Residents have expressed anger over the unreliable refuse collection service by Council, criticising them for not sticking to their timetables.
According to residents, Council refuse trucks either don’t come at all or come on the wrong day, often resulting in them speeding down the streets with an empty load, without having collected any refuse.
Dadirai Marodzera of Eastlea says it is disheartening that when residents try to play their part by putting their bins out for collection, Council do not clear them in time. “This is a nuisance for us,” she said. She added that at one time she was forced to chase after the collection truck holding a plastic bag full of waste, only to give up after it disappeared around the corner. “Though not justified, as residents we are forced to dump the rubbish because we cannot afford to let it accumulate in our backyards and risk contracting diarrhoeal diseases,” she added.
Jason Kadir of Waterfalls agrees with Marodzera, adding that the relevant department should at least notify residents of any changes in the scheduled days of refuse collection. “It’s inconsiderate and inefficient for Council refuse trucks to come on the wrong day without notice and as a result drive down the streets with empty load beds,” he lamented.
Harare Residents Trust (HRT) director, Precious Shumba, said they have received a report from the City of Harare (CoH) that 14 of their 47 refuse collection vehicles are off the road due to breakdowns. He said it is unfortunate that this information was only revealed to them after they had asked, adding that information of this nature, or changes of schedules must be made readily available. “We have received several reports from communities complaining that refuse collections are erratic and not in line with their schedules,” he said.
Shumba conferred with Marodzera’s assertion that this has resulted in communities resorting to dumping their uncollected garbage in open spaces, creating illegal dumpsites when it should be everyone’s duty and responsibility to maintain a clean and safe environment. “CoH needs to fully engage the citizens and find the best ways of disposing of refuse when Council’s trucks are unavailable. Such as having a clear policy of engaging churches, residents’ groups, businesses, and other stakeholders so that refuse is removed from the communities through joint community actions,” he suggested. Shumba said CoH should be transparent in how it uses refuse collection fees being paid monthly by residents. He says they shouldn’t have purchased more refuse collection vehicles if they had no plan of properly maintaining and managing them.
Meanwhile, CoH Principal Customer Relations Officer, Dorothy Mavolwane confirmed the breakdowns and attributed the collection of refuse on the wrong days to the re-assignment of trucks from neighbouring suburbs to fill the gap. “When there is a breakdown in, for example, Braeside, we take the truck that services Cranborne to replace it, hence the changes in days,” she said. She added that to ensure effective communication with the residents they have set up a customer call centre and are currently capturing geo-data of the residents in all the suburbs. “We are collecting information about residents, by area, phone numbers etc, so that we will be able to notify them via bulk Short Messages Services (SMS),” she said.
Recent years have seen Harare blemished by mountains of waste dumped in every open space available. This has caused disease outbreaks in some areas, particularly of cholera and typhoid. To avoid this, some residents have resorted to burning their refuse which causes pollution, another serious health hazard.
Photo: Meyrick Park Residents’ group Meypro battles to keep their neighbourhood free from fly tipping.