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County leaders tour Tanzania landfill project as doubts linger

World Bank-funded Landfill Technology environment projects already in place in the East African region pose no health hazard or harm to the flora and fauna in areas they are located.

The bank’s consultant in the region, Dr Florian Kolsch said in Arusha, the projects are intended to offer a solution on modern ways of waste management in the region undergoing fast urbanisation.

“There are more people living in towns and cities here today than a decade ago. Modern technologies to manage waste are a must as opposed to dumping,” he told a delegation of Murang’a county government officials, members of the County Assembly and ministry of Transport officials who had visited a Tanzania Sh4 billion (US$ 1.82 million) World Bank-financed Muriet Landfill Project near Arusha town recently.

Kolsch called for closer collaboration among sister states on finding solutions on how best to manage solid waste. “The bank’s designs take into account worldwide issues to do with health and environmental safety in line with international standards. It’s not in our interest the projects fail,” he said.

Peter Bundi, a senior assistant director at Kenya’s ministry of Transport, said once decommissioned, landfill projects can be transformed into recreational areas or even turned into power-generation projects. 

He said East African Community member states have come up with plans on how to regulate air quality, adding that other states can benefit from modern waste management programmes by Tanzania and Kenya.    

Dr Kolsch allayed fears that landfills pose environmental threats. “Part of the mission of the bank in line with one of the sustainable development goals is to promote sound solid management to replace dumping in seven Tanzania cities and Kenya,” he told the delegates.

Earlier, the Marie Landfill Project site was the scene of ugly clashes and demonstrations after the current lord mayor of Arusha town and local civic leader, Kalisti Lazaro mobilised residents to oppose the project at the initial stage.

Similarly, sections of Murang’a MCAs on the bench marking tour have taken a hardline stand against construction of the proposed landfill project at Mitumbiri, Wempa ward in the county.  Bundi blames the division on lack of knowledge of the benefits of the project.

In March, Transport Cabinet Secretary, James Macharia slapped a temporarily ban on the construction to offer an opportunity for members of the public to give their views. The Murang’a project is being funded jointly by the World Bank ($300 million or Sh30 billion), with an additional $30 million (Sh3 billion) support from the Kenya government.

Dubbed the Nairobi Services Improvement Project (NaMSIP),  it is an undertaking  of the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development’s State Department for Housing and Urban Development.

The Tanzania managers of the project, led by Head of Sanitation and Environment, James Lobikoki, explained to the Kenyans  how the project works.

Mayor Kalisti Lazaro, a diehard opponent of the project when the process started in 1999 but now a convert, said:   “We were against the project when I was the village’s chairman. Today, residents will vote me out if I oppose this project. The waste offers jobs to locals and provides raw material for some local companies. They actually transport it to Nairobi for recycling purposes. We have five landfill projects and we plan to build two more,” he said.

County majority leader Erick Kamande Kimani and nominated MCA who represents women and the youth, Lilian Nyaguthii Kabaka termed the mission to Arusha an eye-opener. “I will now endorse the project back home. We came here to learn from our sister state on the pros and cons of a modern waste management solution so that we can borrow a leaf. We now want our project to be the best. On the other hand, we did not want to be blamed by our people for endorsing a project we did not know about in case it backfires,” said Kimani.

For Kabaka, the job-creation potential for young people and attracting other investors was the clincher.

According to Lobikoki, the landfill project that started as a dumpsite came into operation in 2014.  It has since seen Arusha town that generates 271 tonnes of waste daily emerge top as a leader among Tanzanian towns in cleanliness.

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