31 October 2011

Kenya: Recreational Park to Replace Dandora Dumpsite in Nairobi

A recreational park is to replace the heap of filth at the Dandora dumpsite in Nairobi as City Hall prepares to move its garbage collection point to a new site early next year.

Besides the park, the council will also build a gas plant and a waste material recovery plant at the Dandora site.

City Hall last week announced plans to start decommissioning the Dandora dumpsite in January under an initiative funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

The process will go hand in hand with the commissioning of a landfill in Ruai, another proposed venue for gas and electricity generation.

These projects will be implemented in partnership with private companies as part of the council's drive to open a new revenue stream under the devolved government.

"The timeframe for these projects depends on the outcome of the negotiation between governments of Kenya and Japan early next year as well as the feedback from the ongoing public hearings," said Isaac Muraya, City Council's director for environment.

The planned capital projects are expected to significantly raise City Hall's internal generated revenues which stand at Sh9.6 billion according to the council's 2010/11 budgetary estimates. Previous estimates put monthly earnings from the proposed electricity project alone at Sh150 million.

Council Hall has already submitted an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) reports for both the Dandora and Ruai sites to environmental regulator outlining its new land use.

It also plans to start conducting feasibility studies on each of the proposed projects from December. According to its masterplan, JICA expects the full decommissioning of the Dandora Dumpsite to extend to 2016. Just like the gas and electricity generation plants, the waste material recovery facility is expected to attract ready capital from the private sector.

However, City Hall has indicated it will prefer to set it up on its own as part of its public infrastructure programme.

A material recovery facility is specialised plant that sorts waste materials according to their type, making it easier to isolate recyclable ones for further processing into products for sale.

The council's plan is expected to get quick nod from National Environmental Management Authority (Nema) which has previously pushing for a shift to landfills rather than open waste disposal methods.

"Basically, the site where the Dandora garbage lies belongs to City Hall and it can put it to any use deemed fit as long as its EIA is approved," Zephania Ouma, Nema's deputy director of compliance and enforcement told the Business Daily.

But even as City Hall charts a new use for the 43.5-hectare dumpsite, concern is rising over hundreds of people whose livelihoods are threatened.

Last week, the Kenya Alliance of Residents Association (KARA) said the planned decommissioning will disrupt the livelihoods of more than 1,000 families who depend on the Dandora dumpsite.

The lobby group has also taken issue with City Hall's plan to begin the decommissioning process before the Ruai site is prepared, saying a phased transfer where a material recovery facility is built to sort waste before it is sent to the landfill would be preferable.

"A sorting ground should be put in place to secure the livelihoods of the families currently depending on the dumpsite as it will ensure only the biodegradable garbage is transferred to the landfill", said KARA's CEO Mr Stephen Mutoro.

The haphazard decommissioning of the site, Mr Mutoro added, could open to illegal access by private developers beside exposing city residents to spillage of harmful wastes.

"The proponents of the project must be made to deposit a high monetary bond that binds them to adhere to the mitigation measures stated in the EIA study report," said Mr Mutoro.

Last week, however, Mr Muraya said City Hall will unveil its full land use programme, including the resettlement plan for the affected families next month after the conclusion of public hearings of its EIA.

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