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Joint efforts in financing urban waste collection services

FUNDING waste collection services in our communities is an imperative effort towards making our built environment cleaner and safer.

Through the funnel of time, municipal and private waste collection services have been the prime service bands that wipe out waste materials in our communities, with monthly fees being the sole funding capillary of the service.

Over time and space, waste collection services have not scratched the sanitation surface enough in growing cities such as Mwanza, Dodoma and Dar es Salaam for a start, by average less than 40 percent of waste reaches the disposal centers, leaving more waste piled in streets and other types discarded haphazardly.

Making an aggregate analysis between the collection with the monthly collection fee, it seems forging extra funding mechanisms would reinvigorate urban waste collection services and make our communities sustainable.

Solid waste management in cities within its all reach (collection, transportation and disposal), is the key function within waste management parameters executed by all urban authorities in Tanzania.

It is with accordance with the Local Government Act 1982 section 55(g) and the Environmental Management Act of 2004. The Tanzanian economy has been observed by World Bank to be sustaining a relatively high economic growth over the last decade.

This casts some leeway towards finding the viable measures in financing the urban waste collection services, of which at the moment face a common problem over space/time which is the high operational costs, attributed by poor choice of vehicle and the distance travelled to the disposal site.

During a comprehensive industry insight within waste collection servicesI participated, Green Waste Pro, one of the leading waste collection company in Dar es Salaam, highlighted other factors leading to poor solid waste collection and transportation to be: inaccessibility to some of the localities, waste collection fees unaffordability and conflicting lines of interest.

With urban population growing yearly it is vital for planners, waste collection privateers, economists, the government and also the third sector to think through various means of which could sustainably finance waste collection services.

Reflecting the insights of Dr Atilio Savino, a board member for International Solid Waste Association organization based in Austria, working to promote and develop sustainable waste management worldwide, showed a promising mark by highlighting different approaches to finance waste management.

Savino, approach touched on tax system: for any waste type and for special purposes such as landfill tax for contaminated site remediation. Fee system as in general terms such as in municipality setting certain fee and charges to residents for waste per household, per square meter living space and specific purposes such as disposing fee for refrigerators and fluorescent tubes of which demand a concrete integrated disposal process.

Moreover, Savino added on deposit system for certain waste types such as glass bottles and plastic bottles. Full cost system, for certain types of waste which are solely inherited by a certain producer for packaging and electronic waste.

Taking a leap into looking into other home grown intellectual minds, Japhet Lutambi a young development advocate, accountant and a student of economic diplomacy had vital points to share, regarding his concern on waste management in our cities” So far, the appropriate way to waste management is through financing it via Private Public Partnership(PPP), cities and municipals should enter into agreement with private sector for collection of waste since the government does not have enough funds to invest in waste management.

The citizens will pay fees and private companies will have their return” Lutambi also revealed his concern over the low waste collection fees households payoff which don’t suffice the operational costs and return of investment, which limits waste collection to one or two times a week.

Lutambi leaned into suggesting a compulsory status on waste collection,” It is human nature to easily pay for things that give us pleasure and waste management is not one of them. It should be formalised in a sense that a compulsory and statutory payment must be put in place and it will attract fines and penalty if not implemented, it will surge into success over time.”

Moreover, Lutambi strictly cited the fact that, we are no serious enough to eradicate the waste problem. Thus proposing technology to take over the paying of fees, instead of cash on hand. A standardized online system ought to be put to place and the waste collection parameters ought be brought on the same floor as other utility services.

On the other side of perspective, Prisca Michael, a project coordinator for a local human capital consultancy firm, student of economy and a development advocate, perceives the rails of financing waste to be viewed on the ground of business.

“If we look and treat it as a business it is possible to finance it, people can pay for the waste collection service just like any other service, as long as it qualifies and it is well organized.” Ms Michael, went ahead and explored the possibilities of collection, whereby she added “it is possible and it is being done, despite the fact that it is not consistent and not well organised.

Just as a social good it can be made cheaper in low income streets and the price be a bit higher in high income streets such as Masaki-Dar es Salaam” Ms Michael, still remained strong in creating a good and systematic waste management business modal which offers services which are organized, with high-quality and consistent.

Contrary to Lutambi, she identified compulsoriness of the service to be challenging, exposing the retaliation of the service due to the nature of the entire waste management sphere. Thus Ms Michael compared waste collection services with DSTV subscription on quality grounds.

“When waste collection is made into a need people will pay” Musa Mwinga, a youth-development advocate and economic-cartoonist, agrees with Lutambi and Ms Michael, on charging a decent higher fee to the wealthy and a moderate fee to the corporate and industrial agencies.

Mwinga, also added on the effectiveness of fees collection to boost the waste collection process. Whereby Mwinga specifically insisted “The whole situation relies on reciprocity, whereby digitization of fee collection would make the service convenient for customers and it will be appropriate to implement Pay As You Produce (PAYP), system, everyone generates waste which at the end needs proper disposal.

So it would be fair to say everyone should pay for collection of his/her waste” It is imperative to reframe the financing parameters on waste management, for long it has been taken as a subset of basic utility services and public health concern.

It is time to rethink our approach and make our communities sustainable. It is a call for all players and actors to join efforts in working towards financing urban waste collection services in Tanzania.

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Author: By PADILI MIKOMANGWA

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