Clean-up of Nairobi rivers uncovers grisly find of 14 bodies

Friday May 24 2019

Nairobi River cleanup

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko inspects the clean-up of Nairobi River on May 24, 2019. PHOTO | POOL | NAIROBI COUNTY 

AFP
By AFP
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A major operation to clean up the trash-clogged rivers in the Kenyan capital has led to the grisly discovery of 14 bodies, most of them babies and children, the local government said Friday.

On Friday, clean-up crews found the body of an eight-year-old boy who had been strangled and dumped near the Nairobi River, just days after the bodies of twin babies were discovered in a plastic bag.

"Nairobi county youth conducting cleaning of Nairobi River have today (Friday) found yet another body of a... boy strangled and dumped near the river," said county government spokesman Elkana Jacob.

"This makes a total number of 14 bodies of adults and infants retrieved from Nairobi rivers since Governor Mike Sonko launched the clean-up exercise," he said.

Nairobi's name comes from a Maasai phrase meaning "place of cool waters", however the main river and its tributaries have fallen prey to industrialisation and chaotic urban planning.

Factories spew industrial waste into the rivers, while dozens of informal settlements with no proper sewage system or trash removal fill them with garbage and human waste.

WORRY

Governor Sonko announced the latest in a string of clean-up operations over the past two decades in May 2018, however it began in earnest in early 2019.

"These numbers of dead bodies retrieved from rivers are worrying. We have called on the police to investigate these cases. Who are the people behind these senseless killings," he said in a press statement Saturday.

"Once we have clean running rivers, no one will dump anything into the waters without being noticed. My teams are working round the clock to ensure we achieve what we have decided to do."

Aside from eight infants and the young boy found Friday, the bodies of five adults were also found during the operation this year in the Nairobi River, and its tributaries the Ngong River and Mathare River.

ABORTIONS

Fredrick Okinda, chairman of Komb-Green Solutions which is assisting in the cleanup, blamed illegal clinics performing abortions for some of the bodies found. He said some appeared to be foetuses.

"Some hospitals here are doing abortions to young ladies and they don't have any place to dump the bodies," he told AFP.

Abortion is illegal in Kenya unless the life of the woman is in danger.

Some of the babies appeared to have been "thrown after being born", said Okinda.

His organisation had buried some of the babies next to the river.

"We are not surprised because you know this is a slum area... so when we come to the cleanup we were ready to face any challenge as long as we reclaim the lost glory of Nairobi River."

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