Opinion

Careless garbage dumping defaces Juba

By Amargira James Kadanya

Juba as the Capital City of the country has often been defaced by reckless garbage dumping. It is usual to see heaps of waste dumped at market centresand major streets in Juba.

Talking of Juba as the capital city, what comes to your mind? Personally, I feel this place is great because it’s home and the responsibility to make it better lies in our hands. Although the garbage problem in South Sudan, particularly in Juba is not bad compared to other densely populated cities world-wide, in my view, it is worsening if nothing is done to combat the problem.

Identifying the root causes of the rampant inappropriate garbage disposal within the city is vital to finding durable and effective solutions. I took some time and moved around the prominent city suburbs and observed the nature and composition of the waste dumped on the streets. The last place I visited was the Custom Market owing to its vast importance to city dwellers as a source of basic food commodities and other products at relatively reasonable prices.

The main streets and pathways here are tarmacked but filled with dusty roadsides which meaning that the quality of our roads is still lacking. A large chunk of single use plastic materials are dumped along the streets comprising of water and soft drink bottles, plastic bags locally known as ‘kis’, single use paper materials and small sized plastic detergent bags.

 South Sudan has over time developed into a dumpsite kind of economy and market where the most basic commodities or goods that can be manufactured from within the country are imported from the neighboring countries in large amounts. Such goods include various soft drinks in the form of sodas and juices, washing powders, and other single use plastic packaged goods. There are no definite regulations for the waste management sector andlegal framework that criminalizes the act of dumping waste on the streets. Coupled with high levels of negligence from the locals, waste is always dumped on various sites in large quantity, turning these spots into actual dumpsites without proper intervention from the concerned authorities.

Waste management should be our collective responsibility, because it helps everyone to live in a very conducive environment.

Juba comprises of about 450,000 people which is less than half a million people. The above listed figures are obtained from the worldometerwebsite. With such a small number compared to other larger cities, we can come up with a number of strategies as a city and country to clean up our residential areas, roads and avenues.

First of all, I urge all dwellers of Juba to learn the difference between bio-degradable waste and non-degradable waste. Both are of equal importance when recycling is effectively put into use. Bio-degradable waste comprises of unwanted materials that are capable of rotting in the soil when exposed to heterotrophic micro-organisms. They include unwanted kitchen refuse, and other food materials that have gone bad. On the other hand, the non-degradable waste materials which mostly comprise of plastic and polyethene bags can even stay in the soil for decades without rotting or getting broken down by micro-organisms. Their increased stay in the soil is capable of causing long term soil exhaustion and hence low crop yields at harvest time.

The problem with most African cities is that both categories of waste are always mixed together making their separation and recycling an expensive and tedious activity, Juba is not exceptional. After leaving Custom Market, I moved past one of the bridges leaving Malakia and leading to Kator, the situation on this particular spot was so serious that the lower parts of the bridge were filled with all kinds of plastic bottles, polyethene bags mixed with kitchen refuse, wasted food and water as the place appears to be a stream.On finding out more from locals residing close to the area, most assured me of how rain water always washed away the waste leading it up to the Nile and this reaffirmed to me how negligent we as a nation are when it comes to promoting environmental protection.

Talking of solutions to the garbage and waste situation in Juba, there ought to be sensitization campaigns on a massive scale to educate the populace about the demerits of poor waste management. Secondly, with the official designation of dumpsites across all the residential suburbs in Juba, the rate at which waste is dumped on the roads will reduce drastically. It is important to note that the two categories of waste ought to be collected separately to make recycling of plastic materials easier. The last but not least solution to this growing problem happens to be equal distribution of mobile waste collection trays and cans along busy streets and walkways in the busiest parts of the city. I only hope that the populace understands the gravity of the problem at hand as well work with the concerned parties to remedy the situation.

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