Govt Implored to Assist Local Authorities with Solid Waste Management

The government has been implored to assist local authorities with the construction of standard landfill sites in order to improve solid waste management. This call was made by Bulawayo-based Human Rights watchdog Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) in reaction to the Auditor General’s 2019 report.

According to the report, most local authorities nationwide are struggling with refuse management, a situation which causes serious threats to the environment and human rights in the specific communities.

Coordinator for MIHR Khumbulani Maphosa urged the government, through Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate to develop a Treasury funded program of action to assist local authorities finance standard landfill sites construction.

“As MIHR, we feel the local authorities need to expedite the construction of proper landfill sites and procure suitable garbage collection and management vehicles. There is also need for innovative funding mechanisms may need to be developed to fund environmental management concerns,” Maphosa said. “The Parliament must also amend the Environment Management Act [Chapter 20:27) and specifically devolve the management of the Environmental Fund to Provincial and District authorities.”

Maphosa said most local authorities cited that they do not have suitable landfill sites and garbage management equipment including lack of funding to establish standard scientific engineering landfill sites, unavailability of land and centralization of land allocations.

“With 43 local authorities still to be audited,” Maphosa said, “MIHR is concerned by the inability of local authorities to have standard scientific engineering landfill sites and proper standard and adequate refuse management equipment. Unsuitable landfill sites pose a threat to environmental management, increase land pollution, air-pollution and pollution of underground water sources through leachates.”

The report noted that the landfill site in Masvingo is reported to be unsuitable as it is too close to a residential location while Mutare City Council is also alleged to be operating without an approved dumpsite in compliance with environmental management legislation.

“Bindura Municipality had no standard engineered landfill but was using a decommissioned mine site. As a result, the decommissioned mine dumpsite remained non-compliant with EMA requirements, as it was unregistered. Marondera Rural District Council also used a dumpsite that is not compliant at Mahusekwa Growth Point. Bubi Rural District Council was operating without a landfill site altogether,” read the report.

Maphosa said the other problem noted from the report is lack of proper refuse equipment like compactors and refuse collection trucks.

“In Masvingo City Council the local authority is operating with 3 instead of the required 6 refuse compactors and this results in refuse at the landfill site not compacted at all. Chitungwiza Municipality was operating with 1 refuse compactor and old garbage collection trucks that frequently broke down,” he said.

“A near similar scenario was noted in Binga Rural District Council where the local authority relies on a tractor to collect garbage as it does not have refuse collection trucks.”

Last week the Bulawayo City Council in conjunction with EMA held a media tour where the local authority was showcasing the projects it is undertaking to improve solid waste management.

Source: Centre for Innovation and Technology

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