The Kiambu County government has ordered Jungle Nuts Company to stop garbage collection in Thika and its environs, rendering about 200 people jobless as the authority maintains it was not consulted by the firm.
In a letter dated January 8, Water, Environment and Natural Resources executive Esther Njuguna says Jungle Nuts’ refuse chambers constructed at various collection points in Thika are outdated and an environmental hazard that will be demolished.
The refuse chambers are part of Jungle Nuts’ corporate social responsibility initiative which enables jobless youths in Thika town to collect refuse from commercial plots, at a fee from tenants, and share the proceeds equally.
Some of the refuse chambers set for demolition are in Makongeni and Pilot estates.
“We have also found out that people paid by residents to manage their household waste dump it in the chambers, which makes them overflow all the time,” reads a letter from the county.
Ms Njuguna told the Business Daily on a phone interview Monday that the county government had budgeted Sh35 million this financial year to go towards environmental management issues similar to what Jungle Nuts is doing.
“For this financial year, we have set aside Sh35 million, which is supposed to go to such projects,” she said.
“This should be the responsibility of the county government and there was no clear communication when this project was started, we should have been involved,” she said.
But Patrick Wainaina, who started the project, said there were better avenues to resolve the matter instead of demolishing the chambers and spending more money rather than strengthening the initiative.
“This project serves a lot of people as a form of livelihood and its appalling given the (number of ) dependants that rely on them,” said Mr Wainaina.
Ms Njuguna also blamed Jungle Nuts for renovating a primary school in Thika without consulting the county government, which she termed as unacceptable and illegal.
“As a county government we embrace structured positive partnerships with stakeholders for complimentary purposes. The department is dedicated to executing its mandate as provided in the Constitution and ensuring citizens’ input in a clean environment by adapting technologies and models that will ensure environmental sustainability.”
“The county has also started replacing masonry refuse chambers with skip bins which are more environmental friendly,” she said.
The refuse chambers were started by Jungle Nuts Foundation last year.