County spends Sh5.5 million to remove toxic waste dumped in Kitui

Kitui County Government is spending Sh.5.5 million to remove and safely dispose toxic asbestos materials illegally buried by unscrupulous people in Kiongwe Hills in Kitui East Sub-County.

Area Governor, Charity Ngilu said she had written to the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) over the matter and vowed to pursue the perpetrators of the heinous crime until they were brought to book.

Ngilu spoke on Wednesday when she visited the asbestos dumpsite to inspect the removal exercise being undertaken by a contracted hazardous waste management firm, Waste Africa Limited.

The governor said she would ensure the people responsible for the dumping together with the land owner were surcharged for the cost of removal and fresh safe disposal of the materials.

She expressed anger that the land owner visited her office and promised to foot the cost of excavation, removal and eventual safe disposal of the dangerous materials but vanished thereafter without any trace.

Ngilu regretted that the county administration was consequently forced to contract a professional toxic waste handler to ensure that the lives of thousands of Kitui residents were safe.

This is very dangerous and that is why my government contracted this company to remove the asbestos which was buried here unprofessionally, even without authority from NEMA, ahead of the coming rains, said the governor.

We are committed to have the work completed before the rains commence to avoid entry of the hazardous asbestos fibers into Thua River thus posing health risk to the locals, she added.

The river is source of water to many households for most parts of Kitui East and Kitui South constituencies.

In July, the irregular disposal of the toxic materials provoked fiery protests by locals who for weeks barricaded the Kitui � Zombe road and other adjacent roads demanding immediate removal of the contaminants.

The Sonata Limited, a company associated with former NEMA Director, Maluki Kitili, son to former Kitui Women Representative, Nyiva Mwendwa, was said to be behind the irregular disposal of the waste.

An asbestos specialist working with Waste Africa Limited said that that asbestos, if disposed or handled carelessly, caused lung cancer to persons inhabiting the area surrounding the dumpsite.

Source: Kenya News Agency