By MUNYASYA MUSYA
KITUI, October 12, 2017
The County Government of Kitui is spending sh5,5 million to remove and safely dispose toxic asbestos materials that were buried by unscrupulous people on Kiongwe Hills in Kitui East Sub-County.
Speaking when she visited the asbestos site to inspect the removal exercise, Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu praised the firm undertaking the work for their work.
She expressed anger that the land owner visited her office and promised to foot the cost of excavation, removal and eventual disposal of the dangerous materials but vanished thereafter without any trace.
She said the County Government of Kitui was therefore forced to contract a professional toxic waste handler to ensure that the lives of thousands of Kitui residents were safe.
“This is very dangerous and that is why as the County Government of Kitui we contracted this company to remove the asbestos which was buried here unprofessionally even without authority from the National Environment Authority (NEMA) before the rains. We decided we won’t wait for our people to suffer. We are committed to complete the work as soon as possible:, said the Governor.
An asbestos specialist working with West Africa Limited ms Agnes said the asbestos disposed in the wrong place and posed great risk to residents.
“When asbestos is placed in the wrong place and handled in the wrong way there is a problem. There must be eia and geological survey to establish the water level before burying them. Here even a layman can tell they were buried in the wrong place’’, she said.
She said she had written to the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) over the matter and vowed to pursue the perpetrators of the heinous crime until they were brought to book.
She said she would ensure the company and the land owner would be surcharged for the cost of removal and fresh safe disposal of the materials.
She said people living downstream could be poisoned with the cancer causing toxins if the substances were not removed professionally and swiftly before the onset of October-Decmber rains.
Accompanied by her deputy Dr. Wathe Nzau and a dozen members of the Kitui county assembly, the Kitui governor inspected ongoing removal of the toxins from the hill considered a water tower source of Thua River.
The river is source of water to many households for most parts of Kitui East and Kitui South constituencies living along the hundreds of kilometers as it winds through before spilling its water to River Athi.
The irregular disposal of the toxic materials provoked fiery protests by locals who barricaded the Mutito-Kitui road and other adjacent roads for a week demanding immediate withdrawal of the contaminants.
In solidarity, Governor Ngilu had joined the protestors in their day and night vigil where she urged the national government to consider the safety of residents and hurry up with removal of the deposits.
Sonata Limited, a company associated with former NEMA director Maluki Kitili who is son to former Kitui County Women Representative Nyiva Mwendwa is said to be behind the irregular disposal of the waste.