|If you think environmental affairs should be left to experts - think again, for Baby Jake Matlala and Sipho "Hotstix" Mabuse are tackling the subject as if it were their special field.|
According to Pikitup, both these celebrities have been appointed as "champions" for the illegal dumping pilot project taking place in Soweto. They are to act as spokespersons, as well as mobilise community support for the initiative.
Project 100 Spots was officially launched on 11 October. Pikitup's Marius de Villiers says out of 500 illegal dumping spots in Soweto, the worst were chosen for this project.
Health risks posed by illegal dumping are frightening. Pikitup believes children who play in open areas containing dumped waste are at risk of being injured by broken glass, sharp pieces of metal, used hypodermic needles or other dangerous items in the waste. Also, perishable waste like discarded food creates an ideal breeding ground for bacteria.
Apart from health risks, illegal dumping is costing the city approximately R20-million per annum, and that is only from Soweto, where Pikitup collects 7 000 tons of illegally dumped waste each month.
To counteract this predicament, Pikitup has trained 45 staff and 25 Metro Police officers to conduct one-on-one interviews with residents and spread awareness and information about illegal dumping. At the same time, the "educators" will be informing residents about the range of waste management services offered by Pikitup. These include a wide range, from domestic waste and street sweeping to the collection and destruction of animal carcasses and bulk services to industries.
As part of the 100 Spots project, about 192 000 240-litre bins have been provided to the greater Soweto area. In a system in place in some - but not yet all - areas, householders are to place their rubbish in the bins instead of the usual plastic bags, and specially-adapted trucks will collect it.
To keep the "rehabilitated former illegal dumping sites" clean, plans are afoot to form community-based "eco-community forums" that will accept ownership and responsibility of future maintaining the sites. "No dumping signs" will also be posted.
Moreover, 90 Metro Police officers will be deployed in Soweto to clamp down on illegal dumping once all the 100 spots have been cleaned up. Orlando West, Pimville, Naledi, Dube, Emdeni, Jabulani and Protea Glen are just a few of the areas where these police officers will be deployed.
Research conducted by Pikitup has revealed that illegal dumping is not so much an act of deliberate malice, but rather the result of an illegal dumping culture exacerbated by the apartheid era's failure to deliver effective waste collection and disposal services to all Joburg citizens, says Pikitup.
Plans to take the project to other parts of Joburg are on the agenda.
"With the comprehensive and efficient waste management services offered by Pikitup, there is no reason for any Joburg residents to engage in illegal dumping," says Pikitup.