Cleanup of Nairobi rivers uncovers grisly find of 14 bodies

Agence France-Presse
Cleanup of Nairobi rivers uncovers grisly find of 14 bodies


Most of the dead found are babies and children

NAIROBI, Kenya – A major operation to clean up the trash-clogged rivers in the Kenyan capital has led to the grisly discovery of 14 bodies, most of them babies and children, the local government said Friday, May 24.

On Friday, cleanup crews found the body of an 8-year-old boy who had been strangled and dumped near the Nairobi River, just days after the bodies of twin babies were discovered in a plastic bag.

“Nairobi county youth conducting cleaning of Nairobi River have today (Friday) found yet another body of a…boy strangled and dumped near the river,” said county government spokesman Elkana Jacob.

“This makes a total number of 14 bodies of adults and infants retrieved from Nairobi rivers since Governor Mike Sonko launched the cleanup exercise,” he said.

Nairobi’s name comes from a Maasai phrase meaning “place of cool waters,” however the main river and its tributaries have fallen prey to industrialization and chaotic urban planning.

Factories spew industrial waste into the rivers, while dozens of informal settlements with no proper sewage system or trash removal fill them with garbage and human waste.

Sonko announced the latest in a string of cleanup operations over the past two decades in May last year, however it began in earnest in early 2019.

“These numbers of dead bodies retrieved from rivers are worrying. We have called on the police to investigate these cases. Who are the people behind these senseless killings?” Sonko said in a press statement on Saturday, May 25.

“Once we have clean running rivers, no one will dump anything into the waters without being noticed. My teams are working round the clock to ensure we achieve what we have decided to do.”

Aside from 8 infants and the young boy found Friday, the bodies of 5 adults were also found during the operation this year in the Nairobi River, and its tributaries the Ngong River and Mathare River.

Fredrick Okinda, chairman of Komb-Green Solutions which is assisting in the cleanup, blamed illegal clinics performing abortions for some of the bodies found. He said some appeared to be fetuses.

“Some hospitals here are doing abortions to young ladies and they don’t have any place to dump the bodies,” he told Agence France-Presse.

Abortion is illegal in Kenya unless the life of the woman is in danger.

Some of the babies appeared to have been “thrown after being born,” said Okinda. 

His organization had buried some of the babies next to the river.

“We are not surprised because you know this is a slum area…so when we come to the cleanup we were ready to face any challenge as long as we reclaim the lost glory of Nairobi River.” –

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