By Helen Kadirire
HARARE – It is not just Harare residents who are kicking and screaming over poor service delivery.
Interestingly, the city fathers themselves are now groaning because the poor state of Harare’s roads has conspired with reckless driving by their employeesto ground their refuse trucks.
According to minutes of the Environmental Management Committee, only 20 trucks have been in use for the whole of the capital city since February this year out of a fleet of nearly 60 trucks.
“The committee noted that the average fleet availability during the months of March, April and May was 20 trucks. The division fleet experienced a high frequency in breakdowns during the period under review. This was attributed mainly to operator behaviour and poor state of the roads and the dumpsite,” reads part of the minutes.
Committee chairperson, Herbert Gomba,told the Daily News on Sunday that refuse collection was on schedule for only 50 percent of the city, forcing council to think outside the box to avert a health disaster in the capital.
To ameliorate the situation, Harare is now resorting to afternoon and weekend collection of refuse, he said.
“Fourteen skip trucks have been deployed to collect skip bins around the city. Twenty new skip bins have been deployed in various areas within the central business district, Mbare, Willowvale, Zindoga shops, Highfieldterminus, St Peters Highfield and Specimen in Glen Norah,” said Gomba.
“The situation at skip bin points has improved significantly due to the introduction of the new skip bin trucks and the provision of new skip bins,” he added.
Council had 47 refuse trucks initially,before it added an additional nine refuse compactors, which were delivered last year.
The nine compactors were acquired through loans sourced from various banks.
Council officials have been trying to acquire more refuse trucks from China to ease the situation, but they have been hamstrung by foreign currency shortages crippling the local banking sector.
Last week, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe promised to release $600 000 every week to enable the city fathers to procure more refuse trucks.
This followed a meeting held between acting town clerk, Hosea Chisango,and central bank governor, John Mangudya.
In order to lessen pressure on the existing fleet, council decided in December last year to engage private truck companies to collect refuse on its behalf in some areas.
Before roping in private players, a pilot project had been conducted in August 2017, targeting Mabvuku, Tafara, Arcadia, Braeside, Hillside, St Martins, Kambuzuma, Dzivaresekwa and Warren Park suburbs.
Harare has for the last two decades struggled to collect garbage owing to an economic meltdown that has affected its capacity to deliver service to residents.
Mismanagement and profligacy on the part of council officials is also a major contributing factor.
Uncollected garbage has been linked with waterborne diseases such as typhoid and cholera as it is a breeding ground for the bacteria which then flows into water sources. Daily News.