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The need for effective Solid Waste management in Freetown

BY Santigie Kamara, WASH Journalists Network Sierra Leone

The long and protracted battle between the Freetown Waste Management and MASADA Limited regarding the resultant control and management of garbage and waste disposal in the Municipality of Freetown has actually left a serious vacuum thus leading to the resultant flooding of main streets in the city centre and its immediate environs.

Over the past years, much has not been done regarding Health Education in the Freetown Municipality, a situation which has given petty traders and occupants the temerity to be disposing their garbage and human waste in the gutters.

This particular despicable act of disposing garbage and other forms of solid waste in the gutters has resulted to the massive flooding of places like King Harmer Road, Bombay Street, Kissy Road and other parts in Freetown.

Garbage deposited at Susan’s Bay in the eastern part of Freetown

Garbage deposited at Susan’s Bay in the eastern part of Freetown

Research undertaken by this writer also indicates that the insistent ravaging of Freetown Peninsular by charcoal burners, fire wood choppers and granite stone crackers is now leading to soil degradation, deforestation and water erosion which are contributing immensely towards the blockage of gutters in the Municipality of Freetown.

Before delving into the nitty-gritty of this particular topic, it will be pertinent for me to give my revered readers the concise definition of Solid Waste Management, the types of solid waste management and their impacts.

Apparently, Solid Waste Management is a polite term for garbage management.

Therefore, as long as humans have been living in settled communities, solid waste, or garbage, are expected to be health issue because modern societies generate far more solid waste than early humans did.

In Sierra Leone today, the daily activities of petty traders compounded with the sprouting up of mini- industries compounded with the flooding of businesses in the country has actually resulted to the generation of several pounds (kilograms) of solid waste per consumer, not only directly in the home, but indirectly in the wholesale and retail shops at Abacha Street, Kroo Town Road, ECOWAS Street to name a few that vend goods purchased by consumers.

Therefore, Solid Waste Management is a system responsible for the handling all garbage, municipal waste collection, recycling programs, dumps, and incinerators so that the outbreak of waterborne diseases would be minimized to the minimal ebb.

Those who are au-fait with the practices of Community development will attest to the notion of this writer that the early methods of waste management consisted of pits digging and the disposal of garbage in to safer areas.

Indeed, Sierra Leone obtained a rapid population growth after the senseless and brutal civil conflict which left the population in Freetown to be swollen in three fold thus making it extremely strenuous for the Council to be dealing in the area of garbage collection and management became a serious issue.

We are now seeing houses that did not have space to bury their trash would throw it into the streets; making a stroll to the corner stores you will also see unpleasant prospects.

Taking a retrospective view of the past, one may discern with authority that many cities started to set up Municipal garbage collection in the form of rag and bone.

In fact, men who would buy useful garbage from people had to recycle it while the waste collection teams would dispose of unusable waste.

Apparently, the new trend of globalization and the advancement of modern technology have actually transformed Solid Waste Management to a multi-billion dollar business for most industrialized nations today and it is said to be crucial to survival.

Therefore, if Solid Waste Management is a multi -billion dollar business for most industrialized nations today why can’t we imbibe such concept that will actually reduce the scarcity of salaries for the Waste collection workers on a regular basis?

We actually have mini- industries in this country and we recently saw the role played by MASADA Limited to weed out the piles of garbage in the Municipality of Freetown with the use of modern tools and equipments.

Since MASADA vanished from the seen, we started seeing piles of garbage littering the Freetown Municipality and it immediate environs on a daily basis thus leading to massive flooding in the streets which might lead to a calamity during this particular wet season.

It is clear that the Freetown Waste Management company is generating a huge amount of money because they require citizens, shop owners, embassies and private businesses to pay for waste collection, while rural areas have dumps and recycling facilities for citizens to convey their garbage.

The end goal of solid waste manage is specifically base on the reduction of the amount of garbage clogging the streets that are polluting the environment and to also generate income out of the proceeds for collection and recycling.

Similarly, management of solid waste is focused on developing environmentally sound methods of handling garbage; for example in most civilized countries, solid waste is no longer dumped into oceans or unlined pits but are being transformed in to finished products like rubbers, irons, chemicals and gases.

Research undertaken by this writer indicates that MASADA Limited came up with such a brilliant ideal that will actually attach more values to the piles of garbage and solid waste that have already eclipsed the entire Freetown municipality.

There are quite a considerable number of solid wastes in the Municipality of Freetown which need to be dealt with by the Freetown Waste Management.

To start with, the Recyclable Waste and it objects are useful, but no longer wanted.

However, this is a new found wealth or what others may regard as a source of livelihood for our children, young energetic women who find pleasure in scavenging in the dumping sites and streams for scrap metals, aluminum cans and of late “Grafton water rubber plastic”.

Sierra Leone does not have the facilities that will recycle these items which is why they are being exported to the Republic of Guinea and other parts of the world.

Therefore, to deal with such goods, facilities must be constructed to recycle these items, which include scrap metals, broken tumblers, cans, papers, plastics, woods and similar materials.

Another category of solid waste is the Toxic Waste and it could potentially contaminate the environment, meaning that it needs to be handled with care.

This category includes electronic waste, a growing problem in many industrialized nations. However, we are yet to have toxic waste deposited in our waters.

The Green Waste is another form of solid waste and it includes such as compost and yard clippings.

Indeed, Green waste is common in the Municipality of Freetown and can occur mostly when people with land do compost their own green waste.

In most cases, people collect it separately from true garbage, the final category, so that the green waste can be composted and returned to the earth.

According to the World Bank Global of Solid waste, solid waste management is the one thing just about every city government provides for its residents. While service levels, environmental impacts and costs vary drastically, solid waste management is arguably the most important municipal service and services Hoornweg, Daniel (2012)

He argues that the amount of Municipal solid waste is one of the most important by-products of an urban lifestyle that is growing even faster than the rate of urbanization.

Giving a statistical analysis, Hoornweg Daniel explained that ten years ago, there were 2.9 billion urban residents who generated about 0.64 kg of municipal solid waste per person per day (0.68 billion tones per year.)

This report estimate that today these amounts have increased to about three billion residents generating 1.2 kg per person a day (1.3 billion tones per year).

He postulated that by 2025, this will likely increase to 4.3 billion urban residents generating about 1.42kg a day of municipal solid waste (2.2 billion tones per year)

Despite all what has been said, the Government of President Ernest Bai Koroma should at this point in time lay more emphasis on Solid Waste Management collection so that the Cholera plague will not spread it tentacles once more again on Freetonians as it did sometime last year that left the death toll to an un-imaginary proportion.

We should have the solid Waste Collection trucks moving through the streets of Freetown on regular schedules to collect the heap of refuse in most of these stationed dust bins.

 

Similarly, the women I use to see sweeping the major streets of Freetown are no longer performing their duties which might has resulted to maladministration.

Therefore, the contract for the management and collection of garbage in the Municipality of Freetown must be reviewed robustly  to ensure that we dwell in a conducive and pollution free environment and to ensure that the rubbish collected are properly disposed.

Solid wastes typically may be classified as follows:

Garage decomposable waste from food, rubbish: non-decomposable (such as paper, wood, and cloth) or noncombustible (such as metal, glass and ceramics), ashes: residues of the combustion of solid fuels, large wasters: demolition and construction debris and trees ,dead animals, sewage- treatment solid: material retained on sewage –treatment screens, settled solids and biomass sludge, industrial wastes: such materials as chemicals, paints and sand mining wastes: slag heaps and coal refuse piles, agricultural wasters: farm animal manure and crop residues.

Disposal of solid wastes on land is by far the most common method in most of the countries and probably accounts for more than 90% of the world’s municipal refuse.

Incineration accounts for most of the remainder, whereas composting of solid wastes accounts for only an insignificant amount. Selecting a disposal method depends almost entirely on costs, which in turn are likely to reflect local circumstances.

Sanity landfill is the cheapest satisfactory means of disposal, but only if suitable land is within economic range of the source of wastes; typically, collection and transportation account for 75% of the total cost of solid waste management.

In a modern landfill, refuse is spread in thin layers, each of which is compacted by bulldozer before the next is spread. When about 3 m (about 10 ft) of refuse has been laid down, it is covered by a thin layer of clean earth, which also is compacted.

Pollution of surface and ground water is minimized by lining and contouring the fill, compacting and planting diverting upland proper soil, diverting upland drainage, and placing waters in sites not subject to flooding or higher ground water levels.

Gases are generated in landfills through anaerobic decomposition of organic solid waste.

If a significant amount of methane is present, it may be expensive; proper venting eliminates this problem.

From the above analysis, it is significant to note that waste solid can be reduced by reusing materials, recovering materials through recycling, incineration and land fills.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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