Gioto Dumpsite – Nakuru’s dumping site since 1972

Gioto Dumpsite

Before 1972, Gioto dumpsite was a quarry. After it was abandoned, residents started dumping their waste here and the county council of Nakuru turned it into the official dumping site for Nakuru Town.

Gioto lies in London estate of Nakuru. It is about 3 km from Nakuru town on the way to Kabarak. The name Gioto is a derivative of a Kikuyu word meaning a place where waste is dumped.

Gioto Dumpsite sits on a 50 hectares piece of land. Waste from homes, offices, industries and even hospitals finds its way here. It is estimated that on a daily basis, Gioto Dumpsite receives about 250 tons of waste. Definitely not a small amount.

The dumping site is always a hive of activity, especially during the day. Tractors and trucks constantly drive in and out of the site. Offloading and scavenging are the main events that get carried out at the site.

Over the years, Gioto has been a source of livelihood for many Nakuru residents especially those that live in London and other surrounding estates. The waste collectors have found numerous ways of recycling different types of waste and making an income out of it.

Due to the toxicity of some of the dumped waste, the Gioto Dumpsite has posed health risks to people in past years. Before the ban of the single-use plastic bags, the site was always an eyesore as the plastic waste was always strewn around especially after being blown by the wind. This was one of the reasons environmental activist James Wakibia started his ban plastics campaign.

Bad odours, physical injuries and the risk from respiratory diseases are some of the health hazards posed by that site. There is also the risk of heavy metals dumped that could be carcinogenic.

As the dumpsite lacks a proper drainage system, surrounding communities are during the rainy season at the risk of having the toxic waters flowing into their residences. Being on a raised ground, a lot of contaminated water finds its way into Lake Nakuru and Ndarugu river.

Ban Plastics czar James Wakibia calls it a day

Since 2013, one James Wakibia has been lobbying for banning the of plastic bags. Today 28th August 2017, as the Kenyan Government officially enforces the ban, Wakibia sees it as the best day to also officially close his four-year campaign.

“Today I officially close the #BanPlasticsKE and #IsupportBanPlasticsKE online and on the streets campaigns since the government of Kenya has successfully banned the manufacture, importation and use of single use plastic bags,” says an elated Wakibia.

“However, I am a bit disappointed though that plastic bags used for primary packaging have been exempted while truly there is availability of eco-friendly alternatives,” adds Wakibia expressing his disappointment that primary packaging plastic bags have been exempted from the ban.

He urges that in future, the government through the ministry of Environment, National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) and all stakeholders should completely phase out all plastic bags, disposable plastic utensils and straws that have been exempted in this Ban.

“Let’s completely keep our environment free from these dangerous non-biodegradable items that are destroying our environment,” urges Wakibia.

The journey, however, has not been easy for Wakibia. He has been mocked and discouraged but he stood strong and he especially thanks to his friends who have stood with him in the challenging endeavour.

Hellen Mwanzia
Nakuru model Hellen Mwanzia showing her support for the plastic ban in 2016

“I take this opportunity to give a special thanks to my wife Isa Wangari for motivating me to move on despite sometimes spending countless hours on the computer, thanks for supporting me,” says James Wakibia who admits to sometimes spending endless hours overnight on the computer researching and running online campaigns.

“I also take this time to give special thanks to a team that worked with me tirelessly online and on the ground in the streets of Nakuru to ensure that everybody all over Kenya learned about the campaign. Thanks also to all that made themselves available for #IsupportBanPlasticsKe Photo projects,” said Wakibia.

The campaign would not have been a success without journalists who gave him coverage thus publicising his efforts as he set out to show the negative effects of the plastics. Wakibia who is a trained journalist himself sends his heartfelt gratitude to all the local and international Journalists and bloggers who highlighted his work and who continually reported about the environment.

“Much thanks too to all Environmental and human right activists who invited me to share about my campaigns, I say THANK YOU,” says a humble James Wakibia.

“Last and not least I would never forget to thank my graphic designer Edd Mayaka who did all #BanPlasticsKE and #IsupportBanPlasticsKE campaign graphics for free whenever I requested, God bless you,” closes Wakibia who is a professional photographer.

James Wakibia – Photography, Activism and love for Envioroment

Wakibia describes himself as an activist who uses photography to pass his message. He fell in love with photography from an early age when he was around 11 years old when his dad brought home a Yashica camera while he was in class six.
The first camera he bought was a Kodak KB10 while a student at Jomo Kenyatta High school in Bahati. He used to do photography for fun and didn’t charge for most of his photos he took of his fellow students.
The love for photography has remained with him up to date where he’s a photographer of renown in Nakuru Town.


Education and Early life

Born in Matuiku village in Rongai Ward near Salgaa in Nakuru, Wakibia attended Matuiku primary school before his parents transferred him to Michinda primary where he did his KCPE.

“Life was hard at Michinda and within the first one week, most of my new items including clothes had disappeared and all I had were old ones. The school diet compared to what I was used to back at home was simply terrible but I survived. I think it was here that I started my activism when I was forced by circumstances to defend myself from bullies,” says Wakibia.
Life in high school was no better and Wakibia admits that he was in and out of school most of the time due to lack of school fees. James all the same finished High school and moved to Nairobi to start his work life.
Wakibia is also a trained journalist.
In 2010, he joined Shang Tao School of 3D in Nairobi to study 3D and Film production. He was there for only one year though and dropped out. In 2011 he enrolled at Egerton University to do a degree course in Communication and Media. His main intention in joining Egerton was to study Photography but he says he was disappointed to find it was just a single unit. He, all the same, graduated in 2015 with a BA in Communication and Media.


Work life, photography and activism

James Wakibia first worked at a brokerage firm in Nairobi before joining Tuskys Supermarket. It was while at Tuskys that he bought his camera, a Minolta Zoom. Unfortunately, a friend of his broke it. Not to be deterred, he bought his next camera, a Canon 350D at a cost of Kshs. 40,000.
After Tuskys he moved to Nanyuki town to work in a restaurant. His stay there as an assistant manager in the 3-star hotel was short-lived as the weather forced him to return to Nairobi.
In 2008, he started taking photography seriously. He became an observer taking photos in the streets capturing various activities, events and landmarks. His love for activism and activists developed around this time and it was during this time that he met Boniface Mwangi.
It was during an IDPs protest in Nairobi that Wakibia met Boniface Mwangi the famous photographer cum activist based in Nairobi. Bonny met him and introduced himself and they created a rapport. He used to visit Mwangi’s office at Kenafric Towers and he says his photography benefitted a lot from his friendship with Mwangi.
His acquaintance with Mwangi also made his love for activism increase.


Return to Nakuru

Wakibia returned to Nakuru in 2011 a new person. His experiences in Nairobi and his interaction with Boniface Mwangi had opened a new world to him. Even as he studied at Egerton part-time, he started serious photography and also started his twitter handle @TweetNakuru. He was later to change it to @SteetNakuru through which he intended to do his activism. For his photography promotion, he has a personal twitter handle @JWakibia.
Wakibia is one of the most influential social media personalities in Nakuru and he believes in using social media for social change. His outspoken nature once in a while puts him at loggerheads with the powers that be and he was once blocked from accessing the official Twitter handle account for Nakuru County. He was only unblocked after fellow Nakuru tweeps aggressively ran a hashtag #UnblockStreetNakuru hitting on the County government for blocking one of their own.
To bring the most active and like-minded tweeps together, Wakibia has set up a WhatsApp group called In the Streets of Nakuru where they discuss issues touching in Nakuru.
One day in future, he has dreams of setting up a centre where people can be trained on their rights, democracy, job creation and generally connect.

 Wakibia and Nakuru Politics

Although Wakibia loves Nakuru and its people, he has no kind words for the Nakuru County Government.

“Nakuru County government spends money on wrong things,” Wakibia says unapologetically.
He feels that Nakuru’s is a terrible government that is not even trying to deliver to its people, unlike other counties.
“Nakuru has the potential to become the best county in Kenya. We have resources like fertile lands, world-class tourist sites and people who are willing to work. It’s the government that has let us down,” says Wakibia.
In his opinion, money that the county executive and assembly has spent on both foreign and domestic travels would have made a huge difference in the lives of Nakuru residents.


Personal life

He will be getting married soon and he philosophically says he will marry someone whom he can always love and not someone who will make him a philosopher.
“It was Socrates who said that you are lucky if you marry a good wife, but if you marry a bad wife, you become a philosopher,” he explains.
He is passionate about the rights of children and the environment and is currently running the #ISupportBanPlasticsKE campaign pressuring the government to put in place measures that will limit the use of plastic bags in Kenya.
The people he admires most are Paula Kahumba and John Githongo.


Repaint the Zebra Crossing

Wakibia is not giving up on his push for a better Nakuru. His current project is to push the county government to repaint the pedestrian crossing on Mburu Gichua road and though facing frustrations, he’s determined to see that it’s done either by the government or the citizens take it upon themselves to repaint.

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