Residents of Mdune in Kinango, Kwale County are fearing for their lives following the toxic materials emanating from an old dump site.
The site was used for disposing and burning of tyres and plastic waste materials from various companies.
From a distance protrudes wires and heaps of black ashes depicting a true picture of the activities that used to take place at the site.
According to locals, the waste has turned out hazardous to people and animals.
Juma Karisa, a resident says locals have suffered unknown illnesses due to the waste that pollutes the environment and water sources.
“The black dust materials and corroded wires mix with rainwater that travels down the water streams causing illness,” he says.
The residents depend on the “contaminated” river water for domestic use and their livestock.
According to Douglas Nyiro, another resident, livestock growth has stunted.
Children have suffered stomach and skin-related diseases after swimming in the river.
Currently, the county is experiencing some rainfall and Mdune residents are crossing their fingers there is no major outbreak of water-borne diseases.
According to locals, animals are giving birth to poor breeds and crops don’t do well because of excessive environmental pollution.
Sometimes back, some women alleged that the waste was making their men impotent and less active in bed.
Christine Katande says the tyres pose a great danger to children who play around with bare feet.
“We are always worried; we don’t know what might happen to our children. There are a lot of rusted wires endangering their lives,” she said.
Katande said it has been six years of unsuccessful efforts of trying to have the waste removed.
She said their lives have not been smooth as each time they incur losses from dying livestock and spend money for treatment.
“Once our cattle drink the contaminated water or graze in nearby the dumping site they fall sick and eventually die. Our health is also jeopardised as we frequently seek medical assistance,” she said.
The locals said whatever poison lies beneath the wastes are a time bomb and will in the future cause massive harm to many villagers.
The residents now want the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) to take action against the perpetrators.
Penina Juma says NEMA should probe who used to dump the wastes and arrest them for risking the lives of the residents.
An oil recycling company known as SBNP Ventures that borders the waste dump site also strongly condemns reluctance by authorities to take legal action.
One of the company’s senior managers, Barasa Denis, said the waste has destroyed their business reputation with many residents thinking they are responsible for the pollution.
Denis said the company does not spill any wastes nor produce harmful fumes as everything is being recycled back for use.
However, they have faced frequent criticization from a section of residents terming it unhealthy for their business.
“It is very unfair that we are taking the blame yet someone else is responsible. We found the debris here and whoever is involved should be made to pay for their actions,” he said.
He said the company has complied with the environmental regulations and doesn’t entertain any form of pollution.
Denis said they have decided to join hands with the locals to ensure respective authorities respond to their grievances for mutual benefit.
“We pay millions to the government for licenses, some locals depend on this company for livelihood. So, we are all affected, that’s why are backing the community,” he said.
The company has previously tried to follow up on the issue but nothing has changed yet.
He said they would want to expand the business for more employment opportunities but the wastes are a threat to the company’s future prosperity hence the need for immediate action.