Waste pickers stand against municipality

2015-11-12 06:00
PHOTO: supplied  Waste pickers at the entrance to the landfill site.

PHOTO: supplied Waste pickers at the entrance to the landfill site.

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CHOAS broke out yesterday at the New England Road landfill site following a protest by the waste pickers after articles published in various newspapers reported that Msunduzi Municipality would chase them from the site with pellet or paintball guns.

Waste pickers, Bobby Peek, groundWork director and Musa Chamane groundWork waste campaigner were arrested.

In the early hours of yesterday morning waste pickers blocked the entrance to the municipal refuse truck site. Initially about 30 waste pickers blocked the entrance.

Sources at the scene said the waste pickers were not planning to leave the area until they were addressed by Mayor Chris Ndlela, however, sources allege that the municipality said they would not be addressing them as they were not invited to. A memorandum was sent to the municipality after 3pm on Tuesday, 10 November.

Protesters took to burning wood and dried trees at the entrance to the landfill site. When police arrived protesters wielded sticks and refused to vacate the area. It is alleged that the police used gas and rubber bullets to clear the area however, the protesters returned, which is when they were arrested.

A press release circulated by groundWork stated that the protest is a culmination of a “longstanding failure of the municipality to build a materials recovery facility. It is at the landfill where waste pickers derive income, save the municipality space at the landfill and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions”.

Municipal spokesperson Nqobile Madondo said the issue of the landfill site tip pickers was raised at a recent Exco meeting as it poses health, safety and security concerns for the municipality.

“Currently tip pickers are constructing illegal structures and shacks in and around the landfill, starting fires as well as breaking down fences.

“There have been violent incidences reported and that now poses a security risk to tip pickers and council employees at the site.”

According to her pickers have not been prevented from entering the landfill site, they are the ones who have prevented the normal functioning or activities of the landfill site from continuing as normal.

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