11 February 2013

Tanzania: Dumpsites Should Be Located Far From Towns

IT was reported in our sister newspaper, the 'Sunday News', on Sunday that the garbage dump at Pugu on the outskirts of the city of Dar es Salaam is not only an eyesore but also a serious health hazard that threatens the welfare of residents in the vicinity of the dump.

Residents in the area complain bitterly about the stench that emanates from the dump and the smoke and fumes that waft into the residential area when incineration is carried out. The worst scenario at the dumpsite, however, is the presence of scavengers.

This is not good. Dumpsites should be located on the fringes of the cities or farther afield while incineration should be continual and thorough. Dumpsites in Dar es Salaam are almost always overflowing with refuse shunted in from various sources, including the port, hospitals, factories, garages and homes.

So, the poor eke out a meagre living from scavenging. Scavenging is not only demeaning but also a health hazard. The items commonly found in hospital refuse include bottles, used syringes, various types of needles and blades, cotton swabs or absorbent pads used in surgery, empty medicine containers and used bandages.

Most of these items are dangerous. Highly dangerous waste also comes from factories in the form of garbage laced with toxic chemicals, acids and poisons. Industrial effluents often flow into dumpsites. Scavengers can easily contract HIV/AIDS from accidental needle pricks or incisions from discarded surgical blades.

They also risk contracting hepatitis A and B, tetanus, typhoid and coliform. They risk respiratory impairments, including asthma. Food poisoning and other digestive disorders from eating rancid leftovers of food are also frequent. There is also the danger of lung function impairments and a range of skin disorders.

Bites from snakes and parasites are also likely. Factories and hospitals should have special incinerators or waste treatment plants. Families that live close to dumpsites have a sticky problem keeping their children away from the filth. Scavenging is morally reprehensible and is normally shunned by society. It should be discouraged.

City Fathers should urge authorities to clean the city and move dumpsites to safer locations. If all garbage dumps were moved to a discreet distance and incineration carried out thoroughly, no one would have gone there to rummage through the ash.

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