Turkish companies Al Bayark and OzPak will help transform the waste management system in Lahore over the next seven years, said Waseem Ajmal, managing director of the Lahore Waste Management Company (LWMC), at a seminar on Wednesday.
Speaking at a seminar titled ‘New solid waste management system and the responsibility of the citizen,’ Ajmal said that Lahore would be divided into two zones – west and east– and the two Turkish companies would each take responsibility to clean one zone.
Ajmal said that under the new system, sanitation workers would be provided uniforms, better safety equipment and higher wages. “Until now, there was no safety equipment for sanitation workers and the washing and sweeping equipment and containers used were over 20 years old,” he said.
Five thousand closed waste containers have been imported, he said, and called for volunteers from among the citizens to prevent them from being stolen once installed around the city. He said that door-to-door collection of waste would also be introduced, and the company would buy space for landfill sites.
Ajmal presented pictures of new vehicles imported for transporting waste. “These are efficient and closed and there will be no littering during the commute,” he said. “The new vehicles imported for washing parks and pavements function through a high pressure technique.”
He said a helpline (1139) to lodge complaints about litter and for its speedy removal had been set up and the cell had dealt with 19,362 complaints already. “We have also signed a waste collection agreement with Waste Busters and a cement company,” he said. The two Turkish companies will start working in Lahore in two to three months, he said.
Biron Topan, managing director of Al Bayrak, urged citizens to cooperate with the government is bringing about a cleaner environment.
Behri Kamal, project coordinator for OzPak, said that the Turkish companies were not just involved in the project for profit, but as a token of appreciation for the Khilafat Movement of the early 20th Century. “We can not forget when the Muslims of South Asia helped Turkey. Our government will always extend its full cooperation, especially towards Lahore,” he said.
Zar Aslam, the founder of The Environment Protection Fund (TEPF), highlighted the work her group has done to clean Lahore.
“We have been engaging schoolchildren collect trash from the dirtiest places in Lahore. It’s a three-point initiative – clean, green and protect,” she said. “We clean the streets and markets and then with the children’s help we plant new trees.”
Aslam urged the participants to boycott use of plastic bags. “One plastic bag we dispose of remains out there for 400 years. If we care about our future generations, then we need to rethink our use of plastic bags,” she said.
Lesco Chairman Ahmad Rafay Alam praised the initiative as a positive step towards tackling pollution and sanitation concerns in Lahore.
Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said that the new system would restore Lahore’s reputation as a city of flowers and gardens. He said that after Lahore, the waste management system would be extended to Gujranwala, Sialkot, Rawalpindi, Multan, Sargodha, Dera Ghazi Khan and Bahawalpur.
Khawaja Hassaan, the chairman of the LWMC, said that Lahoris should be embarrassed about what they had done to the city. He urged the citizens to join hands with the government to make the new system a success.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 8th, 2012.