Gulu — In 2008, National Environment Management Authority (Nema) earmarked Shs2.5 billion for the construction of a recycling plant in Gulu District but the project has since stalled, 10 years later.
By constructing the plant, the government hoped it would convert the municipal solid waste into manure to be sold out as fertilisers to farmers.
The abandoned site is at Pawor Village in Patiko Sub-county, 11 kilometres from the centre of Gulu Town.
Laroo, Bardege, Layibi and Pece divisions are the major areas where most garbage is generated; it is currently being dumped at a landfill in Laroo Division, which is also filled up.
The LC3 chairperson for Laroo Division, Mr Moses Abonga, says: "The surrounding communities have already raised the red flag on the matter, arguing that they are likely to contract diseases related to poor waste management."
The municipal officials up to now are silent on the plant that was meant to bridge the gap.
"We are not given clear reasons as to why the plant stalled for all this long. In some areas, the locals have resolved to dumping garbage in drainages since there is no way out," Mr Abonga says.
Mr Alfred Oluba of Layibi Division, who shares a similar plight, adds that waste management is a big threat among the populace.
"Plans are underway to have garbage points in most trading centres but after the collection, what happens?" he asks.
"We are at crossroads, municipal officials who should have been at the forefront to follow up on the matter are also not doing it," Mr Oluba says.
Mr Richard Nyadru Anyama, the principal health inspector for Gulu Municipal Council, says although the cost of putting up the facility was valued at Shs2.6 billion, they have since received less than Shs1 billion.
"With the funds released, we secured 10 acres of land, fenced it off and put in place a borehole. Nema gave us a wheel-loader, a tractor and a garbage truck," he says.
He says the cost of putting up the plant was being centrally managed by Nema that immediately ran out of funds before completing it.
"Nema officials told us that they were outsourcing for funds. They also tasked us to outsource for funds as well to get the plant done," Mr Nyadru says.
Mr Nyadru, however, warns that if the current landfill is not upgraded, it will last less than a year before the town can sink in garbage.
"We have also written concepts looking for funds from non-governmental organisations to seek an intervention over this. The landfill we have been using for the past 10 years in Laroo Division is getting filled up," Mr Nyadru says.
The landfill at Laroo sits on a six-acre piece of land.
The Nema senior public relations officer, Mr Tonny Acidria, says the project stalled due to miscalculations in the design of the facilities.
"We had eight of them being constructed but only three got completed. The five failed along the way including Gulu because we ran out of fund," he said.
NEMA with financial support from the World Bank established Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) compositing plants in which Gulu was part of the 13 municipalities to benefit. Even though Mukono, Jinja, Mbale, Soroti, Lira, Arua, Masindi, Hoima, Fort Portal, Kasese, Kabale and Mbarara municipalities have their facilities functional, that of Gulu has since stalled yet the land to set up the facility was secured five years ago.