The trouble with trash

By: Morexette Marie B. Erram and Doris Mae C. Mondragon May 05,2018 - 09:02 PM

For residents of Cabantan Street Barangay Luz, Cebu City, large tarpaulins hanging in front of garbage trucks reminding them to segregate their trash will not work for them.

“Pag-patuman sa gobyerno sa segregation, ni-tuman jud mi pero kutob ra pud duha ka buwan, wala na napadayon kay mga gahi mag ulo gud ang mga tao, dili pud mo-segregate. Butang kay butang lang sa basura (After the government implemented segregation, we followed the rules but only up to two months. A lot of people were just so hard headed and would just throw garbage anywhere),” said Lisa, a 46-year-old sari-sari store owner.

The lukewarm reception of several Cebu City residents to the “No Segregation, No Collection” policy is believed to be a major stumbling block to the full implementation of the policy even after February 2018 when City Hall made another attempt to strictly enforce it.

Former Cebu City Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) head, Nida Cabrera, said that in April, only 50 percent of over 300,000 households in Cebu City complied with the policy even after several information campaigns were conducted in the communities.

Cabrera, however, noted some progress from households particularly in downtown Cebu.

“We have tasked our Barangay Environment Officers (BEO) to regularly update us on the “No Segregation, No Collection” policies in their respective communities and that’s how we can ensure that households are complying with it,” Cabrera explained in an earlier interview with Cebu Daily News.

Data obtained by CDN revealed that the village which complied most to the policy was Barangay Sambag I in downtown Cebu, which has around 3,000 households.

According to a BEO report, 24 of the barangay’s 28 sitios complied with the segregation rule by putting up separate trash receptacles for biodegradable, non-biodegradable and recyclable wastes.

However, in Barangay Labangon, only 14 out of 48 sitios complied with the garbage policy, making it the least compliant among the barangays of Cebu City.

MORE PROBLEMS

Even as Cenro just barely made it halfway through its task to have all barangay residents comply with the segregation rules, more problems hound the garbage issue, one of the city’s most pressing concerns.

Aside from the residents’ resistance to follow policies, Cabrera disclosed several problems in the collection of garbage itself such as: garbage trucks breaking down, a shortage of garbage collectors especially in large barangays such as Guadalupe, and undisciplined drivers.

“There are some truck drivers who will only make one round of collection in a day. Although they can dump the trash they collected in the very early hours of the morning, most of the time, there are reports we received that they take too long to return to their assigned barangay,” Cabrera explained.

The concerns were forwarded to the Solid Waste Management Board (SWMB) for its recommendation to the mayor on how to solve the matter.

POLITICS?

Indisputably, traffic and garbage management are the most prevalent problems in the administration of Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña.

While road congestion problems are being addressed with the strict implementation of new traffic rules and better infrastructure, garbage solutions may take a while longer for the city.

In a recent decision, the Supreme Court (SC) voted to permanently close down the Inayawan landfill, the only open-dumpsite owned by the Cebu City government.

Also last April, the Cebu City Council, voting 9 to 8, disapproved an ordinance that would have allowed a private developer to put up a sanitary landfill in a 1.7-hectare property in the mountain village of Binaliw.

The twin blows have left the city with fewer options on where to dump an average of 600 tons of garbage collected daily.

The council’s decision against the Binaliw open dumpsite caught the ire of Osmeña, who in a Facebook post last May 2, accused the opposition Barug Team Rama party of playing politics.

“Not only can we not use the Inayawan landfill, now we cannot develop a landfill to replace it. So where is the garbage supposed to go now?” asked Osmeña.

“Are you going to continue to make it difficult for the City to collect the garbage and let more Cebuanos suffer for the sake of your politics?” Osmeña added.

Opposition Councilor Joel Garganera, who was responsible for filing the petition for a Writ of Kalikasan before the appellate court debunked the mayor’s charges.

Garganera claimed that it was Osmeña’s lack of transparency on the Binaliw deal which prompted him and other members of the council to vote against it.

Garganera also slammed the city government for apparently turning a blind eye when officials of Barangay Binaliw as well as the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) issued ARN Builders a cease-and-desist order.

Meanwhile, a private consultancy firm has been given the green light to come up with rehabilitation and closure measures for the Inayawan landfill.

Cenro assistant chief Joselito Baclayon announced that Full Advantage Philippines International has signed the notice to proceed with its comprehensive rehabilitation and closure plan for the Inayawan dumpsite.

Baclayon also said that hours after the deal was signed last May 2, several representatives of the firm conducted a site-visit in the 15-hectare open dumpsite.

The firm is expected to come up with its findings by mid-July or August.

“They are tasked in finding out and identifying which rehabilitation measures we need to undertake. They would also identify post-rehabilitation and utilization of the 15-hectare site,” said Baclayon.

For the service, Full Advantage Philippines International, with its main branch located in Thailand, will be paid P2.4-million as consultancy fee charged against the city’s 2018 Environmental Guarantee Fund.

Its work will cover data collection and site assessment as well as the preparation of a plan for the environmentally sound closure and improvement of the Inayawan landfill.

The city government is also eyeing to put up a waste-to-energy (WTE) facility with the help of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) which is now conducting a waste characterization study on the site through the UK-based consultancy firm Mott MacDonald.

Baclayon said that the firm will come up with the results of their study in July as the city explores more possibilities on how to utilize the landfill after its rehabilitation.

The project’s cost, amounting to P40-million, will be funded by the ADB. (with CNU Intern Maejane Dungog)

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