Residents in Nairobi might be forced to travel at least 15 kilometres outside the county to bury their loved ones.
Though the Nairobi Metropolitan Services and the Kenya Forest Service are still negotiating on acquiring new cemetery land next to Langata, authorities are considering shifting the public graveyard to Kangundo.
Lang’ata’s 100 acres has been full for 20 years and for years City Hall has been seeking an alternative burial site.
Despite negotiations still being underway, NMS director general Mohammed Badi disclosed the county has 10 acres along Kangundo Road that could be an alternative.
“If KFS doesn’t come on board, we have land available, land under our control,” he said.
“We have a standby area towards Kangundo Road that is over 10 acres. So If we decided to utilise the land, people will be forced to travel 15km outside Nairobi,” he explained.
Badi said they had not settled on that 10 acres as it would be an extra burden for those intending to bury their loved ones on county land.
He explained the biggest challenge with KFS is they don’t want to decrease their tree coverage and green spaces in Nairobi.
“KFS hasan obligation with the United Nations to keep Kenya’s tree coverage at a certain percentage. So ongoing negotiations are about how NMS can cover the land in terms of planting trees before we exchange that land,” Badi said.
He said it would be very difficult to convince KFS to swap land as they don’t negotiate on issues involving trees that have to be cut.
KFS has a target of 10 per cent forest coverage in the country by 2022.
In 2019, KFS laid out a strategy to increase forest cover from the current 7.2 per cent to 10 per cent by 2022. That goal will cost Sh48 billion.
Kenya needs to plant and nurture 1.8 billion seedlings between now and 2022 to achieve 10 per cent tree cover.
The NMS boss said there is still a small amount of space in Lang’ata Cemetery and that is why negotiations started early this year before it’s full.
Lang’ata consists of Christian and Muslim cemeteries, and a crematorium.
In October last year, NMS revealed plans to purchase land in Mugumuini ward, Lang’ata subcounty.
The disclosure is a response by Badi to queries from the National Assembly’s Health committee.
Plans to look for new cemetery land started In 2009 when the old Nairobi City Council lost Sh283 million in a 48.5-acre cemetery deal in Mavoko. The actual value of the property was Sh24 million.
Senior officers, including former Local Government Permanent Secretary Sammy Kirui and former Town Clerk John Gakuo, were implicated and suspended.
Kirui and Gakuo were jailed for three years and fined Sh1 million each for their role in the cemetery land scandal.
Gakuo died on October 30, 2018, at Mbagathi Hospital where he had been admitted under tight security.
Kenya has 18 cremation centres, mainly used by people of Asian origin. The best known in Nairobi are Lang’ata, Hindu and Kariokor crematoriums.
In 2019, City Hall said Nairobi residents with no rural homes may be forced to cremate their loved ones since Lang’ata Cemetery was full and the county was yet to acquire land for a new one.
Permanent graves for adults at Lang’ata cost Sh30,000 for adults, Sh4,000 for children and Sh2,000 for infants. Non-city residents pay Sh40,000.
via The Star
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