KENYA: Joseph Maina: "For every 30kg of waste, they pay me 50 shillings"

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Joseph Maina rummages through waste at Boma, the nickname for the Dandora municipal dumpsite in the eastern part of Nairobi. He is looking for bottles, plastic containers, anything that shop owners and local companies will buy for recycling. He talked to IRIN about eking a living out of the 12 hectare rubbish site.

"I came here in 1996 after I stopped going to school because there was no money.

"I come here every day early in the morning. We remove the garbage from the trucks, and then I sort it out and take whatever I need. We are usually given 50 shillings [about 60 US cents] by the truckers to unload the waste.

"I then collect broken bottles and put them in sacks for sale to the brokers. For every 30kg of waste, they pay me 50 shillings.
"That is too little because they [the brokers] will resell the bottles for much more to the big industries.
"Here we are all equal, it’s first come, first served. There is no tribalism. Last year when people were fighting, life at the site went on as usual.
"If you try to cause chaos here you will be beaten and taken to the police.
"Now the government wants to move the site elsewhere and put up a recycling plant. Why can’t they do it here and hire us instead?

"I get everything from Boma."