Image: A refuse team makes a collection in Harare in July this year. Many of Harare’s rubbish trucks are broken down, or have empty fuel tanks as an imminent fuel shortage starts to take hold.
City of Harare is blaming a fuel shortage and broken down vehicles for their failure to collect rubbish for up to two weeks in some areas. This is in line with the national cash crisis that has seen importers of commodities finding it increasingly difficult to make payments abroad, and local businesses demanding cash payments in US dollars to hedge against the looming introduction of bond notes to the country.
Speaking to Harare News this morning, a manager at a branch of one of the biggest fuel station franchises in Zimbabwe confirmed that their supply of petrol and diesel was becoming increasingly erratic.”We are finding ourselves without fuel more frequently. It used to be a day here and there, but now it can be three days in a row that our supplier leaves us dry. They are having difficulty paying for it to be imported,” she said.
Perhaps the first visible symptom of a possible fuel crisis is that all across Harare bags of waste lie uncollected on verges where stray dogs and the wind can scatter their contents. It is now common to see household refuse littering previously orderly verges and roads, even in the normally well-kept Northern suburbs.
Council Spokesperson Mike Chideme told Harare News that their suppliers are declining to accept RTGS payments from the City, and instead are demanding cash up front.
“Firstly, let me apologise on behalf of council for the erratic garbage collection. Secondly, I point to the causes – namely the perennial issue of a very old fleet that is constantly breaking down, and a shortage of fuel as our suppliers demand payment up front and in cash,” said Chideme.
Chideme advises residents to stand by for some solutions that include private contractors who will handle recyclables, and a methane power plant to be installed at Pomona dump as a way of adding value to the waste so that waste management is improved. “Both proposals have been tendered and council is now set to appoint contractors to manage these projects.”
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