Joburg in fleeting problem
Residents of Johannesburg are faced with delays in waste collection and rubbish bags piling up on pavements because of a truck shortage.
Residents of Johannesburg, already sorely tried by the billing bungling and pothole proliferation, are now faced with closed garden refuse sites, delays in waste collection and rubbish bags piling up on pavements because of a truck shortage.
Pikitup, Johannesburg’s solid waste collection service, is not in a crisis, acting MD Lawrence Boya says. Pikitup is busy with an interim solution and matters should improve from next month.
But Alan Fuchs, the Democratic Alliance’s Johannesburg infrastructure committee spokesman, disagrees. “Refuse collection issues are indications that the whole city is in crisis. They cannot collect the money owed to them. As they try to save money, it affects service delivery.”
Boya says various garden sites are being closed for only a couple of days at a time while backlogs are cleared. Household waste collection is being delayed by a day or two because of “fleet challenges” and rubbish bags are piling up because residents become impatient and start to dump their waste.
The situation follows the city’s decision to terminate at the end of February its contract with FleetAfrica for the supply and maintenance of collection vehicles. It is moving towards a new waste management model, “sorting at source”, which means residents have to split their waste into recyclable streams. This will reduce the volume of waste taken to landfill sites so the city will not need as many, nor the same kind of, vehicles.
Pikitup will own its collection fleet in future. It bought 161 vehicles from FleetAfrica, but these are old and many need major maintenance and component replacement, which is under way, Boya says. The full complement of waste collection trucks was 336 vehicles.
Another 10 flatbed trucks, for collecting recyclable waste bags, have been ordered and will be available within six months. The city is also contracting private-sector companies to assist with collection on an ad hoc basis.
The budget for buying more vehicles in 2012/2013 is R284m, the same as in 2011/2012. It was not increased because the number of vehicles needed is expected to decline and because the older trucks will be replaced by smaller, less expensive equipment, Boya says.
While the DA naturally adopts a hard line, it is hard to see how Pikitup is going to get on top of the problem within six months with far fewer vehicles and no increase in its fleet purchasing budget.
But the situation presents a good opportunity for anyone wanting to hire out a waste collection vehicle.