By: Philip Saine
Sanitation is a significant responsibility of the Kanifing Municipal Council (KMC). This service involves the management of the various types of waste including: garbage, market and street refuse, construction and demolition waste. It is a municipality services that is much concerned with the protection of the environment thereby promoting good health and longevity amongst the citizenry.
For many years the residents of Bakoteh and Manjai have been suffering and bitterly complained about the Bakoteh Dumpsite. This site has been a source of pungent unbearable odor around the vicinity and was ironically called the ‘Bakoteh Perfume’ The dumpsite also posed serious public health hazards including periodical emission of thick smoke that affected visibility and road traffic movement.Respiratory,diarrhea and vector borne illnesses were of great concern to residents of Bakoteh.Both children and the elderly residing at SOS village, SOS Medical Clinic and school are most vulnerable and have registered numerous complaints to previous Mayors and related Ministries of State. Some of the other communities affected are Manjai Kunda, Dippa Kunda, London Corner, Sanchaba Sulay-Jobe, Kotu and Sukuta. Protests against the dumpsite were held repeatedly in the form of public manifestations and marches. Whilst some of the manifestations passed peacefully some others were either denied or violently stopped by the Police Intervention Unit (PIU).
Since the year 2020 however, the residents of these areas noticed improvement in their environment and living conditions. The KMC initiated a positive response to the issues lamented for several years by residents of Bakoteh. Garbage trucks have been brought in for a periodical collection of waste. A permanent wall fence is constructed concealing the awful eyesore and simultaneously providing security to prevent scavengers and illegal entry. The site is further provided with potable water for the washing of equipment, vehicles and for the need of the workers.These,together with the provision of street litter boxes and the construction of markets are positive developments to which the Mayor of KMC is commendable. At Council’s chamber the Municipal Council, on the 14th February 2018, disbursed over 500.000 dalasi to be shared among the ‘Alkalos’ of the Municipality. The cash amount was handed to them as commission for the year 2016/17.
The council may now be viewed by many as being responsive to public concerns and to the protection and conservation of the human environment.
Much more action, however, is required to combat the breeding of house flies, mosquitoes and stray animals. Vector control must be practiced at the disposal site and personnel to be provided with protective clothing including masks, safety boots overalls and gloves. The collection of garbage from residential homes and markets should be much more regular; twice weekly collection should be aimed at. This is because kitchen wastes are mostly organic and putrefy at a high rate, Collection of glasses, particularly in the form of bottles, should be emphasized due to the thousands of soda and beverage bottles being sold in ‘non-returnable’ bottles. These encourage stagnant water and the consequent breeding of mosquitoes.
Council should engage health educators that could effect change in public attitude as regards sanitation, keeping the environment clean and safe. Such health awareness programs should not be intermittent but rather a continuous activity using radio and Tv Programs. The KMC management should also establish direct communication with residents to facilitate giving of prompt useful messages thereby creating greater understanding and cooperation from all residents. Already many residents have an understanding of some of the challenges being encountered namely: the availability of vehicle and equipment spare parts and the frequency of their replacement, absenteeism amongst operation staff that results to failure to meetup with waste collection schedules.
The final solution to the Bakoteh dumpsite is to relocate the facility away from residential areas most especially densely populated communities. A properly chosen disposal site would have better access roads, more economical to operate and yields greater health benefits to society.