Mayors need to show more progress on green pledges
23 August 2015, Nirapad News: Nearly four months have passed since elections for new mayors and city corporations in Chittagong and Dhaka.
While nobody expects miracles during their first 100 days, and many challenges require long-term strategic planning, the public deserves and needs to start seeing tangible improvements in the day to day management of public services.
This applies especially to the most basic city services of waste management and recycling. These have suffered from years of chronic mismanagement and neglect, and cause an enormous amount of blight and public nuisance.
With a growing economy generating ever higher amounts of waste, Dhaka’s Integrated Municipal Solid Waste Plan is lagging far behind the capital’s needs.
A lot of waste is not even properly collected in the first place. Even where household and office waste is regularly collected, the dysfunctional state of collection services daily sees noxious and often toxic materials tipped out onto major roads, for informal sorting.
There is little evidence that this is improving either collection or recycling rates. It also fails to pay sufficient attention to safely removing hazardous substances out of the environment.
The mayors have a duty to transform this dire state of affairs. There is no shortage of labour and expertise to make a city-wide waste and recycling service work properly.
What is needed is leadership.
The mayors and city corporations urgently need to make sure proper sites and centres are set up to enable sorting and recycling to take place safely and without causing public nuisance.
Authorities should also educate businesses and residents to take more responsibility, to help make waste become better managed. Growing recycling rates can not only help to clean the streets, but also generate more funds to support the livelihoods of waste pickers and recyclers.
Community-based recycling schemes should be rolled out city-wide, so more household waste is processed responsibly at source. Experience shows well-managed schemes are highly cost-effective and not only boost recycling rates, with residents taking more care to help pre-sort materials and to re-use organic waste as compost, but also make people less likely to litter in other areas.
There is no excuse for not placing more priority on improving this most essential of core city services.