It’s been more than three weeks since Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality in the Free State collected refuse in the Bloemfontein inner city and surrounding areas. Some residents have resorted to using their own transport to collect the waste.
The municipality says it is running short of fuel to power the garbage trucks. This is not the first time that a fuel shortage has brought services to standstill.
The ongoing backlog has resulted in rubbish piling up in public spaces. People’s livelihood and business are being affected.
Bad for business
Hawkers are also complaining. Mathapelo Dikgacoi, who is a food vendor, says she tries to keep her workstation clean. But many of her customers are turned away by the terrible smell.
“The amount of dirt in town due to the failure of workers to collect refuse is costing us. I no longer make profit because of rubbish next to where I sell from. The rubbish keeps on piling up each day.”
Small business owners have not been spared. Abubaker Haile Silasie owns a food outlet in the central business district in Bloemfontein. He says one of his customers had to use the back door to leave the premises due to stench at the entrance of the outlet.
“Ever since the shortage of fuel that resulted in non-collection of refuse I have been closing the front door and using the back door to operate my business. You can’t let people pass through the piling rubbish and it smells really bad, “ he says. “Personally I’m asthmatic and this is also hazardous to my health.”
Mariette de Wet is an elder at the local retirement estate in the area. She says the failure has been causing health problems to elderly people in the area.
“We have since been using private refuse removal collectors so that we keep our area clean. It is sickening to have rubbish all over the place,” De Wet says.
Waste removal is pertinent to public and environmental health. Failure to properly dispose of waste can result in the spread of bacteria as well as pests such as rats. The non-removal of waste can also lead to the pollution of air and water.
Lindokuhle Mazibuko, an environmental health inspector, says air pollution due to the odour caused by piling rubbish was unfortunate. “This is costly on many sides. Those staying at the flats near the CBD are badly affected by the rubbish as the piling is blocking the entrance of their flats. For businesses it is also bad because bacteria can find ways to them and be dangerous to consumers.”
Mazibuko adds that the municipality’s failure needs to be addressed urgently. “When businesses close down because of non-operation due to rubbish piling up outside, people will suffer because they will be forced to be retrenched.”
Fixing the problem
Spokesperson Qondile Khedama says the metro is sorting the matter and is in talks with the supplier.
“We would like to apologise to the residents and clients of the metro for failing to attend to important queries due to the ongoing fuel challenge. The mayor, and the team are working around the clock to try to resolve the problems.
“We have assigned temporary refuse removal companies on an urgent basis to collect refuse around the metro while the matter is being attended to. Residents are urged to cooperate with the contractor during this period,” Khedama says.
The DA in the metro has lambasted the ANC for running the metro to its knees. “The supplier of the diesel is owed and is refusing supply while he’s unpaid the outstanding (amount). The refuse has not been sufficiently collected throughout the metro due to no fuel. This is due to the municipality being under administration,” says DA councillor Mokgadi Kganakga. – Health-e News