One would imagine that those charged with the responsibility of managing our institutions of higher learning, like universities and technical colleges, will be people well-schooled in matters to do with the protection of the environment, that, however, is not always the case, as witnessed at Kabete National Polytechnic.
Mr Patrick Muchemi and his management board at the institution are at the centre of a storm after ignoring pleas from their own students, workers, and neighbours who, for the last two weeks, have pleaded with the management to stop the burning of trash in the open at a waste-yard within the compound, which poses serious health risks to their families. Burning thrash in the open is dangerous, especially among people with sensitive respiratory systems, as well as children and the elderly.
A young couple who resides in the neighbouring Quantum flats told The Weekly Vision that ‘Even though the thresh is being burned on the institution’s property, the smoke is always drifting directly into our units and filling the whole house with disgusting smoke (and we have a newborn baby).’, The couple has called on the institutions’ management to find better ways of disposing waste.
Experts say that burning trash in the open can cause long-term health problems. The toxic chemicals released during burning include nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide, volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), and polycyclic organic matter (POMs).
The National Environment Management Authority’s (NEMA) air quality regulations for open burning of waste say, “No person shall cause or allow emissions of priority air pollutants set out under the Second Schedule from the disposal of medical waste, domestic waste, plastic tyres, industrial waste, or other open burning.” The regulation has been ignored by the Kabete National Polytechnic management team.
Smoke and soot can travel long distances. Odours can be bothersome to people. Both odours and smoke residue can enter houses or can impact anything outside of houses, like cars or hanging laundry. The gases released by open burning can also corrode metal siding and damage paint on buildings.
The air quality around the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Quantum, and the several other flats in the area is so poor that residents have been forced to prepare a petition to be presented to NEMA and the Ministry of Health.