In a dramatic turn of events, nearly 800 bags of contaminated cereals from Mukumu Girls’ High School in Kakamega County were incinerated at the Bamburi Cement kiln in Mombasa County. The school, which had been plagued by a lethal disease outbreak claiming the lives of three students and a teacher, has since canceled all food supplier contracts in anticipation of its reopening on Monday.
The school was temporarily shuttered on April 16th, after which the Ministry of Education replaced principal Fridah Ndolo with Sr. Jane Mmbone, previously of Shikoti Girls’ Secondary School, and disbanded the board of management. A meeting at the school on April 29th unraveled into chaos, with police officers called in to quell a protest by parents demanding the destruction of suspected contaminated maize.
The incinerated cereals included 444 bags of maize, 253 bags of beans, and 83 bags of rice, all transported to Mombasa for disposal in accordance with the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) guidelines. The government had previously struggled to find a suitable kiln in the Western and Nairobi regions.
John Maniafu, NEMA’s Kakamega environment director, stated that the cereals were deemed unfit for consumption and confiscated by the public health department. Although stakeholders in Kakamega requested local incineration, waste management regulations under the Environment and Coordination Act mandated otherwise.
Maniafu elaborated on the incineration process, explaining that the kilns at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) in Kisumu and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret were insufficient for the task. The Bamburi Cement kiln in Mombasa was ultimately chosen due to its higher capacity and willingness to perform the incineration as a corporate social responsibility initiative.
Kakamega Deputy County Commissioner Franklin Ongori stressed that the incineration was necessary to restore the confidence of parents and the community at large. A team of parents, teachers, and media representatives, accompanied by armed security officers, witnessed the operation.
Fredrick Odera, Mukumu Girls’ deputy principal in charge of academics, confirmed the school’s readiness to reopen next week, having complied with all Health Ministry protocols. “We canceled the tenders of all food suppliers and now have new ones. We have also disinfected our stores and repainted them, in readiness for the resumption of learning next week,” said Odera.