Environment & Climate Change

Urban councils letting down trash collectors

Urban council authorities are failing to utilize fully the participation of hordes of garbage collection gangs who throng garbage council dump sites, rummaging through fly infested piles of thrash in search of recyclable material like PET cans, plastic and other trash that can be salvaged for resale to recycling agents or companies mostly in South Africa, where recycling is now an income generating business project.
The growing piles of illegally dumped solid waste near homes and open spaces in urban centres of Zimbabwe provide overwhelming evidence that solid waste management processes are failing to cope up with increasing volumes of solid waste being generated.
Refuse collection efficiency by urban councils has dropped by 80 percent in mid 1990s to as low as 30 percent by 2006. A new breed of garbage scavengers has taken council dump sites by ‘swarm’ as the scavengers are ‘cleaning up’ the ever growing illegal and the poorly managed council dump sites, but the councils are letting down the timely setting in of scavengers, who are practically doing some of the work the councils are supposed to be undertaking. In Kwekwe City, where the council dump site near Amaveni suburb is virtually managed by garbage collection gangs, who work without protective clothing.
“We are working here at the council dumpsite but we don’t have any protective gear, we urge the City of Kwekwe council to take a leaf from other councils in Zimbabwe, who heve developed synergies with garbage collection gangs, in Harare garbage collectors are also allocated housing stands. We have the capacity to sustain ourselves if council develops a working relationship with us. They should not look down upon us. We are a vital cog in solid waste management processes “, lamented a member of Foundation Cooperative.
Amaveni dumpsite is not fenced or protected from members of the public thereby creating a risk for children who wander into the dumpsite from nearby houses.
“Our children wander into the unprotected dumpsite which is too close to our houses. The children sometimes can be seen toying with used syringes, cotton wool, and other ‘trash’ discarded to the dumpsite by clinics, hospitals and other health institutions. Kwekwe City council should erect a protective fence or durawall around the dumpsite”, said Dumisani Kombora, who stays near the dumpsite.
Most dumpsites by urban authorities are not effectively protected. The media has been awash with stories of children who wander around these dumpsites getting burnt and getting their legs and other limbs amputed as a result of unmanned council dumpsites.
Zimbabwe needs proper solid waste management processes and urban councils must step up in their quest to have a clean environment and adjust their working relationships with garbage collection cooperatives, even by engaging garbage collectors and help them link with other recycling agencies. It is high time councils should look on ways of monetizing garbage and create working relationship with trash collectors and kickstart recycling projects that will help councils generate income than depending on crucifying and milking ratepayers as they charge out of this world rates and lev

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