PESHAWAR: Despite the provincial government’s slogan to turn Peshawar into a clean and green city, garbage heaps are a common sight in the old city and elsewhere as the firm responsible for sanitation focuses on posh neighbourhoods only, according to the local people.
It’s been two years since Water and Sanitation Services Peshawar (WSSP), an independent corporate firm owned by government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), was established but citizens are not satisfied with its performance.
“There are heaps of garbage in streets and plots as there is nowhere dedicated for throwing garbage, nor do workers of WSSP bother to come to collect it,” Kashif Khan, a resident of KhushalBagh area of Peshawar, told News Lens Pakistan.
Locals said glutted garbage containers, plots with piles of garbage and choked drains are common in localities like Gulbahar, Dalazak road, Warsak road, old city and other areas of Peshawar.
“WSSP mostly focuses on posh areas and main roads; other than that, in many areas on street level its performance is next to nil,” said Khalid Hussain, a resident of Nishtarabad in Peshawar.
WSSP was established by the provincial government as a corporate firm responsible for sanitation/solid waste management and provision of clean water in the city. The staff of Peshawar Development Authority, University Town Committee and Municipal Corporation, that worked in their own areas on sanitation and waste management, were merged into WSSP.
Hussain said that piles of garbage cause unpleasant smell and diseases in the area. People set these piles on fire to get rid of the problem and to make space for more garbage, he said, but it (burning) also causes environmental pollution and is ultimately hazardous for people.
He said drains in most streets are chocked and water accumulates in the streets and roads but the WSSP workers never visit the area despite complaints.
When approached, Javed Ali, the Public Relations Officer of WSSP, was unaware of the situation. “It is impossible that if an area falls under the jurisdiction of WSSP and its workers do not work there.”
He said that 76 per cent of waste is collected on daily basis from 45 union councils as city produces 810 tons every day. Two years back (before WSSP was established), he said, the waste collection was less than 58 per cent. “So far 55,000 tons of old/permanent dumps have been removed from areas where collection was negative.”
Chief Executive Officer WSSP Muhammad Naeem said that 4500 workers with 182 vehicles were working in field for disposal of solid waste and sanitation management.
He said soon after inauguration of WSSP, new machinery was purchased and staff was hired for sweeping of Ring road, Warsak road, Bara road and different canals traversing through Peshawar city.
To further improve the services, he said, WSSP was hiring 250 more workers and compactors of 22-ton capacity, garbage containers of different capacity and mini dumpers were being added in the fleet time-to-time.
Naeem said that all 45 union councils have been divided in four zones (A,B,C,D) and each zone has 24/7 complaint cell for timely response to the complaints of public.
Khalid, however, said that he had lodged complains many times at the given number of WSSP but to no avail. “Every time I complained, I was told that problem would be solved within hours but not a single time anyone turned up to clean the garbage,” Khalid said.
Khalid fears the situation will get worse after Eid-ul-Azha as there would be a lot of waste from sacrificial animals. Javed Ali said that 2000 staff would be deputed for the three days of Eid-ul-Azha to dispose waste from sacrificial animals. He said a separate dumping site at Hazarkhwani area was being prepared for the purpose.
Muhammad Naeem said that it was due to our exceptional performance that management of areas, which are not under the jurisdiction of WSSP, was also requesting them to takeover waste management services in their areas.
“Keeping in view the performance of WSSP, the provincial government is planning to establish similar bodies in Abbotabad and Mardan,” Naeem said.
This article originally appeared in News Lens and has been reproduced with permission