The Mangaung Metro Municipality’s inability to address the issue of irregular refuse collection has caused residents to grow accustomed to the great stench of rotten garbage, in many cases left on the side of the road.
In recent weeks they have been left to gasp for fresh air due to the unpleasant smell after refuse was not collected.
This was the case across the south of Bloemfontein, in residential areas such as Heidedal, Ashbury, Opkoms, Bloemside, Phahameng, Bochabela, Rocklands, Bloemanda, JB Mafora and Turflaagte.
Refuse not being collected has fuelled the dumping of rotten waste everywhere possible. To make matters worse, the hot weather has intensified the constant stench of the waste being dumped.
Bokang Moleme, a resident of Rocklands, is exposed to the stench of waste rotting on the pavement in front of his property on the corner of Pele Street and Makoane Road.
He laments the distress caused by the situation staying unresolved for weeks on end.
“Because the municipal workers gather waste on this spot for collection, residents also decide to leave refuse here,” says Moleme.
“The is done without awareness of the health problems that we are exposed to. It also leads to rat infestation.
“We have children as young as three years old and you can image the conditions they are exposed to.
“The situation worsens when the municipality skips collection.”
Moleme said the situation of waste being brought to this spot and left to rot in front of his house has been a problem for years, as the Mangaung Metro fails to find a solution.
“Where are the authorities of Mangaung health and environment to monitor this, and the ward councillors to address this issue?
“This should be a multipurpose effort by the authority to educate residents, as well as inform them that they should put refuse at their gate, not next-door.
“The message I get is that residents must accept what is happening. If so, what am I paying rates and taxes for?”
Moleme said that in some instances, he would wake up at night to notice the smoke-laden air of garbage engulfed in flames.
“This is done without considering the danger of fire. The prepaid water meter is exposed to this danger.”
Despite this basic service being seemingly hard to deliver, the metro raised the tariff for refuse collection by 8,09% in August.
Qondile Khedama, spokesperson for metro, issued a statement on Friday (16/10), informing residents that the solid waste management directorate was in the process of addressing the backlog in the collection of refuse. However, no reasons were provided why refuse had not been collected for over three weeks.
The metro’s waste collection problems are well documented, with bitter fights over wage and overtime allowance with the workers in the solid waste division and private small and medium enterprise contractors which are enlisted through the Black Economic Empowerment programme.
Contractors have cut ties with the cash-strapped municipality after bitter fights over delayed payment.
The municipality’s chronic refuse collection problem includes staff and fleet shortages which causes the metro to fail in serving the ever-growing population.