LAHORE: Lahore Waste Management Company (LWMC) struggles to maintain cleanliness in the provincial capital as statements over cooperation with Turkish contractors paint a different picture.
Turkish companies responsible for garbage collection in Lahore have stopped working for the past five days over non-payment of arrears by the LWMC. The contractors, Albayrak and Ozpak, claim unpaid balance of Rs3 billion against the waste management services provided to the government entity.
The companies refused to continue work as per their contract, expiring in 2020, unless payments were cleared. So far, contract renewal of these companies is not in the pipeline, the sources revealed.
As opposed to the claims made by the contractors, authorities have said that all matters including the clearance of the dues have been settled.
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Sources told The Express Tribune that 3% fine on payments has also been imposed on the Turkish companies for not fulfilling their contractual obligations.
Despite affirmations from the government, garbage collection is not being undertaken and all 276 union councils of Lahore are filled with heaps of garbage.
The residents complain of foul odour causing olfactory and respiratory stress.
These waste piles pose a high health risk for the citizens by providing food and breeding ground to the pests and hosting several diseases.
LWMC Managing Director Rao Imtiaz Ahmad continues to assert that proper trash disposal has started in at least 135 union councils of Lahore.
“Lack of machinery needed to clear the entire city has resulted in the delay of the cleaning operation,” he added. He said that ten thousand sanitary workers and officials have been deployed on the field to clear the waste from the metropolis.
“Lahore would be holistically cleaned in a couple of days!” he promised. An official statement issued by the LWMC spokesperson said more than 16,000 tonnes of garbage has been cleared out from the city to date.
“Action is being taken on the complaints made by the citizens on a priority basis. The cleaning operation is fully functional, with garbage being collected from the city daily in an environmentally friendly manner.”
“All machinery of LWMC and international contractors are present in the field and the waste is being collected,” he added.
He further said zero waste operation continues unabated in the provincial capital. On the ground, reality strikes hard as trash piles up in Mozang, Anarkali, Gulberg, Old City, Data Town and other areas raising concerns regarding the actual performance of the authorities.
Claims of environmentally friendly disposal of waste are also questionable. Trash is neither sorted nor disposed of correctly by the waste management company.
Even the notice taken by the chief minister could not guarantee a clean provincial capital. Lately, Lahore Waste Management Company also issued a Christmas cleaning plan.
Special cleanliness routine was undertaken in the vicinity of Christian places of worship, neighbourhoods, and important routes.
Prominent churches and areas were also cleared given the Christmas celebration on December 25.
LWMC paid special attention to Christmas markets as well wherein more than 50 dedicated workers were deployed along with the necessary machinery. The staff will conduct cleaning in two shifts.
Over 650 additional helpers and 350 machinery units were deputed all over the metropolitan that lifted as much as 5,000 tonnes of waste.
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The operation was overseen by the LWMC MD and Chairperson to ascertain timely completion.
“It is our prime responsibility to serve the city by making sure citizens are breathing in the clean and waste-free environment,” he said.
He added that the department is strictly observing zero-tolerance policy and no officer or worker will be spared over negligence from work.
The authorities have also instructed the staff to empty trash containers at popular locations and attraction sites on time.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 26th, 2019.