Kitengela residents have opted to raise own funds for construction of a Sh39 million sewer line after years of unfulfilled promises by county and national governments that has left them exposed to infectious diseases.
The residents, comprising at least 279 landlords with property in the Export Processing Zone Authority (EPZ) area, are the sole financiers of the project that seeks to improve hygiene and sanitation in the area. The EPZ neighbourhood has been picked to pilot the project that promoters hope to extend to the wider Kitengela township.
The sewer line that seeks to cover 45 kilometres and join the EPZA Athi River Sewerage system in neighbouring Machakos County will benefit at least 300 rental flats and 100 homes with a population of more than 20,000 is set to be operational in six months.
The populous Kitengela Township currently relies on septic tanks for waste management, but rising cost of hiring exhausters has occasioned frequent sewer overflows that have significantly increase health risks in the area.
Public health officials have expressed fear that the septic tank overflows may have contaminated some borehole water connections in the area. Speaking during the official launch of the sewer line project at Kitengela, the residents claimed that efforts to reach out to both the national and county governments to build the key water and sewerage infrastructure in the area had been unsuccessful forcing them to opt for the self-help option.
Contributions for construction of the sewerage line began in 2015 and were immediately followed by a Sh3 million feasibility study that paved the way for the three-phased construction work to begin.
“Raw sewage flows freely from most residential and business premises in this town exposing us to outbreak of waterborne diseases. We decided not to wait any more for government but to do it for ourselves,” said Beatrice Wambui, a local resident.
Titus Ndei, the secretary- general of the self-help group, said the sewer line’s coverage range was decided after wide consultation with stakeholders and regulatory authorities. “We shall not relent in our quest to get this infrastructure built and improve the lives of Kitengela residents,” said Mr Ndei even as he called on the county government to support the initiative and ensure completion of the sewer line and its extension to cover the larger Kitengela area.
Lack of a working sewerage system has left Kitengela township with exorbitant exhauster charges that currently stand at between Sh12,000 and Sh18,000 per trip. The waste is ferried to Machakos and Nairobi counties for disposal. The high cost of waste disposal has forced landlords to ration water usage in their plots to cut down costs. None of satellite towns in Kajiado County has a sewer line – a reality that has continued to expose residents to health hazards.