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Garbage heaps irk citizens; KM blamed for neglect

Mayor acknowledged fuel theft by truck drivers of cleanliness department of KM

Abdul Zuhoor Qayomi-KABUL: Everyday a huge amount of waste is produced in Afghanistan’s capital city, Kabul. As the city lacks trash containers in congested areas and proper waste management system, therefore, these wastes are dumped beside the roads, streets, footpaths and in public places. However, the locals have built an immunity system to tolerate this unbearable situation because they are not complaining or protesting.

That’s why the garbage has become a stinking problem in the capital city. The authorities have turned a blind eye. There is not a single place, except posh areas where the top officials live, that one could visit without seeing the piles of garbage and smelling the order that cause nausea.

Besides the houses, apartments, shops, markets, vegetable bazaars, grocery stores and meat markets, the garbage is pretty much everywhere. In almost all parts of the city, it is piled high in empty logs and on the roadsides. People living or doing business on bank of the Kabul River are putting garbage in the river. The river was once famous for its beauty and purity.

The wastes not only attract scavengers but stray dogs as well. The piles are major source of diseases transmission and blocking of drainages. This is the reason that Kabul presents a scene of a flooded island when it rains. Lives of the residents are at stake but the government is looking at the sky; otherwise, it would have dealt with the problem which does not consume much time and resources.

Health experts believe that garbage and bad smell also cause cancer and other infectious diseases. According to official figures annually 20,000 persons get cancer and 16,000 of them die.

Insufficient number of sweepers and poor facilities with the municipality are the major impediments. However, no action is insight in this regard. Ten years ago the relevant officials termed low capacity of the cleaning department as one of main challenges to keep the city clean, but no steps were taken. For the residents it is not a good excuse because the Kabul Municipality (KM) collects millions of Afghanis in taxes from the citizens against the services—which it barely provides.

Tens of trucks along with a heavy squad of sweepers are at the service of the cleaning department of the municipality. However, there is no decrease in the pile of garbage, scattered in every part of the city. If cleanliness is taken as a condition for a capital city, then Kabul city will lose its status because the city presents a disheartening scene.

Even in one kilometer radius of the municipality’s cleaning department there is a market in Parwan-e-She area where huge pile of trash dominates scene.

Officials concerned have pledged several times to hire services of a private company to keep the city clean and recycling the garbage recycled, however, not practical steps have been taken so far. Embezzlement and corruption in Kabul Municipality have been considered as responsible for the neglect in cleaning services in the capital city. Oil embezzlement by drivers has been reported in media. Instead of carrying out their responsibilities in dutiful manner, officials of the Kabul Municipality blamed citizens for non-cooperation. The officials said they cannot clean the 4700 tones garbage produced on daily basis with 3700 personnel. “This is near to impossibility to clean up the city of a five –million population,” they said.

Former Kabul mayor Muhammad Yonus Nawandesh was summoning by senate in 2013 where said revenues of Kabul Municipality has surged to $90 million from $30 million.

The Ministry of Public Health said that around 3000 containers have been installed in different parts of the city for garbage, which is being collected and buried in the Gazak, a 30- kilometer area on the outskirt of the capital. “Yet still we face challenges as containers proved ineffective because there has been a steadiest increase in garbage,” he said. Citizens complain that heaps are garbage were mounting in almost all parts of the city. Heaps of garbage in premises of Parwan-e-sih square and market square besides are a constant cause of annoyance to the residents this part of the city. A resident of Parwan-e-sih, Abdul Majeed said the heaps of garbage have been frustrating the dwellers of the area. “Kabul Municipality must take some stronger measures keep the city clean because the municipality has been collecting taxes for this purpose,” he said.

Abdullah, a residence of Sahra-e-Shamali, northern part of the capital, said that heaps of garbage are seen along main roads. “The stinking smell by the heaps of garbage is highly annoying particularly when you eat,” he said. “I usually get cold and flu by the smell emitted by the garbage,” he said. “We have been paying for cleanliness services while Kabul Municipality is unconcerned,” he lamented.

Akhtar Muhammad a residence of sixth district said that garbage heaps are seen by the sides of the roads. “Packs of stray dogs are also seen busy in searching for stale foods thrown on the heaps. The garbage has turned the face of the city ugly while concerned departments have no concern”, he said. Reportedly drivers of KM steal 40 liters of oil on daily basis.

An employer who did not want his name to be published said that he sought jobs as a driver in the cleaning department of Kabul Municipality. Soon after applying for the job I found the salary was low and the drivers used to steal. “I did not want to earn money through stealing the fuels,” he said.

“Most of the truck drivers steal 40 liters of fuel from the trucks of cleaning department,” he said. Mayor of Kabul Abdul Ahad Wahid in an interview to Afghanistan Times vowed garbage will be collected from many areas in the capital. He vowed the city will be cleaned within one week in a campaign by the 302 private sectors and Kabul Municipality trucks. However, he acknowledged the theft of fuels by truck drivers. He added that GPS system has been introduced to keep a tab on truck drivers in order to prevent fuel theft. He said that garbage are piling up in parts of the city because many drivers have left their jobs after GPS system was introduced. “The drivers used to submit forged reports of their duty,” he said. The mayor added that 35 to 37 percent of the fuels were stolen by the drivers. “Lack of cooperation by public, sparse personnel, population explosion, and some other challenges made it difficult to keep the entire city clean,” he said. He said that citizens unload construction materials and tires on drainages and streets and roads, which obstructs cleaning services. “Kabul Municipality collects 4500 tons of garbage from the capital on daily basis,” he said.

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