Rusape hitchhikers' bin fires slow clean-up efforts

RUSAPE - Hitchhikers are frustrating Rusape’s clean-up efforts by destroying bins along the Mutare-Harare highway by setting bonfires in them to keep warm at night, a senior council official has charged.

Gladys Mushati, who heads the town’s environment department, told journalists during a tour of the city that hitchhikers along the busy Mutare-Harare highway were damaging bins.

“Bins we set up along the highway are being quickly destroyed by travellers who make fire in them to keep warm at night, drastically reducing their life span to a few weeks instead of about six months,” Mushati said.

She said council is replacing them through the support of businesses and churches. The bins have been installed within a 50-metre radius throughout the small town.

The town has been working on a clean-up campaign since 2012. This has seen it drastically reduce diarrhoeal cases as it has also moved its dumpsite further from residential stands and improved its refuse collection efforts.

“We previously had health challenges as we once had a suspected typhoid case, always battled diarrhoeal cases which have now been sharply reduced to negligible cases.

“The town had no street bins and a few business premises had no proper refuse receptacles while waste that was generated at household level was dumped on open spaces within residential areas . . . the collected refuse was also disposed at a dumpsite which was less than 100 metres from residential areas as well as Rusape River,” director of housing and community services Lawrence Mushayabasa said, adding the dumpsite was itself illegal and was posing a public health nuisances in the form of odours and flies to the nearby residents.

“We have since decommissioned the Vengere dumpsite and a new dumpsite was set up in Tsanzaguru. We also managed to acquire a refuse compactor in 2015 for speedy refuse collection as we previously used tractors and this has now increased our collection efficiency rate to 80 percent,” Mushayabasa said.

He said council has also reduced illegal waste disposal through community health clubs whose members were often contracted to pick up litter in town.

Vending is still posing a challenge, littering the town, Mushayabasa said.

“Illegal vendors are contributing to littering especially in town and along the highway. We continue to engage and educate them to place litter in appropriate places,” he said.

The local authority, however, still does not have an incinerator for the destruction of hazardous substances.

“We are encouraging institutions that generate such waste to transport it to Rusape General Hospital which itself however does not have a proper facility,” Mushayabasa said.

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