Juba is being choked by garbage as Philling Environmental, the company contracted to collect waste, suspended its operations last month, citing poor roads, high cost and ‘prolonged procedures’.
Residents are growing increasingly frustrated with the growing garbage heaps and stench in the world’s newest capital. Plastic containers, cans, polythene bags and human waste that have not been collected for months litter markets, residential areas, open spaces and roadsides.
Traders and residents have voiced their concerns over the poor waste management and called on the city authorities to remove the garbage.
They complain that as the mounds grow bigger, the stench becomes stronger and the flies become more numerous, exposing them to diseases, especially during the rainy season.
Growing hills of garbage are a common sight in the residential areas and streets of Juba, as hundreds of tons of waste are generated every day in the different corners of the city.
Due to lack of garbage collection services, most people have decided to use road sides, open spaces, football fields and even grave yards as alternative dumping sites.
Some have resorted to burning waste but end up polluting the air with dark plumes of smoke.
Most people ‘The New Nation’ spoke to, blamed the authorities and the garbage collection companies for not doing enough to get rid of the waste.
“This container erected here does not help because management is poor. There are no vehicles coming to collect the garbage,” said Jackson Nichonora, a teacher at Buluk A Basic School.
The air around the teachers’ staff room was filled with a pungent smell. The football field at the school was littered with human feaces, buvera, and plastic bottles.
Nichonora said people living near government buildings ferry waste at night and dump it near the school compound.
“We see a lot of waste accumulating every day and feaces being dropped everywhere.
This is not good. When it rains, this waste spreads a bad smell and might affect the children.”
A charcoal seller at Suk Gem, who declined to be named, said the garbage at their market has not been collected since November 2011.
“People keep piling the waste and burn it themselves,” she said.
Philling Environmental, the company contracted to collect waste in the city, issues a notice in January, informing the public it was suspending its services from February 1, citing ‘prolonged procedures’.
“Prolonging procedures with regard to the Juba city waste collection programme has prevented the company from continuing the public works,” the notice read.
However, when contacted, a senior official said they had stopped collecting the waste because of the poor roads leading to garbage collection points and dumping sites.
“We have been coping with the waste management but unfortunately we have reached a situation where we can no longer afford it”, said Greg Klein, the company’s finance and administration manager.
Klein added that although the public had been supportive by taking waste to designated collection points, high costs were forcing them to leave.
Juba deputy mayor David Lokonga said the solid waste was too much to manage, adding that the council and payams did not have enough resources to pay for it.
“The city council is responsible for garbage management. We implemented a project before independence, together with the Ministry of Health. When the money got finished, the ministry dismissed all the staff,” he said.
He added that as a result, the responsibility had been transferred to the payams.
“Now the payams are responsible for waste management. However, they have few vehicles and rely on the hire of vehicles. One trip to the dumping site costs 500 SSP.” He explained that because of the long distance and the cost involved, the garbage is now dumped in a place nearer to the city, on the road to Yei though they have a lagoon deeper from the main road.
He also announced they were negotiating with another company, Southern Express, to manage waste in the city but the company lack capacity.
On his part, the Juba town payam director, John Kenyi said Juba lacked companies with sufficient capacity.
”We don’t have enough companies dealing in garbage collection in Juba town,” Kenyi said. “We signed a contract with Southern Express but it has no capacity, thus forcing us to hire vehicles at high rates to carry garbage to the dumping site.”
Meanwhile, The New Nation learnt that money allocated in August by the Government of South Sudan to keep Juba clean has not reached the city’s accounts.
“The Council (of Ministers) approves the amount of SSP 5,000,000 for the Office of the Mayor of Juba to help it keep Juba clean,” a resolution, dated August 28, read.
But according to the deputy mayor, the money has not been received by the city council authorities. He said they were following up on it.
The ministers of finance and health could not be reached for comment while the environment ministry said it had no knowledge of the money approved.
The deputy Minister of Environment, Philip Palet, also lamented on the poor waste management, warning that garbage dumped along the Yei road risks being carried away by the rivers, poisoning the water bodies.
He called for fencing the dumping sites as to prevent people from collecting toxic waste or leftovers from food. He also called for treating the waste. “We propose the best way is to treat the waste and recycle some of it, such as plastic. This can be done with the assistance
of neighbouring countries.”
The main problem, he said, was lack of awareness in South Sudan about the need
to protect the environment.
“People think nature does not belong to them. Our efforts as a ministry to create
awareness are hampered by the low literacy rates and the fact that no environmental
law has been enacted yet.”