Irate residents in Mzuzu on Friday damaged and shut down Msiro Waste Management Facility in protest against the city authorities’ alleged failure to safely manage garbage.
The burning and looting of the facility bankrolled by the European Union to the tune of K220 million has left Mzuzu City Council (MCC) with nowhere to dump waste.
The establishment—complete with a sorting bay and drying beds to ease the reduction, re-use and recycling of waste—was a first in the country.
MCC spokesperson McDonald Gondwe said the search for an alternative landfill will further squeeze the cash- strapped council “should the efforts to re-engage the Msiro community fail”.
“This may facilitate the piling of waste in our designated areas and spillover of skips and other bins, including the refuse bank near the main market,” he said.
Gondwe said the spat may close taps of donor support towards the completion of the facility which was not fully operational.
Donors may not be willing to support a project fraught with community opposition, he said.
“This also renders our efforts useless. Another vivid loss is the resources used to transport refuse to our temporary shelter,” Gondwe stated.
MCC is now dumping the waste at Choma, more than twice the distance from the city centre to Msiro.
Msiro community spokesperson Henry Bob Ngulube distanced his group from the acts of vandalism, but stated that the waste management opened by the First Lady Gertrude Mutharika in 2017 has been closed for good.
“The closure should remain, that’s what the community has agreed. No more discussions, it is what we agreed as and it will remain as such,” he said.
The facility, constructed to end unsafe dumping of waste in Mchengautuwa Township, was part of the Peri-Urban Sanitation and Hygiene (Push) project for environmental sustainability.