REVELATIONS that the City of Harare has only six functional refuse collection trucks have laid bare the dire situation the capital city’s local authority finds itself in and the reason why the municipality cannot provide a regular and efficient garbage collection service to the majority of its residents including those who religiously pay their rates and service charges.
Harare has a total of 46 wards and to imagine only six trucks are available to cover the nearly four dozen wards leaves one bewildered. This is supposed to be the capital city, Zimbabwe’s window into every other local authority in the country. No wonder why residents from most suburbs have been complaining about erratic or even non-existent refuse collection.
The incapacitation in terms of equipment has led to increased illegal dumping on open spaces, wanton burning of waste causing harm to residents with respiratory conditions not to mention the toxic fumes that even those without respiratory conditions are inhaling from the burning waste and might end with health issues of their own. The municipality must at least make our city, Harare, a habitable place and the perennial whining about this and that not being in order is now a tiresome excuse.
The city must be run as a business otherwise those at the helm of the local authority at Town House have no reason to be occupying those lofty positions. The refuse collection trucks crisis has forced the municipality to abandon its normal refuse collection schedule and come up with its so-called refuse collection blitz in which it deploys all six available compactors to each ward or district on a given day. This explains why some wards are going for as long as five weeks without refuse collection because there is no way the six trucks can cover all the suburbs in a ward or district.
In addition, the waste collectors just speed past streets leaving garbage at most households. There are also accusations that they sometimes collect from a few properties where the owners offer them food or cash and leave those who don’t have something to donate to them. The worst case was in Greendale this week when a refuse truck was spotted collecting trimmed tree branches, supposedly for use as firewood, from one of the houses in the suburb while residents on that same street did not have their garbage collected on Monday when the blitz was supposed to cover them. Two months ago in August the extent of the rot at the City of Harare in terms of failure to undertake due diligence on its suppliers was exposed during a parliamentary hearing where it emerged that the municipality lost more than US$1,8 million in two separate deals for refuse trucks.
The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government heard that the supplier Mass Breed Investments, trading as FAW Zimbabwe, failed to deliver 15 of the 30 refuse trucks it was supposed to supply and then supplied single skip bin trucks instead of double skip bin trucks on the other deal. There is also another batch of refuse trucks held at the border because of unpaid customs duty, which are we always told will be arriving soon but appears a long way from finding their way into the not so Sunshine City
There is no better evidence than this to explain the garbage crisis that our capital city finds itself in.