The City of Harare, once dubbed “Sunshine City” has now become an eyesore with uncollected garbage now commonplace across the city, including uptown and the avenues area.
Residents and stakeholders have often raised concern over the current state of affairs in Harare, warning this was a health time bomb and was scaring away potential investors.
However, over the past few years, the city authorities have failed to prioritize the issue of garbage collection and service delivery in general, which has seen most suburbs in the city going for months on end without running water.
Refuse collection trucks have become rare in most suburbs, which has resulted in residents dumping their waste everywhere, creating numerous dumpsites in the middle of settlements and in the middle of the Central Business District.
Recently, President Emerson Mnangagwa gave city authorities a four-week ultimatum to clear all garbage in and around the city following an uproar by stakeholders.
But newly elected Harare Acting Mayor, Cllr Enock Mupamaonde, said while the city authorities were committed to start refuse collection and the clearance of dumpsites, the council had no resources to execute the task.
In a press statement on the City’s capacity to collect refuse and removal of illegal dump sites, Mupamaonde appealed to stakeholders to assist with the necessary resources for the rubbish clearing exercise, which commenced on April 26 and is expected to run for four weeks.
“To enable us to clear all dumpsites in Harare within a period of four weeks, the city needs help of the following;4x front-end loaders (the city has two at the moment), 2x 15 cubic tipper trucks; and the city has nothing at the moment, 30 refuse collection trucks (the city currently has 8), 2 skid steer loaders (currently city has 1), 100 000 litres of fuel and currently the city has nothing.
“And for this exercise to be a success, we need all hands on deck. We are appealing to all stakeholders, the business community, churches, fuel suppliers, amongst others to assist in any form,” he said.
He said an Ordinary full council meeting held on April 22, which finally sat after two other meetings failed to constitute a quorum, had resolved emphasized the urgent need to prioritize refuse collection and clearance of illegal dumpsites.
“Council agreed unanimously that service delivery provision must be at the center of the city council and refuse collection and removal of illegal dumpsites be prioritized for the good health of citizens,” he said.
Mupamaonde said council had proposed a system that ring-fenced monthly refuse collection money to fund the purchase of refuse collection trucks for each ward as the available ones were inadequate, adding they had also resolved to re-introduce the 25 percent budget retention to fund local service delivery.
He said a tour by councilors and officials at the the City Council’s two mechanical workshops of the refuse trucks and other related machinery had revealed that more than 50 refuse collection trucks were non-functional due to various mechanical problems.
“The council has 62 refuse collection trucks but only eight are functional at the moment thus depriving citizens, who are the ratepayers, of service,” he said
Mupamaonde said the recent council resolution would act as a long term measure to address refuse collection and dumpsite clearance in Harare.
The city authorities, however, raised the ire of residents and stakeholders last week after they authorized a US$136 000 budget for a 60-member delegation to attend the recently ended Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo.
The money was allegedly diverted from the refuse collection budget.