A row is brewing between Nyeri County and National Environment Management Authority (Nema) over the relocation of the county's largest dumpsite.
Recent efforts by the county to reclaim the Asian Quarters grounds, that are choking in waste and filthy smell, by moving tonnes of garbage to the lower side of the field barely 100m from River Githwariga have sparked protests.
A section of residents and Nema officials have opposed the move, warning of the effects the waste will have on the river and the environment.
Nema officials ordered the county to withdraw its machinery at the site, accusing it of failing to submit an environmental assessment impact report.
“Before [moving] the dumpsite the county should have submitted an environmental assessment report and explain to us the activity they wish to carry out at the site,” said Nema’s county director Stephen Njoka.
The county is among entities that dump garbage collected from various places, including waste from the Nyeri County Referral Hospital, at the site making it a health hazard to families leaving in the area.
Some residents have been forced to abandon their homes while landlords have been left with few tenants.
The illegal dumpsite has been sitting on the Asian Quarters grounds in Nyeri town for more than 20 years with successive governments promising to deal with the eyesore.
Governor Mutahi Kahiga defended the exercise, accusing Nema of failing to move the dumpsite as it had promised.
“We have struggled to bring it down and now we have an issue with Nema officials who are saying they want to take us court. And I am asking, where were they when that dumpsite was an eyesore?” he posed.
The Transport and Infrastructure minister Muthui Kariuki said the county will get rid of the garbage once it acquires an alternative dumpsite outside Nyeri town.
Mr Muthui downplayed reports that the waste will cause environmental degradation, saying the county will bury the waste 40 feet under.
“Nema promised to relocate the dumpsite but immediately they realised we were managing the situation, they have developed an unhealthy appetite to stop it,” he said.
Environmental consultant Wamuyu Gathinji said if the waste is not properly disposed of, the river will be contaminated when it rains.
Ms Githinji said establishment of a sanitary landfill would be a better long-term solution.