DSCC’s waste collection ‘reform’ raises questions
The recent move by Dhaka South City Corporation to “reform” the city’s waste collection has not fared well with citizens, who say they are being charged excessively by the newly-appointed contractors, and the service is substandard.
DSCC started to appoint one primary collection service provider (PCSP) in each ward for collecting waste from all sorts of establishments under its jurisdiction from July this year. It has so far appointed PCSP in 69 out of its 75 wards.
According to the contract agreement, service providers will not charge more than Tk 100 per month from each household unit and other establishments for their service.
However, residents of several areas said the service providers were demanding much higher from households. They apprehended that the imposed burden will only increase in the future and the whole system will promote a business interest group centring local musclemen.
The reformed system has replaced the general practice of local social service organisations managing the job of collecting wastes with vetting from the local ward councillor. Through that previous system, each household unit had to pay around Tk 40-50 to the service provider, while shops were not charged for that service since those generated little waste.
City planners say the informal, self-funded service was introduced because of the city authorities’ failure to install enough waste collection containers at convenient locations and developing the habit of city dwellers to drop off their daily waste themselves.
In DSCC area, waste containers are placed either too far away from each other or placed in an unplanned manner. For instance, in most wards, the distance between two garbage containers is at least two or three kilometres.
On the other hand, in Bamoil bazaar (ward 66), The Daily Star found three garbage containers in the same location. Residents from three nearby wards have to commute long distances to reach the containers.
This newspaper recently visited eight wards under DSCC and talked to numerous residents who expressed utter dissatisfaction about this reform.
“Until July, I used to pay Tk 50 per month. Now, the waste collector company is charging Tk 100. When I refused to pay and said I would dispose of my wastes myself in the garbage container set up by the government, they said I will have to pay them the monthly bill regardless,” said Abdus Salam, a school teacher who lives in East Jurain under ward-53.
Several residents of Jatrabari’s Konabari area (ward-64) said the service provider was charging Tk 200 from them. They also showed monthly receipts as evidence. “Although they are charging two to three times higher, their service is very unsatisfactory. They often dump all the garbage on canals and sewerage lines,” said Fajlul Karim, a resident of Konabari.
Mizanur Rahman, a social activist and a resident of East Jurain, said, “We are paying different kinds of taxes to DSCC for maintaining our houses and business. Then why do we have to pay for waste collection to a private company?”
“DSCC’s method to appoint private company in exchange of money means next year another company may get the contract in exchange of more money which they will try to draw from city dwellers. So, the cost of waste collection will continuously increase and people will have to bear the burden,” he added.
WHAT SERVICE PROVIDERS SAY
Kaosar Haoladar’s company Raeen International has been appointed to collect waste from ward-53.
He said, “We collect no more than Tk 100 per month as fixed by DSCC. But, many local inhabitants are not paying us. I have to operate 35 rickshaw-vans and 75 staffers just to collect wastes.”
“Moreover, to complete all the tasks within 6-10pm timeframe we have to recruit hundreds of labourers. How will we pay our workers and labourers, if people don’t pay us this minimum bill?” he said.
Another PCSP owner, requesting anonymity, said DSCC took Tk 12 lakh as safe deposit from us. We also had to pay hundreds of thousands to local politicians to get their “recommendations”. I have invested almost Tk 20 lakh to launch this business. I have to make sure that I am making profit while delivering services.”
WHAT DSCC SAYS
DSCC chief waste management officer Air Commodore Badrul Amin said, “Waste collection from households is not the city corporation’s job. So, this is not covered by holding tax or other municipal taxes.”
“Previously it was done in an unregulated manner which made waste management extremely difficult. To make things better, we have appointed companies through a review committee,” he said.
Asked about increased bills, he replied, “We have assessed the expenditure trend of households in DSCC and thus fixed the maximum bill of Tk 100 per month. However, smaller households, offices can pay less than that depending on the amount of waste they produce. There is no chance of increasing the bill in the future.”
“If a PCSP demands more than Tk 100 or violate any of the 25 terms, their deposit will be seized and their permission to operate will be cancelled,” he added.