The attention of Haki Yetu Organization has been drawn to the public outcry following the decision of the former County government of Mombasa in constructing toilets on a public cemetery as part of corporate social responsibility for the world bank project of upgrading fresh water supply through Mombasa Water Supply and Sanitation Company (MOWASCO).
The said cemetery serves the public in Kongowea, Nyali and other parts of sub-counties within Mombasa and has not only been turned into a dumping site but can longer be used for the intended purpose; to bury the dead. After issuing a seven-day ultimatum to the County Government of Mombasa to desist from constructing toilets on the cemetery, Haki Yetu Organization, the community of Kongowea together with religious institutions condemns in the strongest term the action of the County government of constructing toilets on a public cemetery on the following grounds:
- Disinterment for the purposes of constructing toilets is disrespect to the memory of the dead and their kinsmen. The law protects the sanctity of the buried which is not to be disinterred unless through a court order under extenuating circumstances.
- Construction of toilets for the public as part of corporate social responsibility may appear innocent. Not at all. How does a government plan to construct toilets as part of CSR on a public cemetery knowing its impact, not just to the beloved dead but also to world bank which has standards and policies when implementing their projects.
- The construction site does not have a signage displayed as per the National Construction Authority and Urban Planning requirements.
- For far too long, the former County Government of Mombasa has been implementing projects without involving the public. Such projects are done at the behest of private developers or for international investors without following the due procedure. Simply put, how does a government plan to construct toilets on a public cemetery while having the apparatus to consult the residents of Kongowea? The act of performing goat killing ritual ceremony in the presence of the local administration does not amount to public participation but rubberstamping. Remember, much weight has been placed on public participation because it is the only way to ensure that projects that affect the public are implemented after collecting and channeling views, opinions, comments and feedback of various members and concerned citizens on a specific agenda.
- There is no evidence to show that Environmental Social Impact Assessment Study (ESIA) was conducted. It seems therefore that the CSR exercise is being conducted in violation of the law connoting selfish and partisan interests.
- The sacrilegious dumping of waste at the Kongowea Public Cemetery can neither go uncondemned nor unpunished. Most of the religious institutions and families no longer hold prayers at the cemetery.
- The grave is not secured by a parameter wall and is next to a pathway thus it is likely to continue being used as a dumping site.
In view of the above and in light of the ongoing conversations on the subject, we the undersigned opine that the dead have rights too and these rights are not only secured by the laws of Kenya but also from the holy books.
We thus DEMAND as follows:
- THAT the new leadership of Mombasa County should immediately halt the ongoing construction of the toilets WITHIN SEVEN (7) DAYS..
- THAT the ESIA report and other related documents be produced in line with Article 35 of the Constitution of Kenya in order to facilitate public discourse and engagement.
- THAT the World Bank project must be implemented with transparency, human dignity, inclusivity and accountability as envisioned in Article 10 of the Constitution.
- THAT the heap of garbage dumped at the cemetery should be immediately removed.
- THAT a parameter wall should be erected around the cemetery after the said garbage is removed.
- THAT the County Director of World Bank MUST dissociate himself from the project and halt it immediately.
- THAT the new governor elect of Mombasa address this matter as a matter of urgency and to be his first priority in resolving garbage and environmental issues which appeared in his election manifesto.
We understand too well, that the government may choose deafening silence and do nothing. We thus remind them of its obligation to protect the sovereignty of the people.
Also, since the matter is now with NLC, we are waiting with abated breath further action by the Commission. Lastly, Haki Yetu Organization also calls upon the affected persons and any members of the public with relevant information to share their complaints with us in order to institute a suit should the County Government of Mombasa, World Bank or NLC not halt the process without public input and/or choose not act to our demands.
Dated: 1/9/2022, Mombasa
Munira Ali (Haki Yetu Organisation)
Julius Wanyama (Haki Yetu Organisation)
Human Protection Justice Organization (HPJO)
Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK)