Vol. 4 Num 76 Mon. August 11, 2003  
Star City

Some of the issues of concern
City's open garbage an embarrassment for DCC

One of the basic criteria of cleanliness in any urban habitat depends on the effective disposal of the huge amounts of garbage produced by 'modern living standards.' Left to rot on streets, or clog drains and waterways, organic and inorganic waste pollutes the air and water and fast becomes a major cause for the spread of disease.

"We were in Malayasia for 15 days. The air is so clean and fresh it was a pleasure to breathe. But as soon as we landed in Bangladesh my four year-old daughter started to sneeze due to the polluted air of Dhaka", said Raihan of Purana Paltan.

Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) has failed to cope effectively with approximately 4000 tons of waste produced by the city's inhabitants everyday. There are allegations that mismanagement and corruption among DCC employees are major obstacles for the effective execution and enforcement of decisions.

Recently DCC was forced to change a decision to transfer 250 transport employees to the ailing conservancy department to aid garbage collection and disposal and to curb the pilferage of fuel, which was common among transport workers. On hearing the decision, the transport employees immediately went on strike, while some union members ransacked the chief conservator's office (CCO) who would be responsible for curbing pilferage after the transfer.

Through fuel pilferage DCC is not only losing money but also failing in its waste management duties. Garbage truck drivers were habitually making fewer trips than required to collect waste from secondary dumping sites of the city to the only dumping ground at Matuail.

To deal with the corruption problem of the employees DCC has also tried privatising waste disposal. Eight wards of the city have been handed over to private and non-government organisations on a pilot basis.

Community based waste management systems are also gaining ground due to the poor performance of DCC.

"The open garbage system of the city corporation is spreading filthy odours and disease within the city," said a community garbage collector. "Which is why we have decided to take matters into our own hands."

Photo: Alasdair Macdonald