to the county, Mr Kang’ata, who is also the Senate Deputy Chief Whip, said it was unfair for the county to provide water to Nairobi residents while all they would get is garbage.
“We cannot channel our water to Nairobi and all we get is garbage. I will not allow that,” he said during a meeting also attended by CS Macharia, who comes from Murang’a.
Some social media users said they would use all means to block the project and they would not allow “greedy people with selfish interests” to take Nairobi waste to Murang’a.
“We can’t give Nairobi people water and in return they give us sewerage. The project has been opposed in four counties, why did Murang’a give it a clean bill of health?” a social media user identified as Ali Buke wrote in his Facebook page.
However, officers from Nairobi Metropolitan Service Improvement Programme (Namsip) defended the project, maintaining it is not a dumpsite.
Mr Peter Bundi the officer in charge said the project is yet to begin as an Environmental Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) is still being conducted.
He added that they are also holding meetings with the county leadership and residents to inform them on the project and clarify any issues that arise.
During a meeting with county officials last month at the Kenya School of Monetary Studies in Nairobi, Namsip officials said residents should not be worried as the project would adhere to health standards and public health requirements.
“The project is owned by the Government and is funded by World Bank and the Government of Kenya to provide alternative means of waste management disposal,” Mr Bundi said.
He denied claims that the buried matter and waste water would get into boreholes and affect residents.
“The landfill waste storage cells will be lined up with impermeable synthetic which will prevent waste water from seeping into the ground. All the leachate will be entirely collected and treated in leachate treatment ponds before release to the environment,” he told the Nation.
Mr Bundi said locals will benefit from the project as it would create jobs and all counties taking waste to the landfill would pay revenue to the local government.
When the Nation visited the site of the proposed landfill, it found it being fenced and the tarmacking of a 13-kilometre stretch from Mithi area to the landfill was ongoing.
Mr Bundi said the project would cost Sh2 billion and will sit on 33 acres of the 50 acres bought by the National Government. The remaining 27 acres would be used to establish a buffer zone.
He said the landfill will have the capacity to take in 500 tonnes of solid waste a day and after three years the buried organic waste will produce methane gas that will be used for power generation.
Mr Bundi said the programme will be the first in the country and will lead to closure of illegal dumpsites such as the one in Dandora.
Murang’a Deputy Governor Maina Kamau, all the CECs in the county and their assistants attended the meeting and agreed to support the programme.
Maragua MP Mary Waithira has also in the past given a nod to the project.