What ails Cebu City’s garbage program

|July 31,2016 - 10:57 PM
Garbage are dumped at the Inayawan landfill in Cebu City since it was reopened recently. (CDN PHOTO/TONEE DESPOJO)

Garbage are dumped at the Inayawan landfill in Cebu City since it was reopened recently. (CDN PHOTO/TONEE DESPOJO)


Lack of trucks, unpaid salaries of collectors among problems as segregation policy goes full gear

Crispina Ingieto, 62, practices waste segregation at home.

She keeps two garbage containers for biodegradable and non-biodegrable wastes in her home in Sitio Nivel, Barangay Busay in Cebu City.

Ingieto, a mother of three, said they have been practicing waste segregation since 2011, long before the city government ordered garbage segregation in the city.

But while they already segregate their garbage, collection remains a problem.

“There are times when trucks and collectors don’t arrive and we are left with two weeks’ worth of garbage. That’s the only issue we have in this barangay. In turn, we must find ways disposing our solid waste without being penalized,” she said in Cebuano.

Barangay Busay, which has a population of 14,468, has only one garbage truck to go around the barangay to collect waste disposed by its residents.

The barangay has two four-wheeler trucks purchased from barangay funds, but only one remains operational.

Ingieto, a Busay resident for more than 30 years, said the barangay truck collects garbage in their area at least once a week.

The Cebu City government, through the Department of Public Services (DPS), also assigned three loaders and two drivers to operate the city’s truck and collect garbage in the interiors of the barangay.

A six-wheeler truck from DPS also plies the TransCentral highway once a week to collect roadside trash.

Garbage trucks

The lack of garbage trucks is a problem that Barangay Busay shares with almost all of the city’s 80 barangays.

In some instances in Busay, residents would be left with two weeks of uncollected garbage when the trucks and collectors fail to collect the garbage.

So Busay residents like Ingieto have to think of alternative ways to dispose of their uncollected biodegradable waste such as rotten fruits, which they use as alternative fertilizers for their plants.

In Ingieto’s case, the biodegradable waste would be used as fertilizers for the family’s vegetable and ornamental garden in the backyard.

“If they don’t collect our non-biodegradable garbage, we will just wait for collectors to get them,” Ingieto said.

Barangay Busay produces an average of three to five tons of mixed trash daily.

Barangay Councilor Nestor Surban, Busay’s committee head on environment, said they had already requested the city government for an additional garbage truck for their area.

“We’ve been following up our request since a year ago,” said Surban, who refused to make any further comments on the matter.

However, he said that despite the lack of garbage trucks, they had always managed to find ways in making sure their barangay had disposed their solid waste without violating any existing laws on garbage management.

“We are trying to compel every resident in Busay to follow the right schedules of trash collection because, apparently, some were receiving false alerts. We don’t know why it happened, but as of the moment, we are planning to look deeper into that,” Surban added in Cebuano.

Surban, however, said that he received reports that the new administration would assign three more collectors or loaders for Busay.

“Hopefully it will help in solving the issues our constituents are complaining (about),” he said.

Surban also encouraged residents of Barangay Busay to personally approach him or any barangay official if they had issues on garbage collection.

Segregation policy

In 2011, former Cebu City mayor Michael Rama implemented the “No Segregation, No Collection policy” following the urgent closure of the Inayawan dumpsite, and ordered all households and barangays in the city to segregate their garbage.

Otherwise, DPS will not collect their trash and they shall be penalized under City Ordinance 2031 – the ordinance for the enactment of the Solid Waste Management Act. Violators will face either criminal or administrative sanctions – or both.

However, this policy was not strictly implemented then.

But when Councilor Margarita “Margot” Osmeña assumed as acting mayor shortly after the May 9 election when then Cebu City mayor l Rama was suspended over the 2013 calamity fund issue, she revived the city’s segregation policy.

Near-impossible task

Newly appointed DPS chief Roberto Cabarrubias said the lack of personnel and trucks to collect the 300 to 400 tons of daily garbage volume produced in the city is a “near-impossible task.”

Of the 400 garbage trucks drivers, loaders and collectors employed under DPS, about half of them were no longer given work renewal when Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña assumed office on July 1.

“We requested those who were not relieved from their posts to work overtime, on double-shifts because we are still processing the renewal of their contracts and employment. It’s a necessary step before we can hire new ones and finally put the policy to full force,” he added.

However, he said, that he could not also force his men to render more than eight hours of service especially since some of them had not even been able to get their pay for the last four months.

“We’re investigating that matter for now especially the duration of this issue goes back to the previous administration. In fact, we are already making progress about it,” he said.

But last July 28, the city mayor hired 500 casual employees most of whom would be designated at DPS as loaders and drivers to help collect the city’s garbage.

On the other hand, Cabarrubias said that having only 19 city-owned garbage trucks was also insufficient to keep up with the pace the city government had projected for its “stricter” No Segregation, No Collection policy.

Unpaid salaries

Samuel, a truck driver and garbage collector from Barangay Pasil, confirmed that he and five other members of his team have not been paid since May during a July 26 interview with Cebu Daily News. His team consists of one driver and five garbage collectors.

Samuel and his team are paid at most P8,000 per month as truck drivers and loaders of the city’s DPS.

“(But) we continue to work despite the fact that we have not received any pay from the city government for the past four months,” he added in Cebuano.

He admitted though that there have been several instances where he also considered looking for another employment to support his wife and children.
Samuel said he was hoping to get paid by the end of the month.

“We’ll see if by the end of the month they can pay us. They also told us that the No Segregation, No Collection policy will be put into full effect on July 31. Well, if we still cannot receive the right payment, I’m pretty sure a lot of us will resign,” Samuel stated in Cebuano.

(To be concluded). /UP Cebu Intern Morexette Marie Erram

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