Waste Management: Bamenda City Authorities beckon population for succour, experts warn against hazards

By Bakah Derick/Nfor Abdurahaman Nyah 


In the early 2000s, Bamenda in a national competition was rated Cameroon’s cleanest city. Over 20 years later, the situation is bad. The streets are filthy, mountain size waste is spotted at every turn, outdoor vendors battle for space with waste in markets, city water ways are blocked making floods a regular occurrence.  
"At times we are the people who always try to do something like we carry and put and we build, build, build, build until it reach a day that something will happen  they will come and carry." Gemuh Cletus Bamenda City dweller tells www.hilltopvoices.com 

"Cleanliness is next to Godliness and when I look at the Bamenda city, and I see the level of filth, I see the heaps and heaps of garbage that pile rendering the health of the population at risk I feel really disturbed." Prof Tih Pius Muffih Director of CBC Health Services 

The defunct Bamenda Urban council was in charge of waste management at the time the cleanest city award was clinched. Today, Bamenda has a city council and three other councils, yet waste management still remains a challenge.
"The issue of waste management is a serious problem within Bamenda III municipality because… the frequency of collection of waste in Bamenda III is very slow. And apart from the frequency of collection, we discovered that it is even a wrong idea for waste to be carried from homes to the streets."  Fongu Cletus Tanwe: Mayor, Bamenda III admits 

"Indeed we’ve traversed some very difficult socio political challenges in our times and it has really grossly affected the evacuation of wastes on our streets. We’ve been able to have it difficult to collect from the dumpsites, the deposit sites by the citizens to the dump sites where we dispose." Paul Achombong: City Mayor Bamenda corroborates 

Weekly cleanup campaigns, placement of road side waste cans, door to door collections, hiring of a waste disposal company are amongst many efforts engaged to keep Bamenda clean.
"I have made requisition for some 20 tricycles which we could use to go around to start picking from house to house so that we can gather the garbages from homes instead of the people coming to drop them on the street sites." The City Mayor said 

As people around the city struggle to manage themselves around huge dump sites like this, health and environmental experts, see a looming danger.

"To the humans, it is disastrous. Look at the way it is being managed, it is burnt at times, it eutrophicates the streams, polluting." Kari Jackson, Environmentalist and Executive Director of Sustainable Run for Development (SURUDEV)
"You know, with waste management depending on whether it is recyclable or not, you will know which of those wastes contaminates both the marine environment as well as the soil contamination and the air contamination because each of these areas that they are being contaminated has a particular health hazard." Dr Morane Mbongnu Medical Doctor explained 

With experiences from many cities around the world, City authorities still believe the situation can be rescued.

"We will collaborate with the city council, who is actually in charge of waste management in the city, to see that some of these policies are reviewed and at our local level, we plan to embark on a serious sensitization campaign of the population to start managing the waste from their homes." Mayor Fongu Cletus said 

"If we had the means required we would have had a 7tone, 10tone vehicles which can move around and then collect a larger quantity of garbage every day in this way, I see no where that garbage will begin to find its way into heaps in our municipality." The City Mayor appealed 

As city authorities look for a solution, civil society actors and non-governmental organizations are ready to offer more ideas.
"We can school our people to let them know what is good and make provisions to them on how to dispose garbage, how to collect it, classify it, the one that is hard material, the one that is paper that cannot decompose, the one that is… can decompose easily and so on. When garbage is collected in classes that way, it is easier to get it and dispose in a very good way. We need to be more organized as leaders and educate the people that follow us and there will be a change." Prof Tih Pius Muffih advised. 

Until that moment, when any of the proposals will provide a lasting solution to Bamenda’s waste management crisis, the city remains dirty. 

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