By John Ogulei
Soroti city has for over three years failed to utilize the multi-million shilling garbage decomposing plant meant to address the problem of waste management.
Twelve years ago, Soroti municipality now city signed a memorandum of understanding with the World Bank to construct a garbage composting site at Aminit parish in Soroti City East division with an aim of controlling the emission of gas into the atmosphere.
In the memorandum, the World Bank committed Shs 400 million to construct the recycling plant and council was tasked to provide land, access road and fence off the place.
In the memo, council was supposed to provide a grader and manpower to recycle the volumes of garbage which they have not fulfilled. A lot of garbage dumped at the site remains unprocessed pausing a health hazard to the communities around the area.
Soroti Municipal Council generates up to 96.1 tonnes of solid waste per day, about 70% of which is organic waste.
The easily degradable waste in the city constitutes 84.54% (food, garden waste, paper) while 15.78% constitutes the non-degradable waste.
When our reporter visited Aminit garbage dumping site, flies hovered over the decomposing garbage and Source intimated to our report that the plant hasn’t been processing the manure for over 3 years.
Much of the generated waste from Soroti City and the immediate catchment is composed of vegetable matter, glass, clinical waste, waste paper, plastics especially low-density polyethylene, worn out tyres and wood shavings.
For three years no sorting of waste takes place thus all the generated solid waste (biodegradable and non-biodegradable, toxic and non-toxic, glass and metals) find its way into the garbage skips and eventually to the disposal grounds, which the municipal authorities claim is one of the factors affecting the decomposition of garbage in Aminit plant.
Soroti City acquired land located approximately 5 kilometers out of Soroti City centre at Aminit Village where waste composting and landfilling was to be undertaken. The site measures 9 acres.
Whereas, The Uganda Constitution of 1995, Articles 39 and 41 provide that, Every person in Uganda has a right to a clean and healthy environment and as such can bring action for any pollution or disposal of wastes and further states that government will promote development, utilisation and public awareness of the need to manage land, air and water resources in a balanced and sustainable manner for present and future generations, the Authorities have failed to support the local people attain their constitutional right.
One of the potters at Aminit garbage composting plant who preferred anonymity because of fear of losing his job told this reporter that they are currently stuck and don’t know what to do as the garbage keeps piling up for now three years when the new Town Clerk Moses Otimong was brought.
He explained that, whereas the wheel loader is important because it helps them to push and turn garbage the city authorities have failed to provide them with the wheel loader now leaving them with no option but rather push the garbage manually.
He added that they are also faced with a huge challenge of underfunding while noting that their complaints to Soroti city council to increase funding to facilitate their work have fallen on deaf ears.
Micheal Olupot one of the area residents of Aminit has expressed his worries over the management decomposing plant saying the community now suspects the outbreak of diseases like Diarrhea and Cholera.
He added that the piled garbage has taken over three years without being decomposed.
Paul Omer, acting Soroti City Mayor, blames the problem of industrial waste on Soroti residents who run their businesses without proper waste disposal facilities, which in itself is an abuse of entrusted authority.
He was also quick to place this whole mess on Municipal Officials who take bribes from business owners and turn a blind eye on them.
“The garbage management has gone to its lowest terms. The divisions pick money and spend at source, they don’t deposit money to petrol stations.” He said.
He also added that Aminit composing site needs proper attention and required more funds to clear the garbage, which has accumulated over a period of time.
Moses Otimong, the Soroti City Acting City Clerk, blames the mess on financial challenges.
He said that they have been relying on money collected from the property tax to facilitate work at Aminit garbage composing plant but says it is not coming as expected.
He explained that they need over 2 million shillings monthly to fuel the wheel loader but the revenue generated is minimal and cannot support the operations because of the huge volume of garbage generated in the city.
He added that the city has to commit more funds from other departments to address the problems at Aminit dumping site.
Soroti city used to be the cleanest town in Uganda according to NEMA, 1999 report. Recently the city has lost its status because the problem of solid waste collection and disposal is overwhelming. The city is not able to handle all aspects concerning solid waste collection and disposal.