FALLEN, no more to rise, sums up Harare’s garbage situation.
Once called the Sunshine City, Harare is now a pale shadow of its former self, as it now sits on huge piles of rubbish and streams of raw sewage.
It is undoubtedly clear that the city is sitting on a health time bomb.
That cases of cholera, typhoid and other waterborne diseases have not been reported this far, is actually a miracle that even health authorities cannot explain.
For a long time now, the city has endured mediocre service from local authorities and there seems to be no end in sight and those in power have turned a blind eye on the situation.
While city authorities admitted to the rot, they blamed the situation on resource shortages, including refuse trucks, to deal with the challenges that have hit several residential areas.
Harare City Council principal communications manager Innocent Ruwende, pictured, also attributed part of the situation to residents’ failure to pay their bills, saying the local authority was owed over $17 billion in service charges.
Ruwende added that some residents are contributing to huge piles of garbage through dumping and that the city has now come up with a strategy in waste disposal.
“Council is currently facing challenges and drawbacks with its current method and model of waste management that is the linear model. This coupled with the culture of people who throw rubbish anywhere without thinking about the consequences of their actions have seen garbage dumps accumulating in the city. The garbage, with rains, is then washed into our water bodies and consequently pose treatment challenges,” he said.
Ruwende said the population growth in the city had also resulted in garbage everywhere.
“Residents believe that there are others who will clean up after them and consequently, the responsibility of cleaning up litter falls on the council which does not have enough resources to deal with the litter problem. The city does not have enough refuse trucks to service the city efficiently using its current model.
“Settlement patterns in the residential areas have also changed over the years with a housing unit now accommodating more than two families, meaning more waste is generated,” he said.
Ruwende said the city was doing its part in fighting the garbage problem in the capital, including changing from linear to the efficient integrated solid waste management model and procurement of compatible machinery and the setting up of waste transfer stations at an average 5km-radius in suburbs.
“The integrated solid waste management model comprises of a set of waste treatment methods and strategies whose main objective is to prevent, or reduce as much as possible, the generation of solid waste, to divert as much waste as possible from landfilling and increase both waste collection rates as well as spatial coverage in terms of waste collection,” he said.
As the situation continues affecting the environment, some sections of the society have taken matters into their own hands to ensure they clean their environment.
In Mbare, one of the most affected areas, a group under the banner of Mbare Cousins Community Trust have resorted to projects aimed at ridding the neighbourhood of garbage.
They told the Daily News on Sunday that garbage had become a threat to many lives, putting people at risk of diseases such as cholera and typhoid and have taken a proactive approach, hiring graders and trucks to clear rubbish in the Mbare flats.
They said uncollected rubbish had created breeding places for rodents, flies and mosquitos which have become a menace to people living in the flats.
The Trust’s chairperson, Simbarashe Chanachimwe, said they had partnered several stakeholders in pulling resources to hire tippers and front-end loaders which took turns in clearing the rubbish that had become an eyesore in the neighbourhood, consuming the child play centre in the flats and making a borehole inaccessible.
“We have taken the initiative as residents to be proactive in creating the environment we want. There is no one who will do it for us and it is us who are exposed to the garbage which has become breeding spaces for mosquitos and flies and resultantly diseases such as cholera and typhoid,” Chanachimwe told the Daily News on Sunday.