Monday, August 18, 2008

Dagoretti Houses Of Filth

The closure last week of the Dagoretti slaughterhouses is no surprise. As much as we do expect to see blood in a slaughter house, the footage of the abattoirs on TV was disturbing. The kind you really don’t want to see. There was bloody goo on the floor and workers wading through it in gumboots. There was more blood and parts on the counters. And to think that after all this the effluent is then directed to the already choking Nairobi River!

Closing the slaughter houses was an almost obvious course of action. It’s the Dagoretti residents’ reaction that was rather out of line. Some time back on TV, in an unrelated topic, Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe remarked that Kenyans want the law to be followed but only when it does not apply to them. That statement rang true as the residents of Dagoretti took to the streets last week to protest the closure of the filth emitting abattoirs. Staging a demonstration and engaging the police in running battles shows that Kenyans are facing a phenomenon that is new to them – following the law. There are set environmental regulations and it’s up to every mwananchi to follow them. If the government and UNEP are pumping in excess of 150 Million into cleaning the Nairobi River, then everyone who can should also play an individual role towards the same and the environment as a whole.

The butchers are not being asked to stop operating, they’re being asked to clean up their act as far as waste management is concerned. Dumping live waste into the river is something the butchers should have stopped doing out of their own conscience long before NEMA came calling. And furthermore, just like the matatu owners during the Michuki crackdown, the abattoir owners had been given a three month notice by NEMA. Only after expiry of the grace period did NEMA take the drastic action. I remember when Michuki was streamlining the matatu industry, Kenyans were right behind him and were ready to become a walking nation for as long as it took in support of the proposed changes. We should apply the same spirit and if need be go meat free for as long as it takes. Not just for the sake of the environment but for our health as well.

As much as we want the government to streamline every aspect of our lives, we as the citizens also have our part to play. Aside from the butcher issue, take the case of the overloading matatus. Who are the passengers? Is it not the very wananchi who are vilifying Mwakwere for sleeping on the job? Are they not asleep on the job too? If you get into a matatu that is already full and you don’t fasten your seatbelt, what does Mwakwere have to do with it? To a very large extent Mwakwere has failed, but to a smaller extent so have the citizens. Likewise if we pollute the rivers ourselves, who then are we going to blame?

Beth Mugo’s intervention if we may call it so is just pure politics. She’s in a classic catch 22 situation. She’s the minister for sanitation and should be blessing NEMA for what they did but at the same time it is her constituents who are polluting the environment. She needs their votes next election and we can therefore see why she’s supporting them as they break the law. For her it’s just political expediency.

17 Comments:

Kirima said...

Vegetarian lifestyles would be attractive until you realize that the effluent from the dagoretti abatoirs is used to irrigate several small scale vegetable farms downstream which end up on Nairobi dinner tables.
My question to Nema is why stop at Dagoretti all slaughterhouses need to meet this standards I have been to the one at Kiserian and its just as bad. I think Kenyans should see the hygene standards at the Farmers Choice plants which meet the international accepted HAACP standards so that they can see how meet should be handled.
Beth Mugo should be thanking NEMA for doing what she should have done long ago!

Shiko-Msa said...

Oh my Kirima the irrigation thing! ha ha ha. But to think of it Cow Dung is good for manure. The blood on the other hand.......aargh!

NEMA are on record saying that the same will be done to other slaughter houses even in other towns where I'm sure the standards are not any better. They're most welcome to do just that.

Beth Mugo is in such a fix I don't envy her. This crisis falls squarely on her laps as minister for matakataka begging to be sorted out. And yet sorting it out means going against her constituents. Her votes for 2012. What's the girl to do?

But it's Kudos for NEMA for standing up to her. It's a good thing such bodies now have some teeth. Gone are the days when they just existed but were governed by the political elite. I hope things continue that way.

BP ONE said...

Shiko…..an excellent post… I agree with the Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe “Kenyans want the law to be followed but only when it does not apply to them”… remember few weeks ago before Dagoretti residents’ reaction to the closure of the Dagoretti slaughterhouses and Beth Mugo’s intervention, the coast politicians were protesting the sacking of KPA managing director even after it was proofed to them and the world that their man was incompetent.
If we really want Kenya to progress and achieve high economic and social standards, I insist Kenya needs a benevolent dictator….. I, sometimes, think honorable Michuki might be the right person to be the president of this country…thou my suggestion might seem to be a dangerous prescription for the nation it is worth trying it and giving Mr. Michuki a chance.

BP ONE said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shiko-Msa said...

BP Thanks. I remember we had the dictator debate once at Domo although the idea has never really sat well with me. I was in it for the fun floating names like Al-Bashir and Mugabe.

I do agree Michuki can really whip us all into the right direction if he accepts the right direction in the first place. But remember what power does. He might get to the top and just take a completely different direction you wont imagine he's the same Michuki you know. Remember Professor Kivutha Kibwana, Koigi Wamwere....... something happens to these people when they get into power. Look at Beth Mugo even. She knows what is the right thing to do but power and votes come first!

Mcheku said...

I support NEMA in their endeavours. Those errant people are now playing victim yet they are putting millions of peoples lives in danger. I fear for those parking boys who bathe in that river obviously I could see the water was dirty but I didnt know they were bathing in meat waste. These abattoir owners are reacting as though they heard that directive for the first time. They are clearly on the wrong and they still want to fight it, well their MP comes in to support them without shame as though Nairobi River is confined to Dagoretti Constituency only! These people make me sick!

And where has the City Council been now that NEMA is intervening? Is this the first time the Nairobi City Council is hearing of this? That is another lot that only knows how to collect money for licences and not deliver any services at all. Hata periodic inspections hawawezi!!

Shiko-Msa said...

Mcheku imagine a law maker helping her people break the law! That's another first. These people will still retain their jobs only in a cleaner environment.

Forget about the Kajuras. They're too busy going for each other's throats and fighting with desks and chairs!

acolyte said...

I know the residents of dago are up in arms but they had quite sometime to clean up this mess and did jack, so I dont see why they should be acting like they are exempt.
Plus it was about time the river was cleaned to know that some of that filth is what is irrigating what gets onto some of our plates is nothing short of disgusting.

Shiko-Msa said...

Acolyte the irrigation thing is just so uncomfortable to think about! I don't reside in Nairobi but I know there must be some stuff we are eating here too that is not too pleasant. for that reason I hope NEMA makes their next stop here.

Rafiki said...

OMG, soon we may not have enough meat in Nairobi to feed our nyama choma with Tusker culture! Hey, let's change and try out some nice Kenyan cheeses then: their quality has really gone up over the past few years. It's a pity though we don't have any good Kenyan wines to go with these tasty cheeses. But beer could also do, maybe something like Sierra?

Sayra said...

Shiko long time ...

From that clip i know am not taking meat any soon ... it was soo disgusting to say the least.
Luckily for us kenyans there are people who are busy working and NEMA and the Ministry of Environment are some of them.

Its funny how some would go demonstrating over a clean-up process and its not hard to see how their priorities are inverted ... but what is even more 'funny' is how their leader would go out with them, instead of advising them.

Shiko-Msa said...

Hey Rafiki to think of it. Thanks for highlighting Kenyan Cheese. But last I checked it was really expensive I wonder whether they've priced it any better? Cheese is much healthier than nyama choma for sure. It's unfortunate our wines are not competitive. It's all about high cost of production and heavy taxes that make imports cheaper. Whose ministry does this fall under?

Sayra I'm still in denial and still eating meat for now although I know even here there must be some dirty slaughter houses only we have not seen them on telly. Maybe when NEMA comes calling - and I hope they do, then I'll give meat a break.

Maua said...

From now on, I'm a self declared veggie when I'm in Kenya. It'll be boring without our kawaida nyam chom but health first.

Beth Mugo has nothing to worry about, come 2012, the meat industry will have improved so much in her area due to this saga, and no one will remember the past.

Shiko-Msa said...

Maua dont worry. by the time you come back things will have straightened out.

But read the first comment by Kirima then you'll decide whether you really really want to be a veggie Lol.

I guess at this rate then we shall all go back to good old maize!

Rafiki said...

Shiko, it depends on the type of cheese of course, but some of them now cost less than 400 bob per kilogram. And surprisingly, Kenyan cheese can now even be bought online, something which I have never seen in the nyama choma business. I have just posted some more info on my blog.

Shiko-Msa said...

Sawa Rafiki. I'm headed to your side.

kingg said...

meat and gore can't be separated, animal right people do not need to be visiting places like this, at my local slaughter house in kansas they and the health people are the most feared and we have a code if they ever dicide to drop by.