EMA takes over Harare’s waste management
TREASURY has disbursed funds to the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) to buy refuse collection trucks and temporarily manage solid waste in Harare following the continued dereliction of duty by City of Harare.
The Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry is crafting a Statutory Instrument (SI) that will enable EMA to subcontract private players, who will assist in providing the service to residents during the period.
The legal instrument will also be used in the long-term to compel local authorities to ring-fence solid waste revenue from ratepayers and ensure it is used for the intended purpose.
Illegal dumpsites have mushroomed across the city owing to council’s ineptitude.
Ministry of Local Government and Public Works’ communication and advocacy director Mr Gabriel Masvora said plans were at an advanced stage to allow EMA to commence solid waste management in the capital.
“Government has been forced to take drastic measures in Harare due to deterioration of services and plans have been put in place to ensure EMA collects refuse or contracts private companies,” he said.
“When the idea was mooted, it was decided that EMA would take over the collection of refuse and if it does not have the capacity, it contracts private players, with the bill sent to Harare City Council.”
EMA director of environmental management services Mr Steady Kangata said two lorries and a tipper are currently being procured and will be used to collect refuse in the central business district and some residential areas.
“We have received funding from Treasury for us to buy refuse compactors. These are two refuse trucks and a tipper. We have decided to procure only these because we are not permanently taking over and we will be providing the service for a short-term period. We are coming to relieve pressure in areas such as the Chinhoyi Street bus terminus (Copacabana), Mbare Musika, Market Square bus terminus, Montagu and residential areas,” he said.
“EMA will start to provide the service once we get the trucks. We have done all the processes and are now waiting for payment and delivery of the refuse compactors.”
The envisaged SI, he said, will enable EMA to bill and garnish council for services provided by private contractors.
“The private contractors will be hired once we have the SI, because without the powers to garnish local authorities, we will not be able to pay the private contractors,” he added.
“As EMA, we have noted certain weaknesses in local authorities and through the guidance of the Minister of Environment (Climate, Tourism and Hospitality), we are casting a standalone solid waste management statutory instrument.
“The SI is going to be tight and will ensure that local authorities ring-fence the revenue they get from residents, and must be used for waste management.”
The SI will also focus on solid waste separation at points of collection.
“This will remove pressure on the responsible authorities because, currently, their modes of solid management are old and archaic.
“It is just collection, transportation and disposal. In between, there must be recycling, remanufacturing and reusing so that what we then take to the disposal site is minimal.”
Harare acting town clerk Engineer Phakamile Moyo said he had not been informed about the issue but admitted the city is facing refuse collection challenges due to shortages of refuse trucks.
“I have not been informed yet,” he said.
“We have an old fleet of 45 trucks. However, 20 to 22 trucks (servicing 46 wards) are on the road, with the rest having mechanical problems. We are in the process of procuring more trucks. We received five trucks last year and we are expecting 10 later from that same order. In total, we expect to receive 20 trucks this year.”
Section 133 of the Environmental Management Act Chapter 20:27 gives power to the agency to intervene on environmental issues.
“The Minister may, by statutory instrument, assign to any local authority any functions assigned in this Act to another authority for the purpose of managing the environment within its area of jurisdiction,” it reads in part.
“The Minister, on the recommendation of the agency and in consultation with the Minister responsible for finance, shall determine (a) such fiscal, economic or social incentives as are necessary for promoting the protection and management of the environment and the conservation and sustainable utilisation of natural resources.”
Uncollected refuse has become an eyesore in Harare.
Heaps of garbage have been piling up in areas such as the Chinhoyi Street bus terminus; Market Square bus terminus; Leopold Takawira Street; and Bank Street, near Bata, in Harare.
Residential areas have also not been spared.
According to a United Nations Habitant survey conducted in 2021 titled the “Waste Wise Cities Tool”, Harare generates 762 tonnes of refuse daily but only 27 percent is collected and 2 percent managed in controlled facilities, leaving the rest to flow into water bodies or remain on the streets.
The survey further says 373 tonnes of the waste can be recycled.