When the current Mombasa County government came into power, one of the promises it rode to power on was to ensure proper garbage collection and disposal. A few months into its term and the government introduced huge trucks parked in strategic places around town where people could place their refuse and the county would dispose of it as it deemed fit. This was greeted with a lot of joy from Mombasa residents who applauded the county government for ensuring sanitation in the city and other places within the county.
Over time however, amid strikes by county government workers, and flagrant sleeping on the job, the trucks are often left for too long before they are emptied, some are also broken down more times than not. Walking around the Mombasa CBD, one gets disappointed seeing how many of the trucks have been left to overflow with garbage, with some littering the streets on the ground near the trucks.
Along with the piling mounds of garbage are Street families who scavenge the heaps for food or other valuables. The smell emitted by the garbage heaps on the trucks and surrounding them is as pungent as it gets.
Kevin Odhiambo, who works on Jomo Kenyatta Avenue says the situation has become too much to bear.
“Imagine coming to work in the morning and being greeted with a smelly pile of rubbish. It kills the morale. The trucks were a good idea, but right now I’d rather something was done about them.”
The consensus seems to be that there is little difference between now and before the trucks were introduced.
“In the past, we used to complain about drainage pipes blocking with dirt and smelly mounds of garbage in street corners now we have smelly trucks overflowing with the same garbage they are supposed to take away. What has changed?” asks Mwenda Katumani, a trader who runs a shop in Siwatu, Kisauni.
The eyesore that was the dump site at Bombolulu is now back. The old trucks are in disrepair and most times they are overflowing with trash and once again the area is foul. The dump site is now back.
Masoud, a resident of Mombasa says the County got it all wrong.
“It would have been easier to buy dumpsters and bins and have them everywhere in the County. Then have a few well serviced trucks that move around all day emptying the trash. No where in the world do people use parked trucks as dumpsters.”
There was a glimmer of hope that the situation would improve when the county government in 2014 signed a memorandum with Bamburi cement that would see the cement plant help the city deal with solid waste in a 4.8 billion plan. Not much has been said of that plan since.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Bamburi Cement Managing Director, Hussein Mansi was quoted;
“The main goal of this project is to address the challenges of solid waste in Mombasa County by developing an integrated solid waste management system.”
Bamburi Cement offered land and final disposal site besides providing scientific waste management expertise and know-how to help the county government manage solid waste.
A county government officer who chose not to be identified assured that the garbage removal trucks are being utilized properly and are emptied as soon as they are full. The county is also allocating its bulldozers to cleanup open air dumping sites regularly and prevent garbage from building up.