Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Garbage day in Gisenyi

It was garbage day in Gisenyi today. The standard price for trash pickup is 1000 francs; we paid 500 francs (a bit less than a dollar) because we have very little garbage. Most people put their garbage in plastic sacks that formerly held rice, flour, sugar, etc, but we use paper bags. Although we paid around 8:30 am, by nightfall the trash on our street was still sitting outside of people’s gates and doors (see picture, from a gate on my street – it was picked up the next day).

When school got out for lunch just before noon, I noticed children clad in school uniforms sorting through garbage bags to retrieve anything of value. In a corner of the market, a crowd of people stood around a garbage mound, clamoring over old shoes covered in trash – I suspect this had something to do with trash collection day, although I’ll keep my eye out for it on other days.

So what happens to the sacks that get left outside doors and, for those who have them, gates? The garbage gets carted away in trucks rented cheaply from the Congo. It gets dumped in a field about 7km away from town, with no treatment. This means chemicals from batteries and all sorts of other crap leaches into the soil. I hope to visit the dump when I get my bike in a few months.

I’ve heard some rumors about trash in Gisenyi (I haven’t been able to double check these, but then this is a blog and not a newspaper so journalistic standards don’t quite apply). The government owes the trash company lots of money that maybe was collected in taxes. Before the government stopped paying, trash pickup was free for all, but now they only collect from those who can pay (the money going towards truck rentals and salaries). What happens to those who can’t pay? According to one person I talked to, “it is necessary to pay” and if someone can’t, “they must move out of town to the village.” When I pointed out that this wasn’t practical, he argued that if you can’t afford to pay for garbage collection, you can’t afford to live in town. In reality, those who can’t afford the fee are forced to burn their trash, which is also how people in rural areas deal with their garbage. Burning trash presents both health and environmental issues.

1 comment:

  1. A new government fee-to-be in LA:
    This 1937-built house in the Hollywood Hills has always had a septic tank, which was replaced and upgraded twenty years ago. Since the basalt does not leech from the cesspool adequately, it must be dumped a couple of times a year for a$350 fee to a private dumping company. Last week I received a letter that the city of LA now plans to charge an annual fee of $50 for a permit to have a septic tank!
    Gail in LA


Visitor Stats

  © Blogger template Simple n' Sweet by 2009

Back to TOP