By Abdi Hussein
Kajiado residents have expressed concern over dozens of abandoned quarries that have recently turned into death traps for residents and their livestock..
Kajiado County boasts of the biggest building and road construction raw material quarries instrumental in boosting the construction industry in Nairobi and environs due to its proximity to the capital city.
Kajiado North Sub County takes the lion share of the multimillion enterprise attracting both local and foreign investors. Several quarries in this region have been instrumental in construction of Eastern by -pass and Standard Gauge railway (SGR).
These quarries have been a consistent source of revenue to the devolved unit contributing to a significant percentage annually but a thorny issue to neighboring residents.
A spot check by County Press indicated multiple abandoned quarries that were left unattended after the excavation of raw materials by both local and international companies.
Tuala village residents in Kajiado East Sub county tell of untold suffering occasioned by quarry activities.
Here, three major quarries were abandoned after raw materials excavation is causing resident’s sleepless nights. The three Tuala quarries are more than 50 feet deep and occupy almost a two-acres piece of land.
Currently, the three quarries are filled with flash floods water.
“Several livestock have recently died in the dams and we fear criminals could be using the quarries to dump bodies of their victims,’’ said Philip Tima,Tuala resident.
In 2019, members of the Senate land, Environment and Natural Resources committee made an impromptu visit at Tuala village after public outcry.
The committee chairperson senator Mwangi Githiomi ordered a contractor to adhere to Environment Impact Assessment license guidelines. Only a simple barbed wire fence was constructed at the site.
However, when reached for comment, Senator Mwangi promised to follow up to know what transpired after his committee gave some directions.
“Am aware residents were compensated for losses that had been caused by heavy blasts. The committee will follow up to find out why the abandoned quarries were not attended according to environmental regulations,” said Mr Mwangi on phone.
Few kilometres away, Kerarapon residents in Kajiado North Sub county have borne blunt of abandoned multiple quarries in the neighboring Ngong Veterinary farm.
Despite enduring heavy blasts from the quarries for years, partially destroying their residential homes, some of the abandoned quarries have become death traps for locals.
Deep gaping holes have been left unattended posing a great danger to the locals. Several members of the public have been at loggerheads with a contractor prompting temporary suspension of operations by National Environment Management Authority only to resume after a few months later.
More abandoned quarries are spread all over Kajiado North Sub county in both private and communal lands.
Former Kajiado Senator, Eng Peter Mositet said wanton environmental destruction is being witnessed across Kajiado North Sub County due to raw material excavation.
At Nkurunka village, Kajiado East Sub county, abandoned quarries are all over. Locals claim these quarries have become a source of pain and anguish to them.
In this village, several people are said to have drowned and died in abandoned quarries for the last five years. Cows and sheep are said to have fallen victim of the abandoned quarries.
National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) has issued a stern warning for companies violating Environment Impact Assessment license guidelines issued by the environment watchdog at the beginning of excavation exercise.
According to Kajiado County NEMA director Joseph Kopenjo,the environment body has been strict on clearing contractors to leave the site before approval of quarry decommissioning plan.
“Any contractor is supposed to rehabilitate and ensure the quarry is not dangerous to members of public and their animals. “ said Kopenjo.
Meanwhile, Kajiado County Government is moving in earnest to shut down 90 percent of quarries in Kajiado County for breaching Environmental regulations.
Recently, the county government conducted an audit to more than 200 quarries operating in Kajiado County after members of public hue and cry on environmental pollution.
Ninety percent of the quarries audited were found to be operating illegally in total violation of Environmental regulations and set standards.
Kajiado County CECM in charge of water and environment Michael Semera says most quarries cannot pass the Environment Impact Assessment test.