By Dumisani Nyoni
Bulawayo, March 15, 2016 – City authorities have partnered the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) to fight rampant dumping of waste by city residents in undesignated areas.
The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) declared that by end of this month, there will be no more illegal dumping of waste in a city widely regarded as the cleanest in the country.
EMA is conducting awareness campaigns and media tours of the city’s suburbs which are meant to warn residents about the consequences of littering.
On Thursday last week, EMA and BCC officials held a joint media tour to warn residents about the consequences of littering.
Ndlovu vowed that by end of this month, there would be no illegal waste dumping in the city.
“That’s our aim. We are working tirelessly with residents and BCC authorities to fight against illegal waste dumping,” Ndlovu said.
He said last year, they worked hard with the residents of Entumbane, Sizinda, Makokoba and Nkulumane and the situation was better now.
“Only Makokoba is left and we appeal to people from Makokoba to take note of illegal dumping sites as the suburb is now the worst in Bulawayo,” he said.
“We will start moving during the night to catch those who dump waste illegally.”
According to EMA, fines for littering up to level 3 is $20 while level 14 which is illegal dumping is $5 000 or imprisonment.
The authority said it is also using other community members as surveillance to guard against illegal waste dumping and those caught are fined and made to clean up their mess.
Ndlovu said last year they fined more than 50 residents of Entumbane found dumping waste at undesignated sites.
He said the next message now for those caught polluting the environment was that they will charge them, order them to clean their mess and have their names including house numbers published in newspapers.
He said the laws of EMA are that “no one should be found dumping, discarding or leaving litter on any land or water surface, street, road or site in or at any place except in a container provided or set apart for such purposes”.
On the other hand, BCC is improving ways of refuse collection in all of its suburbs.
Last year, the local authority pioneered the use of community trucks in collecting refuse at Emganwini, a high density suburb that is furthest from the municipal land fill site.
The Community Refuse Removal Pilot Project, according to BCC senior public relations officer Nesisa Mpofu, was meant to see how refuse removal frequency could be improved without necessarily increasing the number of refuse compactors and staff.
In this project, the residents are required to store refuse in plastic bags and owners of trucks with a capacity of 3 tonne to 7 tonne are contracted to collect refuse from door to door.
The truck owners provide their own loaders to collect refuse and once the truck is full it goes to offload refuse onto a waiting council truck which will then go to offload at the Richmond Sanitary Landfill.
According to Mpofu, the project has since been rolled out to Nketa, Nkulumane and Pumula South, and has brought a number of benefits to the council and residents.
“The refuse removal schedule has been improved from fortnightly to weekly in the project areas and this has greatly reduced the number of illegal dumps in those areas,” Mpofu said.
“The suburbs are considerably cleaner than they were before the project. In addition to household waste, the truckers also collect sweepings placed at the roadside by community street sweeping groups and this has also contributed to the cleanliness of the suburbs. This has resulted in saving council the expense of additional sweepings collection compactors.”
The project has reduced the number of refuse compactors and loaders needed to service the city, for instance, Nkulumane suburb with more than 14 000 properties was divided into 7 sections which were being done over six days.
“In the pilot project, the whole of Nkulumane suburb is now being done in just a single day using two refuse compactors, two haulage overseers and two labourers,” she said.
“This project has reduced the number of compactors required to provide a weekly service in high density suburbs from 10 to 4 and the number of labourers from 40 to 4.”
Mpofu said vehicle costs were also expected to go down as council vehicles no longer have to manoeuvre the narrow and sharp turns within the high density suburbs.
“This will reduce wearing of tyres, brakes, clutch and fuel consumption,” she said.
She said all areas in the City of Bulawayo will be enjoying weekly refuse collection beginning of May this year using this project.
Currently, BCC has 24 compactors and more than 457 bins out 600 required.
There has been alarming mushrooming of illegal waste dumps and an increase in the illegal burning of rubbish in Bulawayo’s residential areas.
According to environment experts, illegal waste dumps are a major concern because they pose significant threats to public health in the long run, especially because they are in residential areas.
As these waste dumps decompose, they release hazardous substances and heavy metals that contaminate the soil and groundwater while non-biodegradable materials like plastics also leach out into the soil and water.
Heavy metal poisoning may cause various health problems ranging from cancer to mental retardation in children.
During the rainy season, runoff water also picks up material from the illegal waste dumps resulting in clogging of the drainage systems.
Environment minister, Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri recently gave kaylite importers, manufacturers as well as users a six months period to phase them out arguing they were an eyesore to the environment.
She also gave the telecoms sector a six month period for them to migrate to pin-less recharge methodologies instead of scratch cards as scratch cards were also adding into waste.