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
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
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.