Effectivenesss of garbage collection by private companies: a case study of Lusaka
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For many years, garbage collection services in Lusaka have been inadequate for a large city. In Lusaka, only, an estimated 15 per cent, of the municipal solid waste generated, is collected, resulting in a build-up of waste in open spaces and along streets in or around the city, (UN-HABITAT, 2007: 14). In order for the citizens to have affordable waste management services, the Lusaka City Council implemented the new waste management system through the Waste Management Unit of the council in partnership with the private sector. This arrangement is being implemented through the Public Private Partnership in waste management. Public-Private Partnerships are arrangements between the government and the private sector entities for the purpose of providing public infrastructure, community facilities and related services including garbage collection. Such partnerships are characterized by the sharing of investment, risk and reward between partners. The purpose of the study was to examine the effectiveness of private companies involved in garbage collection in Lusaka city. The objectives of the study were to: analyse the policy guidelines related to the operations of private companies in garbage collection; describe the processes involved in the disposal of garbage by the private companies in Lusaka and assess the performance of the private companies which collect garbage in Lusaka. A case study research design was employed, using a mixed method approach to conduct this research. The sample size was 200; comprising of four key informants from the Ministry of Local Government and Housing, six from the Lusaka City Council (Waste Management Unit) and nine officials from three garbage collection private companies (Catrone, Citimop and Clean Fast) and 181 members of the public from four Waste Management Districts in Lusaka city. To obtain insight, questionnaires were administered and interviews were conducted with both service providers and residents using purposive sampling and systematic sampling. The findings established that the process of garbage disposal by the two private companies began with the registration and licensing of the company to collect the garbage. This involved bidding through newspaper tenders and conducting capacity assessment to ensure that the private company had the recommended machinery and equipment. The most cardinal equipment were the three recommended vehicles namely; a tipper truck, compactor and a skip truck. However, the guidelines were not always followed by the two private companies and the company that did not adhere to the laid down policies risked its contract terminated. The findings revealed that monitoring by the municipal authorities was conducted once a month and not on a daily basis and this lead to the mushrooming of illegal collectors in the Waste Management Districts. The performance of the existing registered private companies was rated good. However, the study revealed that 53 of the respondents representing 58 per cent had little or no knowledge of the policy guidelines guiding the operations of the private companies because no proper communication and education was provided to them. However, 16 individuals representing 18 per cent who knew about the policy guidelines together with the key informants confirmed that there were several policy guidelines guiding the operations of the private companies collecting waste. These guidelines included the collecting of waste at least once a week, having a formal contract to do the collection and providing waste collection bags to the various households. The results established that two of the companies had adequate transportation systems and on average, used open trucks to transport the garbage as opposed to the derisory small vans that would result in spilling of waste in transit. The results obtained showed that the communication between the company and the clients was adequate as the majority of the respondents reported that they had adequate communication in cases of delays. Similarly, the staff at the garbage collecting companies were generally found to be wearing protective clothing during the collection of garbage. The results further revealed that the residents of the Waste Management districts were not provided with receptacles to store their garbage which is contrary to the regulations and policies which were in place. The study recommended that the Ministry of Local Government and Housing should: (i) Involve the private sector, the general public and the municipal councils in the disposal process by informing and educating the general public on the existing policies on waste management as this would be a big step to achieving sustainable waste management. (ii) Improve the organisational capacity of the authorities (municipal council). This would enhance adequate monitoring, support and supervision in the process of garbage collection and disposal thereby curbing illegal garbage collectors. (iii) Lusaka City Council- Waste Management Unit should review the terms of the contracts and allow the private companies to prosecute defaulting clients. (iv) the Ministry should identify materials that could be recycled and also educate the households on the importance of reusing, recycling and reducing packaging to avoid the high rate of unnecessary waste generation. (v) Summarise and simplify the laws and regulations as well as other policies that regulate waste management by making them available to all the citizens so as to have an informed citizenry.
The University of Zambia