Two weeks ago, this column carried an analysis of what is currently the trend of city councils involving private sector players to contribute to efficient management of solid waste whose generation in our cities has surpassed the capacity of our city council to manage the waste, both liquid and solid.
It was observed that this is a bold and good move by our council friends. Actually, these forms of involving private players are becoming common in developing countries, to complement councils in providing services.
However, those who read that issue may recall that the main purpose of that piece of article was basically to give some heads up to council officials to be active in monitoring the activities of these private players in management of solid and liquid waste. It was stated that one of the major risks of involving these private players is the temptation to dump the hazardous waste into undesignated places, either in rivers or open gardens. This temptation usually comes as a way of cutting costs emanating from distance covered to designated landfill sites and payment of some applicable fees, mostly at waste water treatment plants.
In fact, one of the risks which I did not discuss last time is the temptation of business-minded people to venture into this trade without formalising with city officials. If you consider the number of affluent communities developing in Lilongwe—Area 49 New Shire, Area 49 New Gulliver, New Area 18, Area 47 Sector 5, New Area 43, among others—in which the city has not introduced garbage collection services, business-minded individuals would not hesitate to jump at this opportunity, even without following formalities with city officials.
May be some of the readers thought this advice was just hypothetical and academic. Let me tell you something. Some of us who have been in this profession for around two decades have seen it all. This advice was based on experience.
In the last column, in which I first introduced this issue, I said that early this month I saw a medium-sized truck full of garbage veering off the Kaunda Road, branching to an open garden next to the magnificent Bingu Stadium. I said last time that when I contacted Mr. Vetto Mulula, director of Health at Lilongwe City Council, if he had an idea of what this truck may have been up to. He was suspicious just like I was.
On May 21 this year, just as I was driving on the same Kaunda Road towards the new Gateway Mall for some early shopping, I also encountered the same truck making the same maneuvering. I did not hesitate to call Mr. Mulula again. This time I told him to inform his colleagues to rush to where the truck was driving to. I stopped there until city officials came. In not time they came on a bike and I showed them the direction the truck had taken.
I proceeded home and started perusing through the weekend papers. In no time I received a call from one of the city council officials. With his voice sounding happy, he congratulated me for the tip off. He informed me that they had found the truck with its occupants busy offloading the garbage onto the banks of Lingadzi River. What a shame. Worse still, they were not even registered to undertake the service. The truck was impounded and the operator paid a fee.
As I warned city council officials last time, I repeat: ‘Actively monitor these guys. Most of them are up to no good’. n