Move to involve law enforcers in garbage collection in Karachi

Published October 4, 2021
Garbage lies next to an unemptied bin on Abdullah Haroon Road on Saturday night. (Right) An old woman is looking for something reusable in garbage dumped near Ayesha Manzil in Federal B Area on Sunday morning. — Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
Garbage lies next to an unemptied bin on Abdullah Haroon Road on Saturday night. (Right) An old woman is looking for something reusable in garbage dumped near Ayesha Manzil in Federal B Area on Sunday morning. — Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: While the door-to-door collection of garbage is the responsibility of the firms assigned waste management in the city by the Sindh Solid Waste Management Board (SSWMB), a ‘garbage mafia’ has been fleecing people by charging them hefty amounts for collecting garbage from their houses.

Informed sources told Dawn on Saturday that the SSWMB had recently sought help of police and Rangers to ensure door-to-door collection of garbage in the city, especially in the posh and salubrious parts, by the contracting firms as their sanitary workers were being resisted by the ‘garbage mafia’, who not only charge hefty amounts from the residents, but also sell the recyclable material after segregation, thus causing losses to the foreign firms assigned solid waste management.

They said that the informal sector involved in door-to-door garbage collection mainly comprised Afghan children, who collected garbage in different localities, including Clifton, Gulshan-i-Iqbal, Bahadurabad, Sindhi Muslim Housing Society, PECHS, Saddar and University Road, and then shifted to makeshift dens where they segregate the recyclable waste, mainly metal, plastic, furniture and paper.

SSWMB says trash collection in district East stands at 45pc

The sources said that the ‘garbage mafia’ had set up their dens in the nearby shantytowns in and around the localities of high- and middle-income groups and was charging different amounts from the residents for door-to-door collection of garbage ranging from Rs100 to Rs1,200.

UC officials involved in informal collection

An official of the SSWMB, who did not wish to be named, told Dawn that several secretaries of the union committees were also involved in this racket.

“The contracting firms’ staffs face extreme resistance by Afghan children and their contractors, sometime violence, in collection of garbage from houses,” he added.

He said that the garbage mafia was not only fleecing money from the residents, but also illegally depriving the contracting firms of their legitimate right on the recyclable waste, which they planned for production of renewable energy and bio-fertiliser.

The official said that the ‘garbage mafia’ usually threw the garbage on streets and illegal garbage dens after segregating recyclable material. “Some time they threw the garbage in drains,” he added.

The SSWMB has signed separate agreements of solid waste management operation with Chinese and Spanish firms for lifting and dumping the garbage from the city.

Under the agreement the Chinese firm would install a 40-MW waste-to-energy plant and also establish another plant to produce solid waste management related machinery in Karachi.

Garbage lies next to an unemptied bin on Abdullah Haroon Road on Saturday night. (Right) An old woman is looking for something reusable in garbage dumped near Ayesha Manzil in Federal B Area on Sunday morning.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
Garbage lies next to an unemptied bin on Abdullah Haroon Road on Saturday night. (Right) An old woman is looking for something reusable in garbage dumped near Ayesha Manzil in Federal B Area on Sunday morning.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

200MW can be generated from Karachi garbage

SSWMB Managing Director Zubair Channa told Dawn that all-out efforts were being made for door-to-door collection of garbage for the past three months, adding that the garbage was being collected from the houses in over 80 out of total 205 union committees. “There will be 100 per cent door-to-door collection of garbage by December,” he added.

Mr Channa said that there was 80 per cent door-to-door garbage collection in district Keamari and 45pc in district East.

“The contracting firms have been asked to arrange more small vehicles for door-to-door collection,” he added.

To a question, he said that a policy was being formulated for renewable energy — power, fertiliser, gas and refined dried fuel (RDF) — and it would be placed before the provincial cabinet for approval.

He said that the garbage generated in Karachi had potential to produce 200 MW.

“Two companies have submitted their respective proposal for installing 20 MW and 35 MW plants, respectively,” he said and added that the open bids for the power plants would be invited after the formulation of the policy.

Published in Dawn, October 4th, 2021

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