Garbage hindering preservation of World war memorial sites in Mombasa

The garbage site near the Commonwealth Mbaraki war graves PHOTO COURTESY

Mombasa,KENYA:The United Nations general assembly  in 2004 declared 8th and 9th May every year as the  time of remembrance and reconciliation for those who lost their lives during the second world war.

Statistics approximate that close to 60 million lives were lost  worldwide in the war that lasted from 1939 to 1945.

Mombasa plays an important role in the war history  as nearly 1000 East African troops died on Saturday 12 February 1944 in the Indian ocean; after the vessel they were sailing in the SS Khedive Ishmail was hit by a Japanese submarine just a week after leaving the port of Mombasa.

Several historical sites have been set aside in remembrance of the victims who died in the war which include the Commonwealth Mbaraki cemetery ,the Majimbo cemetery and the Mombasa African memorial park  in Mwembe Tayari.

However experts now say the uncollected garbage is hindering the preservation of those sites in Mombasa.

At the Commonwealth Mbaraki war graves in Mbaraki area which has over 225 war graves; both from World War I and II casualties, I meet Michael Mbua Kilambi the head supervisor of the Common wealth War Graves in Mombasa.

Kilambi explains that their efforts to preserve the sites are hindered by garbage in those areas pointing at dumping site across the road.

“Sometimes when its windy that garbage is blown here and it looks messy.”Kilambi explains.

On the other side of the city lies the Mombasa African Memorial which is a park set aside to remember native soldiers who died in World War 1 and just like the Mbaraki commonwealth war graves opposite the park lies a dumping site.

Kilambi explains they face the same challenge as in the Mbaraki commonwealth war cemetery. Kilambi further explains that efforts to talk to the county government in regards to the issue have not borne any fruit.

The Commonwealth war graves Mbaraki cementary photo by CWGC
The Commonwealth war graves Mbaraki cemetery photo by CWGC

“We have tried to get them to relocate the dumpsite but so far nothing has been done.”Kilambi explains.

However in September 2016 the Mombasa county Environment executive Tendai Mtana revealed that the county government was in the process of registering youth groups to be in charge of collecting garbage from the 1500 neighborhoods in Mombasa.

The memorial sites in Mombasa are managed by the commonwealth war graves commission which operates in 23,000 locations in more than 150 countries.

A memorial service in remembrance of the 1.7 million servicemen who died in both wars is held by the commission every November.