Cash strapped Bulawayo council rejects private waste removal proposal

The Bulawayo City Council has rejected a proposal to hire a private waste removal company to deal with mounting piles of rubbish across the city, because of a serious lack of money.

The council was reported to being going ahead with plans to hire the private firm on a short term basis, to help deal with the removal of waste in the eastern part of the city. According to an article published on Sunday by The Standard newspaper, which quoted a council report, Waste Management Services was awarded a 12-month contract.

“Waste Management Services would be given eastern areas to collect refuse and council will concentrate on high-density suburbs and all commercial and industrial areas including the central business district (CBD),” The Standard reported, quoting the council report.

But SW Radio Africa’s Bulawayo correspondent Lionel Saungweme spoke to members of the council this week, who said that the proposal to use the private company has been rejected.

“It emerged that just two payments to the private company would equal the cost of a new rubbish compactor for the city. So basically the proposal was shot down during an open council meeting,” Saungweme said.

Saungweme explained that the council is in deep financial trouble and was forced to borrow over US$2 million from Kingdom Bank for salary advances. He added that the council owes millions of dollars in unpaid wages and bonuses to staff, who protested outside the council’s offices last week.

“This is a problem that started long before the Global Political Agreement was even signed, because of the general economic meltdown. The previous government didn’t ratify the council budgets for a number of years and now they are trying to recover,” Saungweme said.

On the waste collection issues, Saungweme explained that the council’s proposal to have a private firm involved was an attempt “to deal with a crisis situation.”

“We are now at a point where it’s a health hazard because of all the rubbish everywhere. So it is quite urgent that the council gets on top of it. They’ve indicated that they plan to deal with it internally,” Saungweme said. – SW Radio Africa News

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