Dar es Salaam — Will the problem of uncollected garbage in the streets of Dar es Salaam ever become history? Authorities in the Kinondoni Municipality, one of the five municipalities in the city, seem to think so as they avidly implement a new garbage collection system.
The new system, despite increasing the amount of garbage collected and disposed daily, has failed to end the problem entirely. And it has met both resistance from garbage collectors and mixed reactions from Kinondoni residents, The Citizen established in a random survey.
One of the changes in the new system is how and to whom waste collection payments should now be paid to. Garbage collectors have usually been contracted by the municipality.
They would collect garbage in designated areas and disposed it at the Pugu dumpsite in the outskirts of the city and at Mapinga in Bagamoyo District, Coast Region.
The contractors would also directly collect payments for the job - usually doing so on the spot from the owners/renters of the premises from which the garbage is collected.
More often than not, this left the municipal authorities in the dark - especially regarding the amount of garbage collected over a given period of time, and from where.
Worse still was the fact that the municipal authorities had no concrete idea regarding how much money the contractors collected - and what amount of that went to whom, including the municipal coffers.
According to the Kinondoni municipal director, Mr Aron Kagurumjuli, the municipality produces an estimate of 1,223 tonnes of garbage daily.
Yet, it only has the capacity and ability to manage proper disposal of the garbage by between 51-and-67.6 per cent.
This situation prompted the authorities to go back to the drawing board and come up with new, more functional procedures.
In his memo dated September 13, 2018, to ten-house cell leaders over which the director has jurisdiction, Mr Kagurumjuli penned that, "for a long time now, Kinondoni has prioritised the issue of sanitation - without much success... "
In the event he called for rethinking alternative strategies which would hopefully resolve the problem. Eventually in October 2018 the Kinondoni Municipal Council changed the system of collecting garbage for disposal in October last year - as well as how and to whom garbage collection charges would be paid and allocated to all parties involved, including the contractors and municipal coffers.
In the event, steps were taken to phase out the 'old' system that allowed contractors to collect garbage and directly collect disposal charges cash - replacing it with what was considered a saner system.
From last October, garbage disposal contractors were restricted to the provision of garbage collection and disposal services, while the payment side of the 'industry' was confined to the municipal authority.
Discarding the old system angered the contractors. Needless to belabour the point, the municipality was the loser under the old arrangements - especially because the authorities were not assured of the right amount of revenues generated in the garbage disposal business.
Besides, the garbage collection and disposal services that were provided by private contractors failed to dent the huge mounds of garbage dumped on street pavements.
Data obtained from the Dar es Salaam City Council by The Citizen showed that private contractors were able to collect and dispose from Kinondoni municipality some 8,170, 8,375 and 7,913 tonnes of solid waste during July, August and September 2018 respectively.
However after the new system was introduced the rate of garbage disposal increased to 9,190 and 9,190 tonnes during October, and November 2018, respectively.
The general idea of the new system was to boost the Kinondoni garbage disposal rate from 67.6 per cent achieved under the old arrangement to 85 per cent by 2018-2019. Contrary to what they were used to under the discarded system, contractors now have to enter into a formal agreement with the municipal authority under which the latter is responsible for paying them for the services they render. They are paid per collection/disposal trip made, based on the capacity of their garbage trucks. Under the new arrangements, 20 per cent of the monthly revenue collections by the municipality are allocated to the ten-house cells to pay for supervision of the garbage collection exercise (5 per cent) - with the remaining 15 per cent going into the ten-house cell's coffers. The Municipal Council remains with 80 per cent of the total "for the purpose of running the exercise of waste collection," including paying the garbage contractors for their services.
Commenting on the matter, the Kinondoni Ward councillor, Mr Mustafa Muro (Chadema), lauded the new arrangements, saying that they would help fulfil his election campaign pledges.
"Voters elected me after I promised them that we would ensure a clean environment by taking care of all the waste produced in the Ward," he said - adding that "this was unlikely to happen under the previous garbage disposal arrangements."
By way of explanation, the Environmental and Sanitation officer at the Kinondoni Municipal Council, Mr Abilu Peter, said the new garbage collection and disposal arrangements were based upon the findings of a study by his Department that prompted the decision to change the old revenue collection model.
"It was aimed at improving sanitation in the municipality," Mr Peter explained. "I can only say that we are on the right track in that direction," he insisted - stressing that, "in revenue terms, for example, a total of Sh2.35 billion has been collected by the Council since the new arrangements were enforced" last October.
Reactions from the streets
When the writting of this article started late last month, six months after th new system was introduced- The Citizen observed piles of garbage in the pavements in various streets of the municipality - seemingly abandoned by their 'producers,' and ignored by garbage collectors!
So..? A resident of Kanazi Street in Kinondoni municipality, Mr Reginald Mlingi, 35, says he doesn't remember when he last saw a municipal garbage truck the area.
"They (municipal garbage collectors) come around once a month - if at all," he said as he pointed to piles of garbage by the roadside near an eatery selling potato chips and skewered meats amid swarms of flies.
"Thank God the sun dries up the garbage. Otherwise, we couldn't get this close to it for the stench and flies" Mr Mlingi wryly said.