Buffalo City Metro’s waste department is operating on less that half the number of trucks it should have to collect refuse from around the city.
In reply to questions sent by the Dispatch last week BCM spokeswoman Bathandwa Diamond said: “The solid waste management coastal region has a total of 26 refuse compactor trucks, of which only 10 are operational and the rest have had breakdowns and are at the workshop for repairs.
The trucks were more than 10 years old and “hence the constant breakdowns”, she added.
“However, in order to address this challenge the city is in the process of procuring 20 brand new trucks, which are anticipated to be delivered before the end of this financial year.”
Diamond said in line with waste collection standards, refuse is collected around the city once a week and deposited at the Round Hill regional landfill site in Berlin.
She added that street sweeping was done daily in the CBD, on main roads, the entrances and exits to the city and when “the need arises” in the residential areas.
However Eric Moss, manager at Kennaway Court, said the residential hotel’s garbage, which is supposed to be collected twice a week, had not been collected in two weeks.
Showing the Daily Dispatch an overflowing skip full of black bags, Moss said that when he had phoned BCM he was told there was a backlog but that they would come and collect the trash.
“They promised to come but never did. I phoned them again this morning [Monday] and have not heard back yet.
“In the past four months there has been a point where I have had to get a private company to come remove the bags. Apart from the stench it is also costing us money as we have to buy extra bags to put the old bags in.
“We also have to buy liquids to mask the smell. There are strong winds here which sometimes blow open our bags and cause litter to fly around. It’s completely unhygienic.”
Southernwood faces much the same problem.
Southernwood ward councillor Pindle Miza said: “This [refuse collection] is a very serious problem that affects both Southernwood and Belgravia under ward 3. With a ward that has an abnormally high population it becomes a problem, in particular when bylaws are not adhered to by residents and property owners and when there is no area plan in place to clean and collect refuse.”
Miza said that refuse was “unfortunately not” collected on a regular basis. “Due to a number of operational challenges in the responsible department at the municipality, this [regular collection] is unfortunately impossible and a disservice to the community I lead.”
He said he received complaints about non-collection “every day” from Southernwood residents and it was a “serious issue, sharply raised by community members individually and in meetings since the beginning of my term”.
Miza said he contacted BCM “on a daily basis” and received “the same same response of operational problems inside the department”.
Gonubie ward councillor Andre Swart said: “At times when there is a problem with the vehicles they may be a day late but 90% of the time they are on time. When there is a problem I am informed by solid waste and I then let residents know on the Nubians [Facebook] page and the ratepayers page.”
Refuse should be collected in Gonubie on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and in Southernwood from Monday to Friday. Each suburb is split into different areas and days for collection.
A full collection schedule for all East London suburbs can be found at dispatchlive.co.za