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Nairobi County searching for land where the dead will rest in peace

In 2008, the then-Nairobi City Council declared that the famous Lang’ata Cemetery was full and that an alternative site needed to be found to serve as a cemetery.

Nearly 20 years later, however, the cemetery is still in use, with the county government saying there is still space for about 2,000 bodies.

“The facility still has space and we will continue to bury our loved ones there. We have made a lot of improvements,” said Tom Nyakaba, Nairobi County Public Health Chief Officer.

While the 100-hectare cemetery is full, it has emerged that bodies are being buried on top of previous graves, which are temporary.

Surprisingly, the county says there are other public cemeteries in the county that should be used for burials as an alternative.

Mr Nyakaba said residents should consider using eight other municipal cemeteries, even as the county government works to take over all such cemeteries.

These include Nairobi South Cemetery along the Uhuru Highway next to Nyayo Stadium, Kariokor Christian Cemetery which is close to the Muslim Cemetery, Pangani Cemetery and Forest Road Cemetery which is a civic cemetery.

“We have a cemetery at Forest Road where the tycoon Tob Cohen is buried. It is an Israelite cemetery but there is a section for other people,” said Mr Nyakaba.

Mr Nyakaba said there was another community cemetery in the Mutuini area, another in Ruai and another large cemetery in Uthiru.

According to the Chief Officer, the county is in the process of reclaiming the grabbed land used as a cemetery along Mbagathi Way.

“The other cemeteries are still community cemeteries and we have now agreed to take them on board as county cemeteries because the issue of management of county cemeteries is a county function and we have now moved to ensure that all these other cemeteries that were initially under community management come back to the county management system.”

He also said that the land next to the new NPS hospital is a cemetery land that is currently in the hands of land grabbers.

“Some people have encroached on this land. We will work hand in hand with other authorities to ensure that we claim it so that it can be used as a cemetery for the people of Nairobi.

The reason people prefer Lang’ata Cemetery is because of its location and prestige.

Types of graves

There are two types of graves in Lang’ata Cemetery; permanent graves and temporary graves.

The permanent graves are limited to one body, which is also determined by the amount of money used to purchase the status.

In the case of temporary graves, the county uses the space to bury more bodies after a period of time in the same spot where the first body was buried.

Permanent graves cost Sh30,000 for adults, Sh4,000 for children and Sh2,000 for infants.

For people outside Nairobi, permanent graves cost Sh40,000.

Mavoko land

The defunct City Council of Nairobi paid out Sh283 million in 2009 to acquire a 48 acre piece of land in Mavoko, Machakos County to be used as a graveyard, a matter that turned into a scandal which saw some county and government officials being arrested.

Speaking over the Mavoko land, the Chief Officer said that the land in Mavoko is unlikely to feature in government Johnson Sakaja’s administration.

“The land which was procured by the national government in Mavoko is outside the boundaries of Nairobi City County, so we cannot use the land as of now. We can only utilize what is within the boundaries of Nairobi City County unless we have some special arrangements with another county.”