The garbage management service of the two city corporations has reached such a pitiable state that many of the city streets are found with heaps of waste in the open, emitting foul odour and causing public nuisance till late every day.
The city service managers, however, blame mainly the shortage of land for setting up primary garbage collection points, from where the wastes are collected for final disposal. Shortage of manpower and vehicles is another hurdle to proper waste management, they say.
According to the city corporations, the city generates 5,000 tonnes of garbage every day of which at least 500 tonnes remain uncollected and are found lying on the streets, drains or footpaths. The actual quantity, however, would be two to three times higher, officials said on condition of anonymity.
One can see heaps of stinking garbage even in a posh and well-maintained area like in front of the Thai embassy on Pragati Sarani. Similar heaps can be found in at least two other spots on the same road. People say Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) collects the wastes only sometimes, making it almost impossible for people to pass the spots without getting fretted.
A private company named Multi International is responsible for collecting garbage from the area. The company, however, does not want to take the blame.
"As there is space for primary garbage collection point here, we use the road as temporary dumping ground," said Saiful Islam, supervisor of Multi International.
A similar spot has been there on the busy road near Taltola Bus Stand area for more than five years.
Roads at many other busy spots, including Mirpur-10 roundabout and Bahadurshah Park, have such dumping spots, eyesores to commuters.
The city corporations say that they could have kept the city clean if there were space earmarked for setting up transfer stations or primary collection points.
They say they need at least 184 transfer stations, but they have only 14 stations and are acquiring lands for 17 more.
“We asked the Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) several times to provide us with lands but did not get any positive response,” says Captain Bipon Kumar Saha, chief waste management officer of the DNCC.
Immediate past chairman of Rajuk Nurul Huda told the Daily Star that the Rajuk did not have enough lands to offer to the city corporations. It's best that the corporations acquire the spaces on their own.
However, there are other hurdles too.
The two city corporations have around 8,000 street sweepers and drain cleaners around 500 garbage carrying vehicles, including compactors, arm roll container carriers and open trucks.
Around 35 percent of the vehicles need to be phased out as these were in service for over 20 or 25 years and many of them remain out of order almost every day. Besides, 5 to 7 percent workers remain on leave every day due to various reasons, said officials of the corporations.
In a modern city, there is one sweeper for every 1000 people. This means the city needs around 12,000 more sweepers to keep the city clean, said an official of Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC).
Captain Bipon of the DNCC said six compactors and six dump trucks have been added to their garbage carrier fleet last month and 25 more will be purchased in the next three months.
Besides, they asked for 20 container carriers from the government in December and submitted a proposal to Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in August last year for 78 modern garbage carrying vehicles, he said.