Runaway Rubbish Threatens to Overwhelm Yangon

Yangon generates about 2800 tonnes of rubbish daily and this waste now poses a very real threat during the monsoon season as it chokes drainage, which is a major cause of flooding in the city.

A myriad of woes – from waste management, shortage of recycling facilities, urban population growth and a lack of awareness about proper waste disposal among city dwellers – have contributed to the alarming increase in the volume of waste.

The city, with some 5 million people, generated 1000 tonnes of waste a day only a few years ago, but that volume has doubled, say local authorities.

To address this seemingly gargantuan problem, the Yangon City Development (YCDC) has decided to take several measures, but their efforts to clean up the city are being hampered by city dwellers who dispose of rubbish carelessly.

The problem becomes acerbated during the rainy season, as rubbish that has been thrown in drains and canals form blockages that prevent water from flowing out of the city.

U Zaw Win Naing, an assistant at the department of Environmental Cleaning and Conservation, told The Myanmar Times that the YCDC began to clear drains and canals of rubbish in the city and all townships beginning in April before the onset of the monsoon.

“Our department has 100 workers in each district to clean canals and drains before the rainy season. The rubbish mostly to blame for drain blockages and flooding are plastic water bottles and other disposable things,” he said.

“Even though people suffer from their carelessness, they still keep doing it, and the city has to clean up the mess. Yes, the department has the responsibility to provide cleaning services, but people need to be aware that careless rubbish disposal is irresponsible. They need to put rubbish in garbage bins,” he added.

In early May, Yangon suffered flooding across the city during a heavy downpour. This should be a warning for Yangon that it needs to prepare for flooding during the wet season.

U Zaw Win Naing said that although the last flood was big, it subsided within 45 minutes because the city had cleaned the drains and canals before the monsoon.

But Yangon’s population is growing and now has more than 6 million people.

He said that city dwellers in Yangon are using subterranean water and is sinking as a result, which makes it easier for the city to flood.

“That is one of the reasons for flooding. Other reasons include people blocking the drains in front of their houses or apartments because they want car parks,” he added.

Of the 33 townships in the YCDC area, the most rubbish is collected from Hlaing Tharyar township.

YCDC charges a mere K20 a day for cleaning services in downtown areas and K10-K15 a day in other townships.

“Even though the service fee is very low, people still throw rubbish all over the place instead of into garbage bins,” he said.

Responding to complaints that the city does not have enough garbage containers, the department says it has provided garbage bins but people do not want them in front of their houses or apartments.

YCDC has 4,000 workers cleaning roads and streets in townships. In 2015-16, Yangon produced 716,051 tonnes of waste, which increased to 881,617 tonnes in 2016-17.

 

Source: The Myanmar Times

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