Chinese firm collecting garbage 8.5 times more costly for Sindh govt

DMC South used to pay Rs320 per tonne while Chinese firm will be paid $26 per tonne

Oonib Azam February 25, 2017
Heap of garbage lying alongside a road in Karachi. According to DMC South Chairman Malik Fayyaz, District South generates 1,300 tonnes of garbage per day. PHOTO: MOHAMMAD SAQIB

KARACHI: The collection of garbage in District South by a Chinese firm is going to be 8.5 times more costly for the Sindh government as compared to what it the District Municipal Corporation (DMC) South was paying for the service.

Local Government Minister Jam Khan Shoro has announced that the Sindh government will pay $26 per tonne to Changyi Kangjie Sanitation Engineering Company to lift garbage in the district. Earlier, according to DMC South Municipal Commissioner Muhammad Afaaq, they were spending Rs320 per tonne for garbage collection.

Once the Chinese company takes over, garbage collection will be transferred to the Sindh Solid Waste Management Board (SSWMB) from DMC South. DMC South is the first municipality in the city to have signed an agreement for the purpose. According to DMC South Chairman Malik Fayyaz, a council resolution was needed to sign such an agreement, which was passed after a briefing from the SSWMB on how they will operate in their district through the Chinese company.

Cost breakdown

According to Fayyaz, District South generates 1,300 tonnes of garbage per day. If the Sindh government starts paying $26 (approximately Rs2,700) per tonne to the Chinese company for lifting garbage, it will cost them Rs3.52 million per day, Rs106 million per month and Rs1.2 billion yearly.

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SSWMB Managing Director Dr AD Sajnani told The Express Tribune that District South has roughly 0.2 million tonnes of garbage in the pile-up, which is also present inside the nullahs and in several other big grounds, which will take three to four months for the Chinese company to clean. If this is taken into account, the Sindh government will have to pay Rs535 million to the Chinese firm just to clean the pile-up.

Urban Resource Centre's Zahid Farooqi commented that due to corruption and mismanagement, the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) and the DMCs are not able to lift garbage. The landfill sites, he pointed out, are in far-flung areas, due which it is very difficult to transfer all the garbage of the city there in a day. According to him, this is why garbage has been accumulating.

He was of the view that whatever amount the Sindh government is ready to pay to the Chinese firm, if only a portion of it would have been given to DMCs, the city would have been cleaned more economically.

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The Chinese firm will only be supervising or monitoring the cleaning process while the labour will be Pakistani, he said.

On the other hand, Shehri - Citizens for a Better Environment’s Amber Alibhai said that as long as the city gets cleaned, it doesn't matter who is doing that. She asked if the DMCs had been sleeping for the last many years. She was of the view that, because of the DMCs’ shoddy performance, garbage is ‘till our knees’ in the city. She added that the ‘monopolist behaviour’ of the KMC would end with the involvement of the Chinese firm. "It's not the amount of money; it is the end result that matters,” she said. “Let the market forces decide."

Unclear stance

Despite its opposition to the outsourcing of garbage collection, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) lacks its usual uniformity when it comes to this issue. The party enjoys a majority in East, Korangi, West and Central districts but only District East has given consent for the Chinese company’s involvement. Garbage collection is scheduled to kick off in District South next week. Meanwhile, Central and Korangi districts have vowed to oppose the move.

DMC Central Chairman Rehan Hashmi had told The Express Tribune that they will resist the Chinese company's operations in his district. "Only if half the amount that is being given to the Chinese company is transferred to the DMC, we will uplift [garbage collection] in the entire district," said Hashmi.

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