27 February 2013

Tanzania: Keeping Our Cities Clean Is Everyone's Duty

JOBSEEKERS, small-scale traders and other opportunists who stream into the city of Dar es Salaam daily have been blamed for littering or polluting the city because some of them do not have the culture for cleanliness.

A Minister of State in the Vice-President's Office (Environment), Dr Terezya Huvisa, has been quoted as saying that due to their cultural diversity, newcomers who troop into the city daily to look for better livelihoods pose a critical cleanliness problem to the City Fathers. This is partially true. It is on record that about 400,000 people enter the city of Dar es Salaam from rural Tanzania daily.

However, a similar or slightly smaller number of people leave the city for upcountry destinations. Some never return. Whether it is the newcomers who litter the streets of Dar es Salaam or the permanent residents is disputable. What is indisputable is that about 70 per cent of the garbage generated daily in the city remains uncollected because the city does not have the muscle to do so.

Last year Regional Commissioner Said Mecki Sadiki declared that he would leave no stone unturned in a quest to rid the city of the offensive, smelly garbage and litter. This was a noble initiative, indeed. Unfortunately, not much has been done so far. Most densely populated areas are quite smelly. Certainly, the going has been tough for the RC. The city has too few garbage trucks, a situation that compounds the problem.

In fact, garbage collectors never visit squatter areas where most garbage is generated. Here, heaps of rotting refuse and litter are a perennial eyesore. The Indian Ocean shoreline which should attract tourists and local swimmers is extremely messy. The city, which is affectionately known as the Haven of Peace, has too few public toilets.

In fact, some people relieve themselves day and night in dank alleys or sometimes, right in the open or on the beach. For the poor, the price of public toilet service, which stands at 200/- per visit in most places, is forbidding. Some dumpsites are located in squatter areas where they pose a frightening health hazard. Now, this is a cardinal sin.

Dumpsites should be located on the fringes of the city or farther afield and incineration should be continual and thorough. The smelly dumpsites are often visited by needy children and poor adults. These poor Tanzanians scavenge for leftovers of food and discarded items they deem valuable.

Scavengers often eat rancid leftovers of food in garbage dumps risking serious health problems that include deadly diseases such as typhoid and cholera. Well, scavenging is morally reprehensible and is normally shunned by society. It should be discouraged.

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