Hard on the heels of the fire that engulfed the Pomona dumpsite in October comes news that the City of Harare (CoH) will be decommissioning the site in favour of a landfill.
This will be in compliance with international disposal standards and the Environmental Management Act of Zimbabwe. CoH Waste Management Department director Dombo Chibanda explains: “The new landfill will help us conserve ground water, avoid air pollution and most importantly curb our long standing problem of fire outbreaks at our dumpsites.”
A landfill differs from a dumpsite in that it is lined with non-porous material, such as clay, and they are covered each day with soil, which helps to keep vermin, air and water out of the waste – all problematic in waste management.
Chibanda also says that this landfill will also be conducive to the recovering of recyclable material and efficient in disposing of toxic industrial waste.
The site at Pomona has long been criticised by environmentalists for both air and water pollution, not to mention the perennial fire outbreaks which this year claimed a life. These fires spew dark toxic smoke into the atmosphere, which is both a health and environmental hazard. Charlene Hewat from Environment Africa says, “Everything is currently dumped at the dump site. When Pomona was constructed it was not engineered, designed, or lined with clay and, now the rains are upon us, imagine what is going to go into our ground water.”
The landfill project will cost approximately $5 million, which will be used for environmental impact assessment for the proposed sites, tendering for the engineers who will look into the modality of a design structure, site preparation and the actual construction.
However Chibanda warns that, “The cost may go up or down depending on the charges of the contractors who are to be selected by the State Procurement Board (SPB).”
The project is projected to take approximately a year to finish, depending on how quickly the different stakeholders play their part at each stage. The stages include: the approval of the prospectus by EMA; acquisition of the land to be used; environmental impact assessment which involves the issuing of a tender to environmentalists by the SPB; consultation with stakeholders including residents living in the catchment of the proposed site; awarding of a tender for modality and designs of the landfill to engineers; and then the construction.
“We have already started the motion by handing our prospectus to EMA, who we are waiting on to give us the go ahead on the project,” says Chibanda.
The Pomona Dump was created in 1984 before the enactment of the Environmental Management Act and the inception of Environmental Management Agencies. In its early years, the dumpsite operated well but later, affected by the period of hyperinflation, the plant and equipment became unreliable due to a lack of maintenance. The security fence surrounding the dump was stolen leaving the site exposed to trespassing by vagrants, who allegedly started the fire that burnt for two weeks in October. This has led the CoH to swiftly move towards a landfill project. Four possible sites locations have been identified for the future landfill.
In another related project, CoH, with the help of European Union, plans to construct a bio-digester to take advantage of the daily vegetable waste at Mbare Musika. This will see the production of methane and, in the long run, electricity. Chibanda says that they are currently at inception stage where they are tying up loose ends on the paper work of the project.