Implementation decision on waste remains on paper a year later

On April 9, 2023, President Museveni issued an executive order directing all urban authorities to install a waste container every 200 meters in their towns. This Executive Order was expected to be implemented within six months.

“That container must be emptied every three days, or more often if volumes are large,” the executive order reads in part.

The President said he was tired of seeing piles of garbage when he drove around Kampala and parts of the upper towns. Mr Museveni said he wants plastic recycled into new-use molds, organic waste into fertilizer and waste paper into toilet paper.

The President said that within a year, every urban center should have come up with a clear plan for recycling solid waste. A year later, however, little or nothing has been done on the site.

Mr Richard Ssekyondo, the Chairman of Division B in Entebbe Municipality, said they have not implemented the Order because locally generated revenue is no longer managed by the Entebbe Municipal Council.

He also explained that the division had hired a private company to handle waste to save costs on purchasing garbage containers, refueling and repairing garbage trucks.

“So Entebbe chose to privatize waste and we now have a company that collects waste from residents and the market and the latter pay a fee,” he added.

Currently, Mr Ssekyondo said they are in the process of sensitizing residents through a program called “Weeyonje” (clean yourself).

“Providing bins is an outdated method of managing waste and I don’t think we can go back to that era,” he added.

In Arua, authorities say waste management is expensive. During a benchmark visit to Mbarara City, they said they learned a better way to manage waste, similar to that in Entebbe.

Mr David Kyasanku, Arua City Registrar, said private companies, such as in Entebbe, have been contracted to manage waste in towns and residential areas. The companies transport the waste to a composite recycling plant in Euata, just outside Arua City.

“Our recycling plant was established in 2011 with funding from the World Bank through the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) to recycle waste into fertilizer. Currently, we generate about Shs11 million from the sale of manure,” he said.

Last year, the city designated at least 22 waste collection points. Currently, Arua City needs more than Shs100 million to effectively manage the Euata landfill.

Mr Robinson Draga, the Ayivu Division Production Officer, said there is a need to step up enforcement.

“Due to low manpower and equipment, waste management becomes difficult, especially in the markets… This is because it takes a long time for the trucks to reach the points where waste is piled up waiting to be collected,” he said .

The Mayor of Kabale Municipal Council, Mr Sentaro Byamugisha, said the executive order on waste containers will only be implemented once the central government allocates more funds to the council.

“Putting garbage bins 200 meters apart is expensive… In Kabale Municipality, we need about 100 garbage bins costing Shs200 million. We will not implement that executive order until the central government releases funds for the purchase of the garbage containers,” Mr Byamugisha said.

According to Mr Byamugisha, about 50 tonnes of waste is collected every day in Kabale Town and transported to the Kirengyere Garbage Recycling Center in Kabaraga Hills.

In Gulu, municipal secretary Innocent Ahimbisibwe admits that poor waste management is still a tough nut to crack.

Early this year, Mr Ahimbisibwe said they have drafted a regulation on solid waste management which, among other things, aims to impose a fine of Shs40,000 on those convicted of littering in public.

“We want to take Gulu City to the next level in terms of cleanliness; If someone eats ripe bananas or corn, how can we put this waste in the trash?” he said.

The ordinance, the debate and entry into force of which is still pending in the municipal council session, covers, among other things, violations such as dumping and throwing waste in public places, parking of vehicles, motorcycles and bicycles in non-designated places and illegally setting up washing stations in the wetlands. .

Mrs. Joyce Aryemo Latigo, the Acting Environmental Officer of Gulu City, said the ordinance, once passed and enforced, will minimize plastic waste in the wetlands and the environment.

In Jinja, city governments said they are seeking partnerships to implement the Executive Order.

According to Mr Juma Ssozi, Jinja City Secretary for Works, they have collaborated with Makerere University Business School (Mubs) to distribute waste containers.

In Njeru Municipality, which is so close to Jinja town, the Municipal Chairman, Mr Robert Mulwana, said they have not received any money to enforce the presidential directive.

He said the waste bins at bodaboda and taxi stands were supplied by companies and factories within the municipality.

“To effectively enforce the presidential directive, the government must abolish the system of transferring local revenue to the exchange and allow each township to manage its revenue for effective service delivery,” Mulwana said.

Mr Sam Paul Ogwang Alunyu, Chairman of Kamudini Municipal Council in Oyam District, said leaders have decided to punish people caught polluting the town.

“As soon as you dispose of waste material in an area that is not listed in the official waste disposal publication, we will fine you two currency points; that is Shs40,000,” he said.

The council’s projected revenue generation for this current financial year is Shs28 million. However, of this, 40 percent (Shs11.2 million) would be spent on waste collection alone, according to the Acting Municipal Manager, Mrs Grace Ayugi.

Ms Ayugi said more than 3,000 tonnes of waste is generated daily in Kamdini Municipal Council.

Masaka City Health Officer, Mr Musa Maberi, said they have no money to implement the directive as it requires authorities to purchase about 920 containers, each costing Shs17 million, which translates to 15 Shs.6 billion.

However, he said private companies are processing waste.

“The two private companies – TUMACAS and YAMAC have helped in reducing the waste piles in the city. City residents have also adopted better ways to manage their waste and wait for the trucks of the private partners to pick it up and take it to where it is dumped. This has partially resolved the challenges the Executive Order sought to address,” he added.

Mr Gilbert Boona, Deputy Municipal Manager of Bushenyi Ishaka Municipality, said they are aware of the Executive Order but their focus is more on ensuring waste is properly managed.

“The old ways of bringing back waste containers in municipalities and cities bring back the flies and stench. The new system we are using seems to be working: the generator pays for his or her waste and we do not spend any money on waste collection,” he said.

Mr Fenard Katunda Mukuru, Ibanda Municipal Secretary, said: “If we want to have dustbins in all ten streets here, we may need more than Shs3.4 million for one street and more than Shs30 million to buy them all, plus the vehicles to take waste to the dump.”

Meanwhile, Mr Paul Omer, Mayor of Soroti City East, decried the lack of funds for maintenance of waste collection equipment.

But Mr Jim Mugunga, the Ministry of Finance spokesperson, said it is up to city authorities to release money in their budgets for waste management.

“City governments and local governments budget for all their activities, including waste management. As the Ministry of Finance, we expect them to make maximum use of alternative financing of activities such as waste management,” he said.

Mr Didas Muhanguzi, Mbarara City South Registrar, said garbage bins were banned in the city.

“We no longer have those trash cans in our city; residents did not use them properly. Currently, we have a service provider who collects waste in the city,” he said.

Mr Bonny Tashobya, chairman of Mbarara Municipal Council, said all residents pay a fee for waste collection.

“They (residents) have bins where they keep rubbish before it is collected and this has worked for us. We used to spend Shs500 million every month which drained our budget,” he said.

Compiled by Al-Mahdi Ssenkabirwa, Felix Warom Okello, Eve Muganga, Clement Aluma, Abubaker Kirunda, Robert Muhereza, Denis Edema, Emmanuel Arineitwe, Felix Ainebyoona, Milton Bandiho, Coslin Nakayiira, Jovita Kyarisiima, Julius Byamukama, Bill Oketch, Antonio Kalyango, Tobbias Jolly Owiny, Malik F Jjingo and Simon Peter Emwamu