NMS set to buy new cemetery land to replace full Lang’ata
Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) has begun plans to purchase a new cemetery land to relieve pressure from the already full Lang’ata Cemetery.
To this effect, the Major Mohammed Badi-led administration has set aside a budget of Sh150 million in the current financial year towards the undertaking.
The new development, contained in a report by NMS presented to the National Assembly’s Health committee, will also see the purchase, installation and commissioning of a crematorium at Lang’ata Cemetery.
Nairobi has three biggest crematoriums in the country including Lang’ata, Hindu and Kariokor crematoriums.
“A request to the Land directorate to begin the process of acquiring the land and a discussion with the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) has been initiated. A base budget of Sh150 million has been budgeted for this financial year for the acquisition of the land,” said NMS.
The next step is for the directorate of Land and KFS to identify the specific land in Mugumoini Ward that will be dedicated for the cemetery.
The 100-acre Lang’ata Cemetery has been full for the last 20 years but several attempts by the Nairobi County government to get an alternative land for setting up of a cemetery have borne no fruit, either hitting a dead end or being mired in controversy.
In the 2018/2019 financial year, City Hall set aside Sh200 million for the acquisition of an extra 200 acres of land to serve as public cemetery but nothing came out of the plan.
This has forced families to bury their loved ones in shallow graves, thus failing to meet the recommended six feet depth.
Lang’ata cemetery is divided between a “permanent” and “temporary” section with most poor city residents choosing to bury their family members in a temporary grave which get flattened every five years to make room for more bodies.
Permanent graves for adults at the cemetery cost Sh30,000, Sh4,000 for children and Sh2,000 for infants with non-residents having to pay Sh40,000.
Appeals by City Hall for residents to embrace cremations has fallen on deaf ears with the numbers of burials rising as cremation dipping.
In 2017, an attempt by the county government to use 67 acres of forest land near the Langa’ata cemetery as a graveyard did not sail through after KFS rejected the request to swap the filled-up cemetery with the forest.
A year earlier, in the financial year ending June 30, 2017, City Hall set aside Sh221 million for the purchase of a 120-acre land for burial in Kitengela, Kajiado County. But as other plans, it led to nothing.
But the most sticking controversy in the plans is the Mavoko cemetery land scandal in 2009 where the defunct Nairobi City Council lost Sh283 million in a 48.5-acre cemetery deal in Mavoko, whose actual value was just Sh24 million.
The saga saw a number of senior national government and county council officers implicated in the scandal with the late John Gakuo and former local government Permanent Secretary Sammy Kirui adversely mentioned.