Finally solutions to uncollected garbage found

Wed, 04 Jan 2017 14:47:49 +0000



‘PREVENTION is better than cure’ is an old adage often socially and medically used and the mantra is as true today as it was when it was first coined by a Dutch philosopher Desiderius Erasmus.

Erasmus may never have been a Christian or could never have read the Bible but his wise quote resonates with the biblical quote of cleanliness being next to godliness.

Speaking health and environment, it is a fact that preventing a disease is cheaper than treating one and Zambians at large and particularly those in Lusaka have over the years taken their health and environment for granted.

Lusaka is Zambia’s capital city and by any standards, it is expected to be the cleanest but alas, the city had but turned into a cesspool of garbage, pollution and waste. Lusaka is as at now nothing but a heap of garbage.

Pollution is one of the most dangerous environmental hazards plaguing the world and is slowly affecting the global ecosystem resulting in climate change whose effects are now clear.

With the ever increasing garbage piles around the city of Lusaka, the prevention of water borne diseases is almost impossible.

And this means that the Government will continue to spend more money treating diseases when this could be avoided.

The garbage around the city of Lusaka has proven to be the brooding house for water borne diseases that have not spared the city in the past years.

In April 2016 alone, out of the 567 cases of cholera that were  reported in Zambia , Lusaka had 482 cases with most of them being from Kanyama, a residential area that is just a stone throw away from the city centre.

The song of garbage posing a health hazard has been sang many a time by too many and different soloists but coming up with a sustainable solution is almost equal to zero.

There have been cries coming from different sections of society calling for either the proper disposal of garbage or the collection of the same but nothing seems to yield any results.

Residents of the city and the local authority mandated to manage waste, all play the blame game and point accusing fingers at each other, and instead of joining forces to institute lasting measures to the problem which when not handled in time would claim lives.


The unchangeable fact still remains that the city is dirty, whether it is because the residents are generally dirty or because the local authorities are irresponsible.

True to this statement are the acknowledgements made by the residents of Lusaka.

Patriotic Front (PF) Kafue district youth Chairman Manda Kamima said Lusaka residents are generally dirty because the businesses operating in the city and residents do not have a good garbage disposal system.

He said the biggest challenge the city faced was lack of responsibility from the residents.

“There is lack of responsibility among the residents and business community especially those who operate bars in the residential areas, the garbage they dispose off  usually ends up in the drainage system and this in turn causes the perennial floods in the city, “he said.

He stated that street vendors were also a major contributor to the bad outlook of the city.

“The people along Lumumba, Cairo and Cha-Cha Cha road in Lusaka do not have toilets, they use empty beer packs and water bottles to answer the call of nature and later throw them into the drainages and garbage heaps,” he said.

And traders operating in town have appealed to the Lusaka City Council, through the waste management department to find permanent ways of creating space for garbage disposal.

Edith Mwanza, a trader at old Soweto market, said the indiscriminate littering, and heaps of uncollected garbage around the city was becoming unbearable.

She said heaps of garbage at Soweto market had not been collected by the council for a long time, adding that the situation could lead to an outbreak of diseases such as cholera and dysentery.

And a Lusaka City market trader Muchemwa Cheembe complained about the poor sanitary conditions they were subjected to due to the ever increasing amount of uncollected garbage and appealed to the local authority to step up garbage collection.

But the Lusaka City Council promised to address the problem of uncollected garbage in the city.

LCC public relations manager Habeenzu Mulunda said plans were underway to ensure that a new dumping site was found as the main dump site in Chunga had no space to accommodate more garbage.

“Lusaka City Council is working tirelessly to ensure that they provide dumping space for waste management companies to operate better,” he said.

He said the challenge of uncollected waste in the city was due to lack of equipment, negative mindset and unprecedented population growth levels over the years.

He said the growth of the human population in the city had been massive and had not been matched with growth in capacity for service provision by the local authority.

He said there was need for the residents to have a positive mind set and dispose garbage at designated sites to ease the burden of garbage collection by the waste management companies.

It is not strange to move around Lusaka and see used bottles and banana peels flying from car windows driven by the alleged elite in society.

And Lusaka provincial Minister, Japhen Mwakalombe has a solution to the garbage problem though it will only be effected in the next three years.

The minister revealed that Government was studying a proposed Memorandum of Understanding from the Chinese government which when signed would see the setting up of a plant to generate electricity using garbage.

He said keeping the city of Lusaka clean without adding value to garbage would be impossible.

“It is not easy to make Lusaka clean without adding value to the garbage, when garbage has value people will not be throwing litter anyhow because this will be like throwing money,” he said.

He said garbage would move from being a nuisance to being a darling.

He advised the residents to separate their litter by throwing tins, plastics and metal separately for them to be recycled easily.

He revealed that a Chinese company recycling plastic is already operating in Lusaka and that the Government had plans of engaging a company that could recycle glass which is littering most bars in the city.

“We want to attract more investors to recycle plastics because they are blocking the drainage system in the city and causing the floods that have become a perennial problem,” he said.

He said just as the coming in of buyers of scrap metal had reduced the number of people disposing off metal, it was the Government’s hope that the project would regulate the disposal of garbage in the city.

“Since the issue of people dealing in scrap metal started, you rarely find scrap metal lying idle people are getting into people’s yards and are taking any piece of metal they can find, we look forward to a time when we can find people being arrested for stealing garbage,” he said.

He said his plan was to make Lusaka cleaner and better, adding that the waste management strategy would help in accomplishing that.

“According to the information the Chinese have given us, Lusaka City Council alone will be able to produce 10 megawatts of power from the garbage collected and this will help cushion the electricity challenge the country faces,” he said.

He explained that the bi-products obtained from the production of electricity would be used for road construction and making blocks for building.

He said apart from electricity, the project was expected to produce purified drinking water and would be operational in the next three years.

While this project is expected to take root in the next three years what happens to the current situation in the city?

The outlook of Lusaka is the representation of the whole country because this is the first place most visitors in the country come to before they can proceed to other parts of the country.

The solution could firstly be with the residents being more responsible in the manner they go about disposal of garbage whether in the residential area or on the streets.

If people can change their mindset and throw garbage at designated points, the responsibility would now rest on the local authorities to do their part.

As the local authority has a department which is mandated to regulate waste management in the city and this is the Waste Management Unit (WMU).

WMU is mandated to plan, organise, execute and supervise waste management services in other selected areas in the city and the management of disposal sites.

The unit operates in a cost neutral manner which means it generates sufficient funds to pay for all the expenditure required to provide an efficient and affordable waste collection and disposal service in the entire city.

Among the main functions of the unit includes the management of the disposal site which is currently in Chunga, the registration and charging of fees for waste disposal, collection of waste from the central business district and all parts of the city.

This then means that at the end of every month there are people getting a salary for the responsibility of collecting garbage.

If this is the situation, does it mean the people responsible for garbage collection are not working or their work is not being noticed due to the too huge piles of garbage in the city?

This is a question that lingers on the minds of most if not all Lusaka residents.

In response to this query, the provincial minister discloses that the responsibility of garbage collection has been tasked to different waste management companies most of which have their contracts expired and are awaiting renewal of the same.

If the city is to record a reduction in the number of cholera and diarrhoea diseases, there was need for both the residents and the local authority to be responsible.



Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button