Plastic bins, this time
No one knows when the trashcans on the pavement in front of the Navy headquarters in the capital were stolen, leaving just the metal frames where the bins used to hang.
Three bins are missing from across the street of the Prime Minister's Office, an area that remains swarming with security and law enforcement personnel round the clock.
During random visits to different city areas over the last month, these correspondents found the trashcans installed only a year and a half ago either missing, turned and tied upside down, and damaged to the point it could not be used.
The two city corporations spent an aggregated Tk 5 crore to set up the bins and the money now appears to have gone down the drain.
Yet, Dhaka South City Corporation intends to go on with repairs and replacements of the damaged and missing trashcans while the Dhaka North City Corporation is thinking about setting up a new set of bins with a different design to “experiment” again.
The city corporations as part of Clean Dhaka Green Dhaka campaign installed around 7,000 bucket-like metal trashcans across the city for garbage that litter the streets and often clog roadside drains.
The initiative was honest, said ABM Badruzzaman, a professor of environmental engineering at Buet, but the authorities lacked the vision and effort to make it sustainable.
“While the authorities demonstrated a slack attitude and apathy towards implementation, management, and supervision of the facility, a section of city dwellers showed sheer lack of civic sense, and these together resulted in the failure of the initiative,” he said.
The bins were not even cleaned and emptied regularly, he said, adding that those should have been made of plastic and not metal as metal has resale value that encouraged vagabonds and rag pickers to steal them.
There were five bins at the DIT Plot intersection in Gendaria but only one is now usable. Among the useless bins, two were hung upside down, one was damaged, and one was missing.
Many of the cans were in deplorable state on Satish Sarkar Road in Gendaria, Sharatgupta Road, and Distilari Road in Dolaikhal, and in front of Gendaria High School.
Alamgir Hossain, a local, said in many cases the selection of the spots for the bins was wrong, which discouraged people from using them.
Asked what their plan was to make the trashcan initiative successful, Commodore MA Razzak, chief waste management officer of DNCC, said, “I don't know what to say.”
The DNCC a year ago found that 186 out of the 1,000 bins installed were either missing or unusable. They did not take any initiative to reinstall or fix those in poor state.
“We are designing a new twin-bin with a lock and plastic cover to prevent damage, theft and breakage and we are going to set up those on an experimental basis,” said Razzak.
The design is being done by a local “small firm”, he said, adding that it was the same firm that installed the current bins.
Additional Chief Waste Management Officer Khandakar Millatul Islam of the DSCC said they had installed the bins on the opinions of local ward councillors as an experiment without a formal study or involvement of urban experts.
They repair and replace the damaged and missing bins but find more and more to fix and reinstall, he said.
He said though bins were meant only for the light waste, like papers, packets of chocolate or biscuits, or water bottles, many dump household garbage and construction materials in them.
In January DSCC Mayor Sayeed Khokon said they had found 220 of the bins stolen and 197 damaged.
He said the metal bins were durable and that they would replace the missing and damaged bins.