Civil servants’ agony as sewerage system collapse in Voi
Living in government quarters is considered a privilege for most civil servants, as the houses are often spacious with a fenced compound.
But in Voi sub-county, civil servants living in government houses under the Ministry of Housing are living in total squalor after the sewerage system serving the houses collapsed.
Over 60 block of houses at Kariokor area is now staring at a health crisis as raw sewage and other forms of waste continue to pile in make-shift drainage pits hastily dug by frustrated tenants after attempts to complain to housing officials failed.
During rainy season, the pits overflow with human waste spreading to a number of houses making it virtually impossible to get access to them. Tenants are forced to hire local help to unclog manually drain the human waste in nearby gardens using plastic buckets.
Speaking to KNA Saturday, Monica Anupi, a resident in one of the houses, said the improvised pits to collect the sewage posed a potential danger to dozens of children in the houses. She noted that such exposed waste was a health hazard but the tenants were helpless to do any forms of repairs.
She pointed out there had not been any effort to repair the sewerage drainage pipes leaving tenants with no option but to hire locals who ferry human waste in buckets.
“It’s very risky for children running all over with these pits open. Once full, we get a hired hand to ferry it away in buckets,” she said.
During a spot check by KNA, Mzee Swaleh Mdawida Shaaban, a hired hand to drain the pits, was busy at work draining a sewerage hole by one of the tenants.
He said he was often called to drain overflowing human waste. He is also hired to unclog pipes that were choking with sand. His specialty however is to ferry raw human waste and other liquid waste from the drainage pits. Armed with oversize gloves, he scoops the, foul-smelling waste from the pits in a plastic bucket and disposes it some distance away in a small unkempt garden.
He makes a dozen such trips until the sewage had subsided before covering the pit with a rusty iron sheet. He said the iron roof was to keep the stench away.
“This is one of the holes I deal with. There are several others where I go to fetch sewage. I have to help because sewerage drainage is gone,” he said.
Mdawida, who is an expert in sewage drainage, says he is simply bailing out fellow human being from their perennial suffering.
The tenants argued that the ministry of housing had neglected the houses that are dilapidated. Ms. Eva Manzo, a tenant, says the officials should ensure the sewerage system was working or hire the services of an exhauster to carry away the waste. She added that though they were paying for the houses, they were forced to spend money hiring waste collectors; a service the Ministry of Housing was supposed to provide.
“They don’t care. I think we are forgotten here,” she said.
Naftaly Mwangeti, a housing official in Voi, admitted that the houses were in sorry state. He added that the houses needed a major make over including having a fresh coat of paint, a fence and electricity connection. He explained that the houses were built long ago and were falling apart over age.
“We need at least over one million shillings to do major repairs,” he said.
The collapse comes after the Voi Pool Housing Project seem to have stalled due to lack of adequate funding. The project which started in 90′s has consumed Sh750 million. The Mwakingali Pool Houses comprise of 11 maisonettes, each with a servant quarters, 36 three-bedroomed and 60 two-bedroomed houses. Another project at Kariokor stalled due to land wrangles between the government and a section of residents.
In an inspection tour in July 2016, the then acting Works Secretary in the Department of Public Works Engineer Mbui Kimani said works was to be completed as more allocation had been set aside during the last financial year. Once completed, the project is expected to house over 100 civil servants in Mwatate and Voi sub-counties.
However, all those grand plans do little to offer hope to the long-suffering tenants of Kariokor government houses. The collapse of the sewerage system becomes an additional pain the list of catalogue that makes living in the houses a challenge.
Mwangeti said attempts by the officials to install special covers for the sewerage pits have failed as the covers were always stolen. He confirmed that the stop gap measure adopted by the ministry officials was to hire locals to manually drain the overflowing sewerage pits. Sewerage exhausting companies in the region were charging sh 2,000 per trip, which he termed as high.
Tenants in other houses are forced to use candles and hurricane lamps at night to light their houses as there was no electricity.
By Wagema Mwangi