, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 27 – They came out in their overalls and boots with their trucks in tow. Vuvuzelas blaring and tree branches in hand, they snaked their way through the Central Business District with the stench of rot following in their wake.
Their destination? “The County President’s office,” their Chairman Samwel Onyancha said.
Their message? “Give us our jobs back,” their petition read.
Or else? “We’ll paralyse traffic until we get our grievances heard,” Onyancha laid out.
It didn’t take long to get their demand met as the ‘County President’ Governor Evans Kidero emerged from his office to plead with them to get their trucks off the road.
“Just move your trucks and we’ll talk,” he negotiated with the garbage collectors.
A condition they were willing to comply with and a few fist bumps later, Onyancha and the rest of their representatives were ushered into the county government sanctum and the garbage trucks driven out of the Nairobi Central Business District.
Their grievances? What they defined in their petition as the “forceful and illegal,” single-sourcing of garbage collectors to operate within the central business district and the surrounding areas.
“On October 3 we received a cessation notice from the Environment Department for Nairobi City County. We were instructed to stop operations in Zone 7 that comprises Kileleshwa, Kilimani, Lavington, Kangemi and parts of Westlands. As far as we can tell, no proper procedures were followed, public participation sought and the tendering process remains questionable,” the garbage collectors, under the banner of Waste and Environment Management Association of Kenya (WEMAK), complained in their petition.
An order which combined with a March directive to stop operations within the Central Business District, WEMAK protested, would render 2,000 youth jobless.
“Where is Ruto?” James Onyango demanded to know from the side of the garbage truck he was riding in. “He and Uhuru’s digital government promised us jobs. Now Kidero wants to take them away. What do they want us to do? Pick up guns?” he said in reference to armed robbery.
The garbage collectors are now demanding that Kidero’s County government give them the leeway to keep Nairobi clean.
“We’ve been doing this for 30 years,” Loota Mejooli said through his brown stained teeth. “He (Kidero) has been around for just a year and he thinks he can just push us aside?”