It is a lunch break at a construction site in Narok town. Ezekiel Leboo, 25, a mason is among other 20 men hired at the six-storey building coming up in the town. He picks his plate of Githeri and sits on a protruding stone to eat. He has been doing this since March this year when the construction began.
But his joy is interrupted by a strong odour emanating from a nearby exhauster. The exhauster is collecting waste from a nearby hotel septic tank.
With mean-looking men pushing the waste deeper into the lorry, the odour is exasperated with the influx of flies and splash of dirty water.
Leboo and his team are left with no option but to abandon their lunch and return to the site. The food vendor is also left nursing her regrets of a day gone sour.
“This is the fourth time we are undergoing the same. There is a dire need of a proper sewer system here in Narok town. The pain and suffering these exhausters have caused is immeasurable.” says Leboo.
Along one of the streets in the town bordering a stream, vendors have been forced to close their businesses due to constant foul stench from discharge.
“I closed my shop along the stream because my customers could not withstand the stench. It even becomes worse during waste collection times.” recalls former vendor Jane Ameyo.
At Oltalet Mall, one of the shopping malls in the town, John Nyangau the Assistant Manager narrates with pain how they have had to construct a Ksh.20 million septic tank to solve the waste management problem. But to date, even with the septic tank, they still have to battle the penchant odour, especially during the raining season.
He says that the mall management pays up to Ksh270, 000 per month for exhausting services to private and county waste collectors.
His hopes, like many other investors in the town, are now brightened with the looming modern sewerage system. Nyangau will be forced to renovate the septic tanks before converting it into a water storage tank.
But these challenges will be a thing of the past by mid- December when Central Rift Valley Water Works Development Authority (CRVWWDA) will commission Narok town modern sewerage plant.
The project which is being implemented by CRVWWDA was funded by the African Development Bank and the Government of Kenya.
According to CRVWWDA CEO Eng. Hosea Wendot the plant will start with an initial connection of 500 households but will finally cater for up to 30,000 households.
The CEO also lauded the contractor for doing a commendable work saying it is “up to the right standards.”
“This is the first-ever sewerage plant in Narok town. It will go a long way in improving sanitation and will definitely attract more investors into the town. The waste treatment plant will also see a drastic reduction of water-borne diseases.” Wendot said.
Narok Water and Sewerage Company (NARWASSCO) Managing Director Stanley Kuyoni is confident that the new sewerage plant will not only sort out sanitation problems but also create jobs opportunities for the youth.
“With a capacity of 3000m3 per day, the sewerage plant will change the face of this tourist town, permanently. “he said.
Narok County Commissioner Evans Achoki describes the Ksh1.5 billion gravity flow sanitation project as a game-changer. He lauded the Central Rift Valley Water Works Development Agency for speedy implementation.
County Director of Water and Irrigation Eng. Michael Otieno while welcoming the project says the waste problem in the county is compounded by lack of enough exhausters in the town.
“The available exhausting services are expensive forcing residents to shy away and as a result, causing pollution from the central business district which is detrimental to businesses.” He continues “this has been a hindrance to investors and with the system fully in place and operational, Narok will soon play host to industrial investors, real estate developers among others.”
Narok County Chief Executive of Water and Irrigation Job Ole Kiyiapi says that the plant is one of the best projects in partnership with CRVWWDA.
‘’We expect institutions to pick up and value of the land to double and this is a plus to the residents. For sure, this is a new experience to the Maa community,’’ he said.
According to Eng. Evans Ochieng, the project consultant, HP Mangat a sewerage specialist company took over the site in April 2019. So far, they have constructed a 41 KM of truck sewer covering Narok town CBD and residential areas occupying 11 acres within the town.
Eng Ochieng says that the plant is easy to maintain as it contains six stabilization ponds.
Sino Hydro, the contractor of the plant confirms that the project is currently 98 per cent complete even with the effects of COVID 19 pandemic. At least 40 locals who participated in the construction have benefited from skill training.