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The stench of neglect: Muthurwa market traders choke on uncollected garbage

Traders in one of Nairobi County’s biggest markets have complained of an acrid smell emanating from uncollected garbage that has been piling up for the past month.

Muthurwa, a popular market for second-hand clothes, fresh food and hotels, is now slowly becoming one of the illegal dumping grounds in the county.

Despite Governor Johnson Sakaja’s promise to end the garbage collection menace, traders complain that the situation is getting worse.

For them, the stench is driving away customers and the area is becoming dangerous as some street families have made it their home.

“We have complained through our representatives and to the market director’s office, but nothing has been done. Now we fear for our health,” said one of the traders.

Some of the eateries and hotels around the market are also complaining, asking the district to come to their aid, saying the number of customers has decreased since the problem started.

“Ikiendelea hivi naona tu tukifunga duka juu harufu mbaya imejaa na nzi wanaingia kwa chakula. Mimi ninategemea sana hii kazi yangu. Tunaomba hii takataka itolewe hapa jamani (If this persists, I see us closing down because of the stench and houseflies getting into the food. I rely on this job. We ask that the garbage be removed),” said Njoki (not her real name).

Some also claimed that since the area is supposed to be a collection point, the waste collectors deliberately wait for the amount of waste to increase so that they can make more money from it.

The problem was also noted by Muthurwa market chairman Nelson Githaiga, who said the situation was getting worse.

The county government’s failure to collect garbage on time has also prompted some traders to use the market as a dumping ground, bringing in their waste at night.

According to some market officials, the problem has been exacerbated by infighting between the chief officer for Mobility, Mr Boniface Nyamu, and Mr Geoffrey Kimutai Tirop, who is the chief officer for works.

However, Mr Tirop dismissed the allegations of bad blood between the two offices.
“There is nothing like that. These are just rumours that should be dismissed,” said the engineer.

Mr Nyamu failed to appear before the County Assembly Legal Committee, chaired by Mugumu-Ini MCA Jared Akama, to explain why some refuse trucks had not been fuelled.

The governor recently boasted that he had improved the face of the city by increasing the number of trucks collecting waste.

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