MBALE – The Government of Uganda has been advised to come up with a levy against companies that manufacture items that are complicating waste management.
The call was made by Public Sector Workers in Uganda while inspecting the working conditions of waste workers in Mbale City on Monday.
Under different workers’ unions including; the local government workers’ union, Uganda Public Employees’ Union that represents electricity workers, and also Uganda Electric Allied Workers’ Union that represents workers within electricity, the sector has a project that currently looks at descent work within the supply chain that involves energy, water and waste.
During the inspection, the unions donated over 80 overalls and gloves to garbage collection workers in Mbale city which is among those struggling to manage waste.
Dr. Evelyn Aketch, the sub-regional secretary at Public Services International noted that one of the main challenges that waste workers face in Uganda is the lack of personal protective equipment.
According to her, the key challenge facing Uganda is the lack of a national policy that could actually help the country as a whole to manage and define how to manage its waste.
“We know that Uganda has got a law that prohibits the use of polythene bags of a certain millimeter, however, this is not being implemented currently across the country.”
This, she says has exacerbated the challenge of waste management within the country.
“Like our visit today showed that 90% of the waste in Mbale is actually as a result of what we refer to as buvera (polythene bags) themselves. And this is becoming a challenge not only in terms of them not being able to recycle, but also in terms of blocking a number of drilling system that is enhancing the challenges of flooding in Mbale, among other parts of the country,” she noted.
Dr. Aketch Now, called upon the government of Uganda to have a national policy that will clearly govern the management of waste in the country.
“Waste currently is the new gold that everybody knows if it is managed well, there’s a lot of products that come out of that waste. A lot of it is the energy itself, that can be used to supplement the costly charges that you currently pay towards electricity.”
“Additionally, we note that within Uganda, the only city that has got an ordinance is KCCA – the one of 2000 and that is very obsolete. We appreciate that they’ve taken a step to review it but the review should actually be comprehensive to engage the stakeholders, especially the waste workers because they are able to give a lot of contributions in terms of how to manage waste within the city,” she added.
The unions are optimistic that what will solve the challenges of waste management in Uganda is having a national policy, which also regulates how the private actors will be engaged within the sector, but more importantly, to levy a certain amount of money in terms of percentage, especially for the big waste generators, like the ones who manufacture bottles and those manufacturing plastic bags, that are degrading the environment.
They also tasked the Parliament to take this call in terms of developing a national policy that will also improve the working environment of waste workers since the majority of them are currently working without contracts, nor protective gears.