Municipal authorities need not start a war about empty bottles

27Nov 2021
The Guardian
Municipal authorities need not start a war about empty bottles

WITH the clearing out or radical reduction of the presence of petty traders preliminarily achieved in most parts of the city, those which aren’t around market centres in particular, municipal authorities in the city of Dar es Salaam seem to be coming up with new ideas.

Street and ward level authorities were told to make thorough clean up after petty traders leave – now that cleanup is being taken to mean cleanliness in general. Throwing bottles into the streets is now a battle zone, with fines likely to start raining that soon.

Not everyone believes that there is a big problem in that direction, as whatever the scale of the problem it is not of the making of those who live on the streets, especially petty traders. While local authorities and their FM radio interviewers are at home talking about dustbins and other waste collection facilities, there is clearly an effort to spare the municipal administrators from the full implications of their inefficiency. Rarely is a waste collection vessel placed and emptied on time; it is left that way when it is full, such that it becomes part of waste itself, as once it is filled up, the waste has to be restored to street throwing again.

The city RC was for instance at pains in his mid-October interventions on the petty traders to express the sort of anguish that authorities feel when they see dirt being piled up in waste water tunnels constructed during the road building exercise of the past few years. That was the acme of local authorities’ play on public feelings, as people will never collect together and put it to municipal officials that they never once cleaned the tunnels, and dirt is taken away by rainwater. At the moment, following the full covering of the tunnels, everywhere one passes, with the steaming air it is clear cesspits are now emptied into the tunnels.

That isn’t what municipal authorities talk about, and if a situation arises where they are tasked with ending that sort of situation, it is clear they will turn it into a cornucopia of ‘clemency payments,’ to avoid drawing up charges against home owners emptying human waste into roadside tunnels. But that is a tale for another day, and at the moment, municipal officials prepare to embark on a war against those who throw bottles on the roads, wishing to step up fines etc. – an easy way to make some cash.

The point here is that those bottles are part of a wider ecosystem which takes care of itself when people search for bottles to earn bits of cash, cushioning difficult livelihoods, and often grandchildren who have no parents to assure them a livelihood depend on the grandmothers picking bottles. So here is no need for a campaign on bottles as it is an asset that is usually collected and properly disposed. The new fines being readied are needless.

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