King Faisal Hospital (KFH) is discharging millions of waste in liquid form from its sewage system, littering the entire neighbourhood around the hospital, The Insight can reveal. And, this has gone on for about three years since the septic exploded.
Interestingly, the management of KFH, the Health ministry, the environment authority (REMA) and the Kigali City Council (KCC) are all aware of this menace.
King Faisal Hospital says it informed the health ministry after the sewer failed and started over flooding.
The health ministry commissioned a team to study the case however the details of the report could not be revealed by the State Minister in charge of HIV/Aids and other epidemic disease, Dr. Innocent Nyaruhirira.
He declined to divulge anything saying the report is not public.
The KFH is located about 400m from an artificial lake in the wetland, that was supposed to be a city park; an entertainment facility. It is located on the peak of the hill of the area
Alexander Mutatina, the estate engineer at the hospital says the study (report) describes how the system erupted, how much waste is discharged, the impact on the environment and people but he refused to give details claiming the contracted firm has only given the report to the Health ministry.
He instead only gave a copy of a report that was done by Water Laboratory of the National University of Rwanda which does not give much detail.
A number of contractors have been contacted to carryout studies but none was seen reliable and capable until recently, when a South African company already doing business was contacted.
When Insight visited the site; they only found a dangerous flow of waste through a road in the neighbourhood including the nearby wetland.
The over flooding of the untreated waste is caused by the mechanical failure of the current equipment and the recent rains.
Mutatina, says when the equipment was installed in 1996; it had capacity to handle a volume of close to 170m3 of waste.
But since then, the number of patients has dramatically increased and that means the volume of waste increased accordingly.
The Director General of KFH, John Stevens says the sewage system burst in 2006 and the waste started flowing down the wetland.
And since the equipment started flooding, all the waste that keeps flowing is untreated.
Dr. Innocent Nyaruhirira says the hospital was built to handle 170 patients but the number has now risen to about 250 per day.
In the first place, the minister said, while the hospital was built, no people were expected to live in the area and no any businesses were expected.
Because the ministry was pressurized by the urgency of the problem the ministry commissioned a team to conduct a study and provide a report.
After feasibility studies to asses the sewage problem at the hospital was conducted, the ministry of Health, Infrastructure and Finance decided that the sewage system be incorporated with other projects in the infrastructure ministry.
Waste into the wetland
The system over flooded and now allows a continuous flow of untreated sewage into the wetland on a daily basis.
Storm-water also flows in and increases the momentum and the capacity of the discharged waste flows down the wetland during periods of rain.
A technician, who talked on condition on anonymity, said an estimated 10 litres of the waste flows per second.
This means there is more than 316 million of waste (about 86 million gallons) of untreated waste water flowing down the wetland every year if everything remains constant.
According to Minister Nyaruhirira, exposure to contaminants commonly found in sewage generally cause illness.
He said the untreated sewage contains bacteria and parasites.
Some of this waste according to research contains bacteria like Salmonella and parasites such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium that are capable of causing diseases like diarrhoea.
Research says sewage may also contain toxic chemicals because waste set free in sewage systems is unlimited.
The business was hampered because REMA says no one can swim or drink the water from that lake.
Later, the flowing waste was even directed into an active golf course a few meters from the lake.
The smell remains at large and is making the population uncomfortable all time.
Surprisingly, people have managed to live in such an environment.
One of the residents requested for anonymity too said, “We have no alternative because that is what our health ministry wants us to live in.”
The neighbourhood is completely endangered and complaints were forwarded to the management of the hospital.
Director Stevens says he has talked to the population around, explaining that the sewer will be fixed soon.
“I have been in touch with the people around and they are patient enough.”
The solution KFH has is to install new equipment or replace the existing with another sewage system.
Why is it delaying?
The infrastructure ministry took the responsibility to handle the installation of a new sewage system or replace the current one with new equipment that can be easily expanded in case the hospital waste volume increases.
This was after the hospital could not afford the technical side of running the project.
KFH calculated the establishment of the facility but its budget was not enough to handle it.
The health ministry had to come in and the decision was to combine the KFH sewage with the Kigali City project of working on city sewage systems.
This decision ignored the urgency of installing the KFH facility. A few months later, KFH was pressurized by residents’ complaints because the waste discharge increases daily.
“We have the money, the only problem is lack of expertise,” minister Nyaruhirira says.
The ministry of infrastructure will handle the technical and financial part of it.
He says he is concerned with the public health.
“These waters have parasites and it is not only the site at King Faisal Hospital but the entire sewage system of the city is not well planned,” he said.
He however admitted the urgency of installing the plant at the hospital despite encountering lack of expertise to do the job.
“We tried many firms but all were not reliable and did not meet the standard,” he says.
The ministry ended up contracting the one that is already doing the same business.
It will cost between Frw160-200m. “We rather spend much but get a modern facility,” the minister said.
The Minister says the system would be already in place but he piles the blame on lack of expertise and reliable contractors adding that there is enough money.
But the promoter of the entertainment park, City Park, Eugen Nyagahene says he discussed with them to install one system that would cost Frw100m and would treat the water that could even be used but they refused.
The minister says it was expensive. At the same time he says they would rather spend millions of money but have a better facility.
The minister however said the tendering process was messy and the National Tender Board did not trust the company.
The site engineer at KFH, Mutatina, instead gave a different name of a Kenyan contractor as Ken Luxury, and he says shipping of the facility for installation is underway.
But the one in charge of this project in the infrastructure ministry says nothing has been done other than just doing the study.
“They haven’t started yet,” he said.
The Insight reporter visited REMA’s office for details of the environmental impact but no one was willing to provide the much needed information.
Efforts to get a comment from the Director General of REMA, Rose Mukankomeje were futile as she could not pick her phone.