Firms rescue troubled municipalities

HARARE - Clad in white caps, face masks, matching T-shirts and armed with brooms and black plastic bags, business executives are increasingly making their presence felt on the streets through clean-up campaigns.

This comes at a time when Zimbabwe is facing a challenge in waste management, particularly the urban centres and growth points due to a rapid urban population increase, housing shortages and mushrooming of vendors as well as low stakeholder participation.

With most of the country’s urban councils bankrupt and teetering on the brink of collapse, after being ordered to write off arrears owed by ratepayers in a desperate bid to drum up support for Zanu PF in the run-up to the 2013 elections, service delivery has gone down the drain.

Investigations by the Daily News on Sunday revealed that 10 of the country’s 32 urban councils are being owed in excess of $900 million — a situation that has seriously affected councils’ ability to provide services such as water and sewer reticulation, refuse management, road and general infrastructure maintenance.

In an effort to keep Zimbabwe’s cities and towns unpolluted and attractive to foreign direct investment, local companies are taking it upon themselves to provide bins and cleaning up of sanitary lanes and streets in Central Business Districts (CBD).

Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed beverages manufacturer, Delta Corporation (Delta), recently conducted a clean-up exercise at Egodini and Renkini Bus Termini in Bulawayo, as part of efforts to keep the city clean. The company’s corporate affairs manager Tsungai Manyeza said Delta was committed to manage waste spans from the management of waste right through to post-consumer packaging waste.

“The company has over the years established 182 beverage waste collection centres across the country, with Bulawayo being allocated collection cages, which have been adopted by our various recycling partners.

As such, this programme gives small enterprises with interest in beverage waste recycling access to separate beverage waste and they have subsequently realised significant business growth,” she said.

Manyeza added that the clean-up exercise was part of a communication campaign to promote waste separation and encourage recycling and the culture of turning trash to cash.

Not to be outdone, Zimbabwe’s sole fixed telecommunication firm, TelOne, last week donated 500 bins to Harare City Council in an effort to eradicate littering and help the capital achieve its world class city status.

TelOne managing director Chipo Mtasa said supporting the environment was one of her company’s key thematic areas of intervention under its corporate social responsibility.

“Harare’s CBD accommodates about two million visitors daily, thus, we saw it fit to install the TelOne-branded bins using a 50 meter-interval formula to serve at least 40 000 pedestrians at every intersection,” she said.

“Contributing more bins to the city is an effort to change mindsets of pedestrians not to litter the streets and become environmentally-responsible citizens,” she added.

The phenomenal rise of unemployment rate in the country, currently estimated at over 85 percent, has seen most people resort to vending in most cities and towns to eke out a living — resulting in increased littering and environmental pollution.

Mtasa noted that TelOne had so far installed 150 bins in the capital with the remaining 350 expected to be mounted before the end of the month. The government-owned telecommunications company will also be spreading the programme to other cities such as Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare, Masvingo and Victoria Falls before the end of the year.

The parastatal, which is recycling oil drums and poles recovered from its operations to make the bins, also spent the best part of yesterday in a clean-up campaign across in the CBD.

Acting Harare town clerk Josephine Ncube said the local authority was also seeking contributions in other areas that include water and sanitation, urban renewal, that is, the consistent upgrading of its facilities to match world standards.

“We are confident that with this gesture from TelOne, other like-minded and socially-responsible entities will come on board and help build the Harare we all want,” she said.

Ncube indicated that Harare was in the process of procuring more refuse trucks to enhance the city’s capacity to enhance service.

“Our current fleet is now old and susceptible to breakdowns hence the delays in suburban collections,” she said, adding that the capital has a vision of becoming a world-class city by 2025.

“We are living in an era where matters of public health are a major concern.

“There are new diseases and viruses threatening the human race and most come from poor waste management and sanitation issues,” Ncube said.

This comes as Zimbabwe has in the past experienced cholera and typhoid outbreaks while Ebola and Zika viruses have ravaged some parts of the world.

Chicken Inn — one of the leading fast foods outlets in the country — is also putting in place several measures to keep the country clean, including placing bins at its food courts dotted around Zimbabwe.

The fast food company, in partnership with Zimbabwe Sunshine Group, went on a highway clean-up campaign of the Harare-Mazowe Road.

“We do not serve a stagnant market only as most of our consumers buy and continue with their journeys, with some of them littering the highways in the process.

“As such, we are tracing our carbon footprint and reducing the amount of waste in highways,” the company said.

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