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Bulawayo residents demand refuse fee removed from their rates

by Yoliswa Dube-Moyo
30 Jan 2021 at 05:55hrs | Views
side from the Covid-19-induced lockdown restrictions where many of us had to adjust to working from home among many other things, 2020 was a burdensome year because of the Bulawayo City Council's failure to deliver on its mandate.

What started off as a 72-hour water shedding schedule due to diminishing dam levels degenerated into a 144-hour water shedding programme, then weeks and eventually months without the precious liquid for residents in many suburbs across the city.

 Where I live, the taps ran dry for longer than the BCC gazetted they would. When water did flow through the taps, the pressure was so low it was as good as not having running water at all. We had to fill up containers, the bath tub, pots anything that could store clean water for household use.

But with a baby in the house and hygiene standards to maintain, the water in storage was never enough. We often ran out and had to go "begging" for water. One of our gracious neighbours however, invited us to fetch water from their borehole whenever the need arose, but it eventually felt arduous knocking by their gate every other day.

Another neighbour who had access to clean running water was where we turned to on some days, but not before receiving comments like "why don't you buy bigger containers" or "have you seen the exorbitant council bills of late".

Well, if I had the money I wouldn't be bothering anyone, I often thought.

We were starting to feel like a burden and preferred to drive some 15km to access the borehole water at my mother's house every Thursday. I'd use the opportunity to do the week's laundry and fetch water for the next couple of days' use.

But this was not sustainable. It was tiring, time consuming and cost ineffective. The only lasting solution was to invest in a 5 000litre tank as the water problem was clearly not going away anytime soon. Just when we thought the water problem was dealt with, then came the council's failure to collect refuse.

Every Friday, a black bin liner filled with garbage went outside the gate for the refuse trucks to collect. But at the end of the day, the black bag would still be by the gate. Refuse would then only be collected fortnightly, but this later changed to no collection at all. And now, months have gone by with no sign of refuse trucks collecting waste in my neighbourhood.

When I made trips into town every other day, I carried refuse to dispose of at council bins which I knew would be emptied every day. We couldn't burn all of our garbage because things like diapers would remain intact. Besides, that would be polluting the air anyway. Digging a compost was out of the question because of the hazards it would pose to our dogs.

We were caught in a fix. Now that lockdown restrictions have been tightened with Covid-19 cases continuing to spike, I don't frequent town anymore, which means the garbage is piling up in black bags in my backyard. It's been more than two months since refuse was collected in this part of the city and some of my neighbours have started dumping their waste in a nearby stream and surrounding bushes.

While others have found mechanisms to help manage waste, most have resorted to illegal dumping, which is bad for the environment. Most people understand and are very much aware of the repercussions of illegal dumping. Regardless, some individuals simply don't see the need for recycling waste or following the proper waste disposal channel and therefore go to highly unusual lengths to dispose waste illegally.

Some people are simply too lazy to bring their trash to official dumping sites. A fraction of our society also does not care about the illegal dumping problem and its consequences. They do so by completely avoiding prosecution and detection, which means that they do know their act is unlawful.

Although some waste will eventually rot and in the process smell, some of it will generate methane gas, which is explosive and contributes to the greenhouse effect. Research shows that incinerating waste also causes problems because plastics tend to produce toxic substances, such as dioxins, when they are burnt.

Gases from incineration may cause air pollution and contribute to acid rain, while the ash from incinerators may contain heavy metals and other toxins. Land, water, soil and air pollution in the neighbourhood are primarily caused by this illegal dumping.

Experts say the chemicals and non-biodegradable materials in the waste affect the physical environment and the waterways by contaminating groundwater and soil. The waste can also spread weeds and pests, therefore, affecting agriculture and wildlife.

Wildlife and domesticated animals can also die after consuming poisonous materials such as plastics and chemicals from the waste. The environmental risks are too many. Illegal dumping of chemicals, tyres and green waste can increase the risk of wildfires.

The dirt and smell can also make such areas unsightly which impacts on tourism, especially if the dumping is done in forests or beside the road. Illegal dumping also poses a serious health and safety risk to children who may pick, eat or play with the dumped material.

It may never be distinctively clear, but illegal dumping surely puts the entire community at risk. Illegal dumpsites can also block storm drains thereby turning into a breeding ground for diseases and causing flooding.

Since the BCC is failing to collect refuse, residents should be given the option of removing the refuse collection fee from their rates and pay someone privately to do the job.

A few enterprising individuals have since established a niche and started businesses that offer a refuse collection service.

If residents could mobilise funds to engage a private contractor to collect refuse weekly, that would go a long way in clearing up the rubbish that has been piling up in our communities. Most importantly, we need to be responsible and take the initiative to look after our environment.

For our children and generations to come.

Source - the herald