A shortage of bins has been identified as one of the key factors hampering waste management efforts in the Central Business District (CBD).
Harare is currently faced with a huge littering problem which has led many to question its ‘Sunshine City’ status. The explosion in litter in the CBD has been attributed by some to poor waste collection by council as well as to residents who carelessly litter, turning multiple areas of the CBD into an eyesore.
A survey that was jointly carried out by the Environmental Management Agency (EMA), the Zimbabwe Republic Police, and Council, indicates that there are only 173 bins in the CBD against a minimum requirement of 862. This situation has left many pedestrians willing to dispose of litter in undesignated areas such as storm drains. The city’s acting corporate communications manager, Michael Chideme, admitted that the city had a shortage of street bins at critical points, but added that it was not solely council’s responsibility to provide bins.
“Council policy requires all businesses to have bins at their entrance because they are the ones who generate waste. Companies should also have bins wherever they do business so that the garbage that is generated is taken care of. We are also working with corporates that are providing bins to council for public use,” said Chideme.
Chideme also appealed to companies, especially food outlets, to provide more bins for the City, “It is their responsibility to provide bins because they generate a lot of waste. There is also need for community responsibility on the part of residents. Community responsibility means that if you do not see any bins, you should carry your litter with you and dispose of it in the next bin you see.”
Other stakeholders, however, believe that council is largely to blame for the shortage of bins. Proudly Zimbabwean Foundation executive trustee, Fungai Chiposi spoke to Harare News and admonished council for failing to account for donated bins.
“Authorities have not taken care of the bins donated by the corporate sector. 318 bins installed by the Proudly Zimbabwean Foundation with the aid of 26 corporates have almost disappeared from the CBD. Under these circumstances, it is extremely difficult to come in and assist the city authorities,” said Chiposi.
It is important to note that other measures such as fining litterbugs have been introduced to deal with littering. However, this seems to be doing little to inhibit the practice despite the arrest of nearly 1,000 litterbugs from December 2015 when a serious anti-litter crackdown began.
In response, the government has been left with no choice but to propose stiffer penalties for littering and the Minister of Environment, Water and Climate Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri has since started advocating for mandatory community service for litterbugs.
“Apart from instituting fines for litter bugs, my ministry is working on ways to introduce community service for everyone caught on the wrong side of the law,” said Muchinguri-Kashiri while addressing delegates at an environmental event held in April.
Nevertheless, residents maintain that the shortage of bins is the root cause of littering. Alvin Matsika (32) from St. Martins says that authorities should provide bins first before coming up with other waste management strategies.
“There is clearly a massive shortage of bins in town, and this problem needs to be dealt with in stages. The first thing to do is to provide adequate bins then look at other strategies such as recycling. It does not help to clamp down on litterbugs while there are no bins,” he said.