Kakamega County Governor Fernandes Barasa and his administration faced criticism for publicizing the disposal of 73 tons of toxic food confiscated from Mukumu Girls High School. The food, set to be destroyed in Mombasa County, had been linked to the deaths of four people and the hospitalization of 246 students.
On May 3, 2023, Governor Barasa held a press conference, outlining the plan for the food’s destruction in partnership with a private company. He explained that the contaminated maize and beans would be destroyed in accordance with the established procedures for handling hazardous food waste. This action followed a court order mandating the disposal.
The food was loaded onto trucks and taken to Bamburi Cement in Mombasa County, which offered to handle the destruction as part of its corporate social responsibility. Although the destruction could have taken place in Kisumu County, the local incinerator’s capacity was insufficient to handle the large volume of food. Bamburi Cement, however, could complete the task within one or two days, making it a more cost-effective option.
Despite the seemingly responsible handling of the situation, Governor Barasa faced backlash on Twitter for “flagging off” the toxic food and publicizing the event. Critics questioned the necessity of drawing attention to the disposal and accused the Governor of treating the event as an achievement.
The Mukumu Girls High School tragedy occurred in April 2023 when four people, including the boarding mistress Juliana Mujema, died after consuming contaminated food and water. The school was closed on April 3, 2023, and is scheduled to reopen in stages, beginning with Form Four students on May 2, 2023, and ending with Form One students on May 8, 2023.