LACK of national standards and policies on solid waste management and inadequate monitoring and evaluation of solid waste activities by government have been blamed for the perennial problem of filthiness within Tanzania’s major cities and urban areas.
According to a Performance Audit on the Management of Solid Waste in Big Cities and Regions in Tanzania, a recent report by the Controller and Auditor General’s office, the amount of solid waste not collected by local government authorities is more than 50 percent of the total solid waste generated in the country.
“This is an indication of an increasing problem, since population continues to grow while solid waste management services are dwindling. The uncollected waste pose a potential health hazard to the people. In many occasions they handle the waste inappropriately,”reads part of the report.
It remains true that the problem of solid waste management has been a thorn in the flesh for Tanzania for a long time now and with the looks of things, no solution is in sight for the problem. And, if the report by the Controller and Auditor General's office is to go by, then the problem of filthiness will be part of this country for a long time.
This has seen an international rating company, NYC Partnership Consulting, recently declaring Dar es Salaam as the eighth dirtiest city in the world. This is not surprising as the situation in most urban areas in this country is pathetic as uncollected garbage is not only an eyesore but a health hazard.
All efforts by cities such as Dar es Salaam to maintain cleanliness by removing solid waste from the streets seems to be hitting a brick wall despite various steps taken by the responsible authorities to remove the garbage.
A snap survey conducted by this reporter revealed that the problem of garbage carpeting the streets and inconveniencing residents and passersby in Dar es Salaam is worsening while there are no adequate rubbish bins on the streets. One can walk from corner to corner of a street without coming across a rubbish bin, compelling residents to throw garbage on the streets.
In recent years, many attempts have been made to curb the problem but all efforts have been in vain. The city council having realized that petty traders contribute significantly to pollution in the city, employed city militia to arrest those found selling their wares at un designated areas. This, however, seems to be failing since vendors and the militia play hide and seek games resulting in traders maintaining a heavy presence on our streets.
Last year, the police and the city council teamed up to curb this problem by jointly forming an auxiliary police headed by former police commanders, to enforce city by-laws including fining, 50 000/-, those found throwing garbage onto the streets.
And, early this year, the city council invited companies engaging in garbage recycling to come forward and help the city end this problem by recycling solid waste. But, despite all these efforts no changes are in sight as piles of uncollected garbage continue to maintain a heavy presence on our streets.
Though most cities through out the country are trying by all means to properly manage solid waste, the audit findings by the Controller and Auditor General's office reveal reasons most local government authorities continue to fight losing battles.
The report points out that despite solid waste management activities in Tanzania having a number of regulators who are responsible for providing standards to be followed, policies to be used while working on this field and also governing regulations, local government authorities are groping in darkness as they are operating without standards.
“TBS has not yet developed them (standards) in spite the fact that the Environmental Management Act stipulates that these standards need to be developed. The lack of standards implies that, it is to a larger extent up to each local government authority to decide how to operate,” reads the report.
Another problem stifling the waste management is that there is currently no national solid waste management strategic plan and consequently, the operational system for solid waste management is working without having clear policies and regulations.
The central government has also been blasted for failing to adequately engaging in monitoring and evaluation of solid waste activities in the country.
“The Prime Minister's Office- Regional Administration and Local Government Authorities(PMO-RALG) is not aware at the moment how much solid waste are generated and collected daily in each council in Tanzania. Also, PMO-RALG does not know how these councils are measuring or estimating the amount of solid waste generated and collected since there is no uniform way of estimating and recording SWM data.”
The audit also unearthed that there is poor and varying performance among service providers, rating them as very weak, neither profitable nor efficient and that franchise contractors are left to work alone as much as they can, and it seems that Local Government Authorities (LGAs) are worried to take action against under performing contractors simply because these contractors are weak and there are no better alternative contractors to do the job.
The audited LGAs have not set targets for solid waste to be collected in each ward and the only target set is for the entire council, but at the same time, the service providers (councils and franchisee contractors) are providing solid waste management services in individual wards.
This, according to the audit, has resulted in the fact that service providers are operating without a benchmark which can be used to measure their performance and so becomes very difficult to assess whether the service provider is doing well based on the target set.
The audit also unearthed that inspection and monitoring activities are poorly planned, documented and evaluated as all councils audited were conducting sporadic inspections but there was none with inspection plans, set priorities and clear objectives. Some of the councils said that they conduct daily inspections but there was no information or data to support that.
The audit, however, concluded that generally, the selected LGAs have not efficiently and effectively carried out their solid waste management function through the services rendered by service providers, monitoring of solid waste activities, solid waste fees administration, contracts management between franchise contractors and councils. This was due to failure of the service providers to render their services as expected, inadequate monitoring of the performance of service providers in collection, cleaning and disposal of solid waste, inappropriate management of contracts between franchisee contractors and councils and failure to collect solid waste fees as stipulated in the LGAs by-laws.
The audit which was conducted in LGAs- Arusha Municipal, Mbeya City, Mwanza City, Ilala Municipal, Temeke Municipal and Kinondoni Municipal Councils - was meant to determine whether the solid waste management functions of the selected local government authorities in Tanzania was undertaken in the most efficient and effective manner, giving consideration to services rendered by service providers, monitoring of solid waste activities, solid waste fees administration, contracts management between franchisee contractors and municipality/city council and appropriateness of the central government's monitoring system.