Failure to collect refuse violates human rights: MIHR

The failure by the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) to collect refuse is a violation of human rights as it strips residents of their access to a clean and healthy environment, Matabeleland Institute of Human Rights (MIHR) has stated.

In a report compiled after discussions with city youths, MIHR noted that illegal litter dumping affects residents’ enjoyment of environmental rights as it exposes them to diseases.

The discussion was necessitated by the inconsistent refuse collection which has resulted in residents dumping their garbage on road sides, in skip bins and at various undesignated areas.

The local authority, as part of its service delivery duties, is mandated to collect refuse every fortnight in eastern suburbs and every week in high density suburbs. 

Of late residents have been going for almost a month without having their litter collected, a development the council has blamed on shortage of foreign currency to acquire fuel for refuse collection trucks.

In the latest full council meeting, deputy mayor Cllr Mlandu Ncube acknowledged the shortcomings of the local authority, stating it is high time they (BCC) sought assistance in order to deliver this crucial service. 

“Youths in Bulawayo have recommended that the local authority introduces litter collection points in order to curb indiscriminate throwing away of litter in residential areas,” read the report. 

“Section 73 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe declares that every person has the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being, to have the environment protected for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that prevent pollution and ecological degradation and promote conservation.”

The youths, according to the report, recommended that BCC should put up more public litter collection points. 

“BCC needs to review its waste management system because ever since the introduction of private trucks that are contracted as waste collectors, the problem of illegal litter dumping has become worse,” read the report. 

“It (BCC) may need to consider designating some of these illegal community dumping points at strategic areas of the City’s suburbs, and design them as central litter collection points. These points may also need to be fenced to discourage entry by children and pets as well as papers flying around. Skip bins may also be used in these points so that residents throw litter in them. This may serve the local authority fuel resources.”

The youths further suggessted that the contracted private litter collectors should redesign their trucks to allow them to empty litter and leave the bin or sacks behind instead of going with it. 

“This tendency of taking the litter bags or sacks may be discouraging residents from putting their litter outside on litter collection days. Also, stiffer policing and penalties for littering need to be introduced so that people may refrain from dumping litter everywhere,” the report read.

The report highlighted that stakeholder engagement is important in the creation of public awareness and consciousness on how to handle uncollected refuse.

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