Samantha Chigogo Herald Correspondent —
Harare City Council, which is battling to contain a typhoid outbreak, is struggling to collect garbage as it emerged that 25 out of its 48 refuse trucks are down due to fuel shortages and mechanical faults.
A survey by The Herald recently showed that several refuse compactors were lying idle at the city’s automotive workshop in the capital. This comes as residents in several suburbs have since created their own illegal dump-sites since garbage has not been collected for a number of weeks.
However, sources revealed that the city had only five operational refuse collection vehicles instead of 50 that were required daily. In an interview recently, city’s acting corporate communications manager Mr Michael Chideme, said half of the city’s waste collection vehicles were not functional.
“The city has 48 refuse compactors and four skip trucks that are used for waste collection,” he said.
“Fifty percent of the fleet is currently operational while the rest is down due to challenges in supply of spares for maintenance of the fleet.”
Mr Chideme, however, put the blame on fuel suppliers.
“The backlog in collections is because of the ongoing fuel shortages,” he said.
“Suppliers were failing to deliver despite city having transferred all payments through RTGs, however, the situation is now on the mend and we expect you to be on scheduled collection track soon.”
He said the budget towards city’s operations was not enough to maintain the city’s demands in the maintenance of service vehicles and collections.
“Operational expenditure is budgeted at $23 million per year, but the budget is not sufficient to cover the cost of collections,” Mr Chideme said.
“The city is currently subsidising collections from the rates account and failure by customers to pay for the service is also affecting the smooth collection of garbage.”
He, however, said the city’s plans to buy additional garbage collection vehicles were in the pipeline for improved service delivery. The situation is reportedly worse in high density suburbs such as Mbare, Glen Norah, Glen View, Budiriro, Warren Park, Mabvuku and Kambuzuma.
Government recently commissioned PCF Waste Management Company to undertake refuse collection in partnership with all local authorities under a public private sector partnership deal worth millions of dollars to create an effective solid waste management system in the country.
The partnership would lessen the burden on Harare City Council, which is often overwhelmed by waste during the rainy season with heaps of garbage in street corners leaving residents exposed to diseases.