BY POTIPHER TEMBO –
SWARMS of flies are buzzing incessantly and myriads of maggots are crawling continually on uncollected garbage which has accumulated at markets in townships.
Nearby, some marketeers are selling their merchandise while some guzzlers are enjoying their Chibuku Shake-Shake and Kantobo beer (bottled opaque beer) at a nearby makeshift tavern where some michopo (goat meat) is being roasted as business goes on as usual.
For some time now, the challenge of garbage collection in many parts of the country has been a problem that many local authorities have been grappling with.
The piling up of garbage especially in urban dwellings, has been an eyesore.
Zambia has in the past years been campaigning about keeping the country clean and this is the initiative the councils have been working on.
But despite all the efforts being applied to ensure that a high standard of hygiene prevailed, garbage heaps in big towns such as Lusaka, Ndola and Kitwe have become common sites in residential areas and worse at market places.
Almost every day you hear residents in Chilenje and Kabwata in Lusaka calling on the Lusaka City Council (LCC) to collect garbage behind markets for fear that diarrhea disease may break–out and also the menace caused by breeding flies.
In Ndola, residents in Masala and Kabushi townships have appealed to Ndola City Council (NCC) to get rid of mounds of fermenting rubbish which are piled up at markets and road sides. These sights have been worsened with the onset of the rainy season.
The story is the same in Kitwe, Mufulira, Chingola, Livingstone, Choma and everywhere where residents have been urging their councils to remove the rubbish accruing at markets and backyards.
The problem of garbage piling up and not being collected has become a big task especially in recent years when street vending in towns has become uncontrollable with markets mushrooming everywhere almost at will.
In all the residential areas affected by the challenge of uncollected garbage, residents from time to time lament that there was an urgent need to collect garbage saying that if not collected, the rubbish could be a source of diarrhoeal outbreaks.
The residents have complained that the uncollected garbage was posing a health hazard especially to children who sometimes play near the heaps.
As the problem of garbage was getting rooted, residents have called on their local authorities to find lasting solutions to the scourge and appealed to them to stop traders, especially street vendors, from selling their merchandise outside their premises.
However, the councils have not relaxed although they have been faced with a challenge of garbage collecting since they are the ones vested with the responsibility to provide this service to the public.
Because of the mammoth challenge of garbage collection, the LCC in July 2011 allocated about K600, 000 towards the collection of rubble in the city.
Former LCC public relations manager, Henry Kapata said the council had hired six tipper trucks for the purpose of collecting waste in the city.
Mr Kapata emphasised on the need for Lusaka residents to subscribe to the council’s solid waste collection programme.
“We are spending about K8, 000 on a daily basis on the hired tipper trucks and the only challenge we are facing as a council is the lack of cooperation from members of public,” said Mr Kapata.
He said all residents need to help the council by subscribing to the waste collection programme in order for the local authority to serve the public better.
To help the LCC achieve its objective of garbage collection, the Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZABS) put up rubbish bins along Freedom Way for use by the public.
Lusaka residents were happy with the move made by ZABS and commended them for this, saying that placing the rubbish bins at the ZABS office was a good initiative considering that they were located near a bus station.
Similarly, the NCC in July last year put up 25 garbage bins in the central business district to improve cleanliness.
Public relations officer, Louise Thole said the 25 bins were placed on Chisokone Avenue, which was the most congested area in the city and that is where street vending activities were rife.
Ms Thole said the Council would be collecting garbage from bus stations and markets only.
“We want to promote sanity in these congested areas. Our officers will be emptying the bins twice daily,” said Ms Thole.
She said people conducting business in the central business district will be required to have their own bins.
Recently, NCC public relations manager, Roy Kuseka said the local authority had engaged nine local garbage collectors for the task of garbage collection whom he said would be monitored by the Council.
Mr Kuseka said the concept of engaging the contractors came because of challenges the local authoiry was facing in keeping Ndola clean.
He said the move was started by zoning the areas where the contractors would be collecting garbage and that in total there were eight zones.
Mr Kuseka hinted that the Council had ear-marked three months to sensitise residents about the importance of subscribing to garbage collection and the actual work started in June last year though some contractors had raised concerns about how tenders were done.
“We started recording progress and residents started paying garbage collection fees. We were left with the markets and business centres,” said Mr Kuseka.
He said it was important to note that anyone who generates waste should be part of the clearing process and it was for this reason that residents should be involved by making them pay a minimal fee.
“But some people in some residential areas don’t want to work together. What we are asking for is not much. We should move away from thinking that the council, the government will do everything for us.”
“Though it is stipulated in the by laws that it is our duty, we need help from residents in one way or another. Ndola is expanding and more areas require attention. People should come on board and help out,” urged Mr Kuseka.
He named the garbage collectors in zones as Catrone Enterprise, Clean Tech Services, Rounale General Cleaners, Lukayi Company, Cop Waste, Rojo Environmental Management Services, Citimop Limited and Kathumba Innovations which would cover most parts of Ndola residential areas.
Mr Kuseka, however, pointed out that in the 1970s when the population was small, NCC had a lot of garbage collecting trucks but the situation was no longer the same as the number of trucks has reduced and the population has expanded over the years.
What was prevailing in recent times was for residents to dig garbage pits – known as ifishala in local language at their back-yards – an idea that was not welcome.
A snap survey in some residential areas in Ndola revealed that some people were happy with the idea of engaging contractors to collect rubbish in residential areas. They said the idea was good and needed to be supported by paying garbage collecting fees.
A Pamodzi resident, Anevia Nachana Mwansa said the move was good and that it would help in reducing diseases such as cholera.
But some residents were not aware of the exercise though they thought the idea was good.
“I don’t know about that, but if it is there, it is good and I am ready to subscribe to it,” said John Phiri of Chifubu Township.
In March last year, Councils countrywide were given a three-month ultimatum in which to improve waste management.
Local Government and Housing Minister, Emerine Kabanshi warned all local authorities that sanctions would be applied if the ultimatum was not met.
She said this when she handed over 250 wheel bins worth K150, 000 to LCC.
Ms Kabanshi said poor waste management was a serious problem countrywide, especially in Lusaka.
“I am therefore expecting all local authorities in Zambia to work according to the expectations of the Central Government by being pro-active,” she said.
Ms Kabanshi said poor management of domestic waste in townships was hazardous due to failure by residents to pay for management services and she called on councils to sensitise the residents to pay for waste collection failure to which they would be punished.
The keep Zambia clean did not only mean garbage collection alone, but even maintaining the surroundings at homes and other premises.
In 2012, Minister of Local Government, Housing, Early Child Education and Environmental Protection, Nkandu Luo, said the Government would embark on an inspection campaign of townships to ensure and promote clean surroundings in Zambia.
She urged citizens to have their minds set on maintaining clean surroundings by being focused and re-aligning their thoughts on promoting clean environments which she described as poor.
“Activities on early education should be appreciated and children who are important individuals in our lives can be of help in popularising messages on clean environment because they take seriously what is taught to them,” said Prof Luo.
Truly, residents need to help councils to clear garbage through paying garbage collection fees and also maintaining their surroundings to ensure cleanliness which indeed is second to Godliness.