Cash-strapped Bulawayo stops refuse collection

Bulawayo council, plunged into a deep financial crisis by a government directive to scrap debts owed by residents, says it has run out of money to collect rubbish, sparking fears of a disease outbreak.

Middleton Nyoni
Middleton Nyoni

Bulawayo lost $46m after the government’s election campaign promise to write off debts. Since July, the city has struggled to pay salaries and pay its debts for essential services it receives from other suppliers.

Last week, the council publicly notified its residents of the crisis, saying most low-density areas and some former townships would be most affected.

“Council sincerely regrets to announce that there is an interruption in the refuse removal service in the low-density and parts of the high-density suburbs until further notice,” said Middleton Nyoni, the town clerk.

Nyoni advised residents to keep uncollected rubbish in their yards instead of dumping it.

Already heaps of refuse have accumulated in most open spaces around Pumula, Sizinda and Nketa. “The situation is now sliding back to the pre-inclusive government situation where garbage went for several months without collection,” said Gift Moyo, a Pumula resident.

“Before directing councils to scrap the bills, the government should have first of all put mechanisms in place to curb such eventualities,” said Emmanuel Ndlovu, the programmes manager at the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association. “We thought we had passed the era of uncollected refuse.’ Bulawayo has 13 refuse trucks, out of a normal fleet of 21.

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