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Why Kampala garbage problem is not about to end

By Vision Reporter

Added 31st January 2007 03:00 AM

GARBAGE collection may seem an unpleasant job to many, but those who know the rewards of dealing in it have reason to fight on.

GARBAGE collection may seem an unpleasant job to many, but those who know the rewards of dealing in it have reason to fight on.

By Florence Nakaayi
GARBAGE collection may seem an unpleasant job to many, but those who know the rewards of dealing in it have reason to fight on.

Controversy has gripped Kampala City Council (KCC) over the collection and disposal of garbage, causing a rift among division leaders, councillors and companies collecting garbage.

Kampala Mayor Nasser Sebaggala recently said he would take over the cleaning of the city and garbage collection for a year, in preparation for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in November.

“It is the responsibility of the divisions to collect garbage, but they have failed, yet people expect me to deliver. I am taking over garbage collection until the end of CHOGM,” he says.

Kampala district produces 1,560 tonnes of garbage daily. Sebaggala revealed that Escom, a company formed by his supporters, will be in charge of cleaning the city at sh25m a month.

According to him, firms which had been contracted by the divisions to collect garbage do not have the capacity to handle the workload.

However, Kawempe and Kampala central divisions had already contracted companies to offer the service. These are Hilltop and Norema for Kawempe and Nabugabo Updeal Joint venture, Bison, Kisenyi III and Nusonic for the central division.

Godfrey Nyakaana, the central division chairman and his Kawempe counterpart, Nasser Takuba are opposed to Sebaggala’s move. Rubaga, Makindye and Nakawa divisions, which manage their own garbage collection, say the mayor has not yet contacted them about the idea.

“We need a streamlined arrangement with Escom if they are to work in our area. I have not received any official communication from the mayor,” says Nakawa division chairman Protazio Kintu.

“The district cannot take over the service without our consent. We have a duty according to the Local Government Act.”

Takuba says: “We allowed Escom to work in eight of the 19 parishes in our division, but they want the entire area.”

“If Sebaggala wants to succeed with this plan, he should consult us. The law is clear on this. Garbage collection is under the jurisdiction of the divisions,” Nyakaana says.

Rubaga division chairperson, Winnie Makumbi, says they have engaged Escom to clean their area at sh36m a month, while the chairman of Makindye division, Moses Kalungi, says they do not have any trouble with the company.

Clause 13(b) of the Local Government Act mandates the chairpersons to monitor the administration of the district.

“We do not just monitor and sit back, we have to implement policies. All these are aimed at one goal: A clean city,” says deputy mayor Florence Namayanja.

The deputy Town Clerk, William Tumwine, supports Sebaggala’s move. “The mayor is right because he wants to fulfill his manifesto.” On the otherhand, he added: “The division chairpersons have to fulfill their statutory duties. Where there is a lot of interest and politics, conflict is normal. But we shall iron out these misunderstandings and have a common strategy.”

A number of legal officers concur with Nyakaana although they agree that the divisions have failed in the planning, supervision and cleaning of their areas.

A former president of the Uganda Law Society, Andrew Kasirye, says: “Garbage collection is a primary function of the divisions. I do not think the mayor can just give orders on this.

“The mayor may be acting in good faith, but his approach should be more systematic. He is justified in wanting to intervene, but the method is wrong,” Kasirye says.

Another city advocate, Yusufu Nsibambi, advised KCC to reach a common understanding with the division leaders.

Kampala central Member of Parliament Erias Lukwago says all leaders, including the MPs, have a duty to supervise activities in their areas.

“If the mayor comes in that spirit, they should work hand-in-hand with him to avoid controversy. It is their duty to develop the city,” he says.

However, city dwellers are of the view that garbage collection has been politicised.

One businessman says: “Sebaggala is trying to impose a political solution on a technical problem. There are companies which have been doing the job. He should look at their challenges and help them fill the gap, instead of engaging another company.”

Henry Kibirige, a resident of Namuwongo, says: “KCC at one time failed to manage garbage collection and privatised the service. Taking up the service will be a temporary fix. It will fail in the long-run.”

All Robert Muwonge of Mengo wants is a clean city. But this may not be possible if people do not change their habits of poor garbage disposal, he says.

A city councillor says Sebaggala and Nyakaana promised jobs to their supporters, who campaigned for them. “They have failed to agree because of personal interests,” the councillor says.

Why Kampala garbage problem is not about to end

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