City garbage collection in a tussle

Uncollected solid waste is one of Nairobi’s most visible environmental problems. Many parts of the city, especially the low and middle-income areas, don’t even have waste collection systems in place.

In high income areas, private waste collection companies are booming. Residents pay handsomely without really knowing where the waste will end up.

Nairobi’s current waste disposal system is fraught with major problems. These range from the city’s failure to prioritize solid waste management to inadequate infrastructure and the fact that multiple actors are involved whose activities aren’t controlled.

There are over 150 private sector waste operators independently involved in various aspects of waste management. To top it all there’s no enforcement of laws and regulations.

Nairobi Public Accounts Committee (PAC) last week queried Environment Chief Officer David Makori after it emerged that Hardi Enterprise is owed Sh22.6 million for the provision of heavy equipment and machinery in July.

However, another firm by the name Purlexis Limited is owed Sh2.2 million despite providing the same services as Hardi Enterprise.
A county watchdog committee is probing how different garbage collection companies are paid different rates by City Hall for the same services. Mr Makori, however, explained that the variations in payment were occasioned by one of the firms working for longer hours and deploying more trucks.

It also emerged that City Hall had failed to renew contracts of over 30 garbage collection firms whose contracts expired in February, leading to the accumulation of garbage in the Central Business District and in estates.

There are currently only nine garbage contractors serving the entire county on a rotational basis. Each has been appointed to cover more garbage collection areas based on their capacity City Hall owes eight of the nine contractors Sh227 million for garbage collection for the last three months.

But the committee faulted the decision to use contractors on rotational basis, saying the firms were overwhelmed hence the piling garbage.

Nairobi produces up to 2,500 tonnes of waste every day but is only able to collect 1,800 tonnes. This presents a shortfall of 700 tonnes that City Hall says it has scaled up efforts to collect.

For Germans, waste collection and disposal are self-evident. However, this is the result of a long development in the field of waste management, waste technology and waste regulations.


In Germany, waste management now aims to conserve natural resources and manage waste in an environmentally sound manner, whereby sustainable strengthening of environmental and climate protection measures, as well as resource efficiency, play a key role.

The centerpiece of Germany’s Waste Management Act is a five-level waste hierarchy that lays down a fundamental series of steps comprising waste prevention, reuse, recycling, and other elements besides, including energy recovery, and finally waste disposal. In any given instance, the best option from an environmental protection standpoint always takes precedence, whereby ecological, technical, economic and social effects are to be taken into account as well.

Thus waste management practices in Germany systematically aim to minimize waste generation and maximize recycling, while at the same time ensuring that the remaining waste is disposed of in a manner consistent with the common welfare.

Well let face it garbage will forever be menace in Nairobi city if we cannot find a way to dispose it effectively or how to recycle because that will be our solution to the garbage menace in Kenya.


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