With Madiba Singhateh
In this week’s edition of the Environment Column, we will talk about waste management most especially within the Kanifing Municipality.
Readers can recall that recently, the KMC introduced twenty new Garbage trucks earmarked for the Municipality’s ‘‘Mbalit’’ project for daily waste collection within the nineteen Wards of the Municipality.
As the second largest Municipality after the West Coast Region and with a dense population of over 300,000 inhabitants, makes it difficult for past Municipal administrations to make a difference in waste management within the Municipality. As at now, all waste collected within the municipality is dumped at the Bakoteh Dumpsite which is also located within the KM, and the inhabitants surrounding the dumpsite continue to cry for its relocation.
In March 2017, the community staged protests that led to the closure of the Bakoteh dumpsite for three months.
The new administration under the dispensation of the New Mayor Talib Bensouda, has introduced garbage collection trucks which can be described as the first of its kind within the Municipality. The new trucks are designated to collect the waste of the entire Municipality’s Wards with of course some cost attached to this service.
Waste management and sorting out of waste is also another concern. Hence the Municipal Council has a plan of generating electricity from the waste generated. However, this is only possible when waste is sorted out properly.
Lamin Dibba, the Bakau Cape Point Ward Councilor and Chairperson of the Environmental and Sanitation committee at the KMC, said the ‘‘Mbalit’’ project is one of the greatest projects Council has embarked on for the past twenty five years; that as New Councilors, they already know that waste is the Municipality’s biggest challenge. Dibba said it is because of waste that some areas of the Municipality are flooded during the rainy season; that the floods happen because of people’s attitude of throwing waste in drainages and other waterways.
Dibba said with the ‘‘Mbalit’’ project, there will be house to house collection to collect waste within the Municipality instead of people throwing waste in wetlands, waterways or in their backyards. ‘‘If the people see the trucks on their doorstep, they will have confidence and will be willing to pay their rates,’’ he said; that the project will further minimize their work and will create employment for young people who will be selling tickets to those who want their waste to be collected and transported.
Dibba said the tickets in the seven wards will be sold every day before the arrival of the trucks.
Regarding the Bakoteh dumpsite, Dibba said there is plan for its relocation and this will be a joint venture between the KMC, BCC and the Brikama Area Council.
‘‘We already have a land fill where the Bakoteh dumpsite will be transferred to,’’ he said; that transferring the site is not an easy process that people think should happen immediately. On the transformation of waste to energy, Dibba said such a project needs waste sorting equipment; that in the Gambia people do not normally sort their waste.
‘‘Mbalit’’ Project Director Bakary Singhate said the project started when the new Mayor and his team had complaints from the electorate that waste management is the main concern of the Municipal Council; that they complained of the growing problem of household waste which has persisted for decades without any permanent solution to end this; that ‘‘Mbalit’’ project is a fulfilment to that promise the Mayor made to the electorate. He said a nominal fee will be levied on every waste collected from every household, to cover the maintenance cost of the trucks.
Singhate said garbage collection will be carried out zone by zone, five days of the week; that this means all the Wards will be catered for at any given time.
He said tickets are sold for 10 dalasi for each 50 kilo bag containers and bins will be for 20 dalasi; that this is far cheaper than the private sector who charge 400 dalasi for every waste collected; that donkey carts owners charge 15 dalasi.
Singhate concludes that the project will prevent people from illegal dumping and will also prevent the dumping of sand and metal in waste bins; that Council’s next project is to supply people with bins to help them sort their waste.