Kenyan Market Cleanup Kills 6,000 Rats
By RODRIQUE NGOWI
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) - Workers at Kenya's main fresh food market killed some 6,000 rats and trucked away 800 tons of garbage in the first major cleanup in 30 years, an official said Tuesday.
The Wakulima Market, which supplies fresh food to most of Nairobi's 3 million residents, was a public health hazard, with garbage piling up 7 feet deep in some places, said Local Government Minister Musikari Kombo.
``Was I shocked? I was traumatized by the rot,'' Kombo told The Associated Press. ``We were lucky to be spared a major outbreak of disease.''
City council workers used 42,269 gallons of water in the cleanup operation, Kombo said, adding that some traders who operated at the market for years were surprised to see that a tarmac existed below the garbage.
Kenya's oldest independent newspaper, The Standard, described it on Tuesday as ``easily one of the dirtiest markets in the world.''
Kombo, who ordered the closure of the market for cleaning last week, said 270 workers were involved in the operation. Hundreds of traders had marched to his office Monday to protest against the closure.
News on the extent of the filth at the market sparked public calls for members of the City Council of Nairobi to resign.
``It is singularly disheartening that the biggest retail market in the country could suffer from the kind of neglect that has recently been exposed at Wakulima,'' the newspaper said in an editorial. ``If there was a good reason for the mayor and the entire council to resign, this is it.''
The city council has been under scrutiny after an investigation presented last August found endemic corruption, fraud, embezzlement, misuse and waste of resources and outright abuse of office.
``The rats and the filth at the market reflect the rot of mismanagement within the city council,'' said Minister of State for Public Service William Ole Ntimama, who once held a Cabinet position that supervised the council.