The Smoke Pollution In Mukuru kwa Reuben Is Harming Residents.
The smoke pollution in Mukuru kwa Reuben is harming the residents health.
There is hardly a pattern in the flow of settlements in most Kenyan cities and suburbs. Heavy industries are wedged between residential houses and schools. That is the case with a school in Mukuru kwa Reuben slum, off Enterprise Road. There have been repeated health problems caused by smoke pollution in Mukuru kwa Reuben.
The school has a total of 274 students, from creche to highschool. The school building is located between Bhachu Industries Limited and its subsidiary, Accurate Steel Mills.
Some of the children run around on the playground, indifferent to the smoke and dust. Others go to use the toilet. Teachers remain in class waiting for the end of break time. The fact is wherever you are in the school, nobody escapes the toxic smoke from the factories.
“What can we do? They need to finish their syllabuses before the school year ends,” a teacher says.
Residents of Mukuru kwa Reuben have repeatedly complained to the government and yet nothing has been done.
Lucas Maina, a resident who has lived in Kwa Reuben for 28 years, has this to say: “I have worked for Bhachu in the past. At the end of the day, you have to put food on the table. If you complain about your welfare, the following day you can’t step foot near the factory. So you just keep quiet,” he says.
While Mende (real name withheld), another resident, worries for her husband who works for Bhachu. “He struggles to breathe,” she says. “He suffers from a congested chest, and this has been getting worse over the years. Our hands are tied because that is where we get our daily bread.”
Health problems caused by smoke pollution in Mukuru kwa Reuben
Industrial factories should never be anywhere near residential areas. But with Bhachu Industries Limited and Accurate Steel Mills so close, Mukuru kwa Reuben residents have been bearing the brunt health-wise.
The CEO at Mukuru Kwa Reuben Clinic Elijah Gachuki receives up to 40 patients on average per day. And all of them come bearing respiratory tract infection and diseases.
Gachuki thinks that the proximity of these factories and the volume of pollution is responsible for the residents' health problems.
Briefing the Star, he said,“Most of the patients we see have upper and lower respiratory tract infections. In some cases, they complain of severe chest pain. We are usually unable to deal with the more extreme of these cases, so many are referred to Mama Lucy Hospital, Mbagathi District Hospital, and Kenyatta National Hospital.”
Speaking further, he said, “Currently we have about 60 asthmatic patients monthly at our TB clinic.”
“For us to guarantee these young ones a brighter future, we need to seriously look at how to mitigate this air pollution.”
Measures taken and what more can be done.
In partnership with Code for Africa, the Star set up air quality sensors in the Kwa Reuben village. This was done to measure the quality of the air residents were being exposed to.
The readings showed that the residents' were right in their claims that the factories regularly release emissions between 2 pm and 6 pm. Those living around the sensor at Reuben FM were seeing Particulate Matter (PM) 10 values higher than the WHO-recommended levels over a 24-hour period, four days of the week.
Evans Nangulu, an environment expert at the National clean air production, said following latest assessments of the Bhachu factory, they had directed the company to raise its chimneys from 20m to at least 50m to increase the dispersion rate of the waste gases.
There were other recommendations like installing fabric filters to reduce the emission of fine dust particles, using electrostatic precipitators that can tremendously minimise the emissions of sulphur and nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide.
Nangulu bemoaned the failure to enforce these regulations. He urged factories to adopt modern technologies to help them manage their emissions.
Source: The Star