BY SILAS NKALA
A HEALTH time bomb is ticking in most parts of Bulawayo due to the sprouting of illegal garbage dumping sites with Bulawayo City Council (BCC) citing fuel problems as the reason for its failure to collect the waste.
A Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) report released on January 11 highlighted that an increase in illegal garbage dumping sites across the city was posing a serious health risk to residents.
“Illegal litter dumping is one of the major service delivery and human rights challenges facing BCC currently,” the report read.
“The scourge, which is caused by residents, private companies, government entities and failure by council to execute its environmental mandate effectively, has the catastrophic impact of fuelling the spread of diseases such as cholera and diarrhoea.”
The report added: “It also violates residents’ constitutional rights such as the right to a clean environment, life, health, human dignity as well as children and youths’ right to leisure.”
MIHR’s observations come after ward 4 councillor Silas Chigora, during a full council meeting, raised concern over illegal littering in the city.
“The city council cannot go for over a month or two without collecting refuse. Where would we expect residents to dump their garbage? This is not healthy, especially now that we are faced with COVID-19. People will be exposed to various diseases associated with garbage not properly disposed of.” Chigora said.
“Challenges remained with clearance of sweepings due to shortage of vehicles,” the report read.
“Refuse was collected fortnightly in the eastern areas and weekly in high-density areas. Some areas did not have their refuse collected on scheduled days due to fuel shortages.”
The MIHR reported that the festive season was characterised by an increase in waste generation.
“Illegal and indiscriminate dumping of household litter has been rapidly increasing,” the report added.
“Previously, illegal litter dumping used to be for large materials like bricks, asbestos, iron sheets, hedges and other debris. However, in recent times, even household litter that includes papers and clothing are being indiscriminately dumped,” the report read.
The human rights organisation said illegal litter dumping affected residents’ enjoyment of environmental rights as it exposed them to diseases.
“Illegal littering promotes breeding grounds for mosquitos, flies and rodents which are disease vectors and thus can result in human death,” MIHR noted.
“As the illegally dumped litter rots, it releases smell that is not good for human wellbeing and violates the right to human dignity as enshrined in section 51 of the Constitution. During COVID-19 period some of the litter being illegally dumped like gloves and face masks expose especially children who may play with litter.”
MIHR also said the shortage of bins was exacerbating the situation and urged the local authority to strictly adhere to its litter collection schedule.
In a notice on Monday, BCC town clerk Christopher Dube said the local authority had fuel challenges which were disrupting waste collection schedules.