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Bulawayo city centre dumpsite worsens chaos, decay

by Staff reporter
23 Jan 2024 at 04:38hrs | Views
AN illegal dumpsite, which resembles Bulawayo City Council (BCC)'s Richmond Landfill site, commonly known as Ngozi Mine has emerged, a stone's throw away from a busy road that connects the city centre and some eastern suburbs.

Squatters have also turned an area next to a building which belongs to Eveline High School into a camp. It has also become a crime hot spot while some apostolic faith sects have turned it into a worshipping area.

The area used to be the school's hockey grounds. A few metres away from the dumpsite lies an illegal bus rank where inter-city buses have become a common sight.

The public transporters used to operate from an illegal bus rank along Leopold Takawira Avenue near Centenary Park before moving to the illegal rank along 4th Avenue behind Eveline High School.

The transporters, who continue to shun Renkini bus terminus, have moved together with touts and vendors. The illegal dumpsite has somehow created more chaos in the city, which is already battling lawlessness characterised by dirt, chaos and decay.

From a reliable garbage collection schedule to public lighting and traffic light maintenance, Bulawayo used to be a city to reckon with.

With its clean tree-lined boulevards, recreational parks filled with flowers and other plants, and charming architecture, Zimbabwe's second-largest city was the country's smartest metropolis and a marvel to both visitors and residents.

Sadly, today, Bulawayo is a pale shadow of its former self and an eyesore. The city's dirty and crowded streets and unmanicured landscapes are no longer a delightful way to pass a few hours.

When a Chronicle news crew yesterday visited the area that squatters have turned into an illegal dumpsite, it observed heaps of garbage.

One of the waste pickers, who is also a squatter, only identified as Mr Mabuza said the area has turned into his home.

Every day, Mr Mabuza criss-crosses the width and breadth of the city centre, popping into popular bars and nightclubs located in the city centre in search of beer bottles and plastic containers.

"A broken beer bottle is still money to me. We collect beer bottles from nightclubs in the city centre and surrounding suburbs, especially after the weekend when people buy a lot of alcohol and dispose of the bottles outside bottle stores and nightclubs," he said.

"Bottle store owners now see the value of working with us as we clean their premises and collect all the waste free of charge. Plastic bottles from soft drinks and amasese (opaque beer manufactured by Delta Beverages) are the type of waste that we are interested in."

The business is booming judging by the number of individuals working at the dump site.

A woman and two children emerge from a building whose roof is falling off and roof sheets replaced with black plastics. Judging by their demeanor, they are a family that has found a home to live in.

Mr Mabuza said the large sacks that are separately filled with broken beer bottles and plastic await to be transported to Harare by truck, where a buyer sends his agents to buy the waste from him and his colleagues.

The waste pickers work like a cooperative putting together waste in groups and then sharing the profits when the litter is sold.

Residents, however, are concerned that the new unregulated dump site is a ticking bomb for diseases, in light of the cholera outbreak that is spreading across the country.

Bulawayo United Residents Association (BURA) chairperson Mr Winos Dube said it was worrying that individuals could invade a piece of land, and operate illegal business in the city centre without the municipality taking action.

"This issue was raised at a residents meeting last year and, unfortunately, nothing has been done about that place because the assumption is that they are operating illegally since we do not know that the place has been turned into a legal dump site," he said.

"We will take up the issue with the city council and find out what course of action will be taken against the people that are operating there."

BCC acting spokesperson Miss Bongiwe Ngwenya did not respond to questions sent to her. Efforts to contact Bulawayo mayor Councillor David Coltart were fruitless as calls on his phone were not getting through.

In August last year, BCC rolled out an ambitious programme that sought to attract companies for a massive plastic bottle recycling project, which would have seen schools being engaged and bins strategically placed at various locations for the disposal of the bottles.

The project aimed to have the city eventually being able to separate waste, with recyclable waste such as paper and cardboard, glass and tin being collected separately, while organic waste would be sent to the landfill for disposal.

"Due to an increased use of plastic materials for packaging, there has been an increase in the littering of these used or waste plastic materials. Even though waste collection bins and containers are placed all around the CBD, the public is not adhering to the proper disposal of this waste," read a BCC report.

Source - The Chronicle