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OPINION: Reports of Toxic Waste Dumping in Northern Kenya Calls for Thorough Investigation



By Hassan Yarrow

The recent shocking revelation made by the former Lugari Member of Parliament Cyrus Jirongo—an insider in the former President Arab Moi’s regime—regarding the alleged authorization of unregulated dumping of hazardous toxic waste in North Eastern Kenya in the 80’s has sent shockwaves throughout the nation.

The gravity of this disclosure, especially coming from someone with close ties to the Moi government cannot, and should never be underestimated.

For years, the people of North Eastern Kenya, along with their leaders, have harboured suspicions about the significant number of cancer cases and unexplained deaths in counties such as Garissa, Wajir and Marsabit.

These suspicions have been linked to the potential dumping of toxic waste by mainly Western firms operating under the guise of oil exploration, authorized by the Kenyan government in the 1980s.

In 2016, the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) conducted a study in the Marsabit area following a cancer epidemic that claimed the lives of over 500 people.

Additionally, thousands of animals perished due to consuming water from underground sources. Shockingly, KEMRI initially refused to publish the study’s results and later audaciously attributed the deaths to impurities in the water, seemingly attempting to absolve the government of any responsibility.

This behaviour only further reinforced the need for an independent investigation.

As a concerned Kenyan citizen, hailing from the formerly Northeastern Province, I implore our current government led by Dr. William Samoei Ruto, to take immediate action in this matter.

It is crucial that an independent panel of intellectual experts, comprising both national and international professionals, be swiftly assembled to locate the affected sites, assess the nature of the hazardous waste, and safeguard the environment and the residents from further harm.

The government must hold the responsible companies, including government officials, accountable for their actions.

Furthermore, the affected families who have suffered the loss of loved ones due to the toxic exposure deserve a just compensation for their pain and suffering.

Only through a thorough investigation coupled with stringent measures can justice be served and the victims’ families find solace. It is imperative that we prioritize the well-being of our citizens and the preservation of our environment.

The alleged toxic waste dumping represents a grave violation of trust and a threat to the lives and livelihoods of the people of North Eastern Kenya.

By addressing this issue head-on, the government can demonstrate its commitment to transparency, accountability, and the protection of its citizens, ultimately fostering a better future for all Kenyans.

The writer is a communication consultant based in Mandera County.


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