Lilongwe City is hit hard by poor garbage collection. This chronic malady seems to be beyond the management of the Lilongwe City Council.
The common excuse which I find lame is they have inadequate funds and other resources due low remittance of city rates.
Why do people fail to pay rates? People will easily pay for something they value. Are residents obsessed with free services? Is it because of discontentment with service delivery or poor enforcement of punitive measures for defaulters?
The questions are endless.
But to a visionary leader, limited funds are never an excuse for failure. If one makes a decision constrained by what they have, they will never break free from the cell of mediocrity.
Every problem that remains unaddressed can only become bigger with time. Actually, it is more difficult and expensive to rectify later than earlier.
Kawale is a typical township plagued by poor waste disposal. Unlike in the past, most residential plots have no more space where they can dig rubbish pits.
For this reason, people cannot wait until the city council finds resources. Over the years, Kawale residents have been offloading litter into the Lilongwe River and any open space in sight.
When it rains, the downpour pushes the refuse into rivers and streams.
Even knowledgeable people will do something bad if it is the only thing that provides temporary relief.
Who does not know in Kawale that throwing waste in a river is bad? This is not a question of lack of education, for most Kawale residents work in either public or private sector.
Moreover, it does not require education to know that proper waste disposal is essential. It is simply an inborn common sense.
What is the real underlying problem?
One of the simplest solutions to seemingly huge problems is ability to accept one’s limitations. It becomes easier to deal with a problem you have accepted than the one you ignore or deny. When one accepts their own shortfall in capacity, there is further need to call for assistance.
Asking for help is not a weakness, but strength!
Lilongwe City Council should explore the benefits of subcontracting refuse collection and waste disposal to some entrepreneurs or enterprises.
This can improve service delivery.
The subcontractors could use inexpensive wheel barrows in their house to house collection. This means that the collection costs are minimised.
Subcontracting can create employment. There it goes again, there is money in garbage. As sanitation improves, so do waterborne and hygiene-related diseases such as cholera.
The system would work like this: every fortnight, the subcontracted company should conduct door-to-door garbage collection. Each household should be required to pay a compulsory collection fee. To allow for competition and better service delivery, the areas should be divided into collection zones. Each zone should be allocated to a specific company.
This will make it easy to monitor and evaluate performance.
Instead of benefitting from the garbage we produce through recycling, we are creating more problems with it.
The unaccounted tonnage of rubbish that drains off into Lilongwe River, will soon begin to yield environmental damage if not addressed.
The river, which is source of drinking water downstream, will be toxic.
We always say that water is life. Bad water is death! Polluted water is a cause for many diseases.
This will inadvertently overburden our economy. Needless to say, when garbage is properly collected it becomes a resource of income generation through recycling.
There are many products that can be made from garbage. Lilongwe is missing out on these. n