Railway Road has become a permanent dumping ground for sanitation workers due to the negligence of the Rawalpindi Cantonment Board (RCB) and absence of any permanent dumping site.
Shopkeepers and residents of the nearby locality, Ihata Mithu Khan, claim they have lodged several complaints to RCB officials time and again but any action is yet to be taken.
Heaps of garbage has piled up along Railway Road near Gawalmandi Bridge and a portion of the road has been blocked by the garbage as well.
Muhammad Rasheed, a shopkeeper who runs a small garment shop near the dumping site, told The Express Tribune that people avoid visiting his shop due to the foul smell emitted from the garbage and added that his business had taken a serious hit due to the situation.
He said traffic jams had become a routine in the area, adding that the sanitation workers of RCB and private companies had made it a habit of dumping the waste in the area, instead of clearing the road.
Zubair Ahmad, a resident of the area, said locals had been requesting authorities for clearing the road for the past two years at least, but in vain. He said the residents were perturbed over the official, adding that no one seemed willing to address their complaints. He said piles of garbage were giving an ugly look to the area and had become a nuisance for residents.
Ahmed said RCB had awarded waste management contract to a private company which was least concerned about the problems of residents. Ahmed added that the RCB fails to check the private contractors whether they were fulfilling their responsibilities or not.
Muhammad Shoaib, a medical student and a resident, said many diseases could spread in the locality due to the garbage dumping. He explained that the dumping site was a breading ground for bacteria of all waterborne and airborne diseases, including diarrhoea, cholera and typhoid. Shoaib regretted that the authorities were unable to gauge the enormity of the situation despite several appeals by residents.
Jameel Sadiq, another shopkeeper, said the private waste-management company’s garbage trucks had little capacity and heaps of garbage could not be removed in a single day. Sadiq informed that work on removing the garbage should be started on an emergency basis as the road remains covered with garbage most of the time. He said residents have to clear the road by removing garbage on a self-help basis to keep traffic moving. He added that they were told by RCB officials that it was the responsibility of the private company to remove garbage in the area and the board had nothing to do with it.
An RCB official told The Express Tribune that some areas, including the Railway Road area, had been given to a private company on a contract. He said RCB had no permanent dumping ground and authorities were making false claims to address the issue of solid waste management soon. “How will they solve the problem when they do not even have a dumping site,” he asked.
RCB Deputy Chief Executive Officer Abdul Wahab said a private company was working in the area on contract but the board was not satisfied with its performance. He added that the contract of the company was going to end and they have decided not to renew it again. Wahab claimed they had started sending their garbage trucks in the area to address the situation, adding that RCB had no permanent dumping ground but was trying to acquire land for proper waste disposal.
He said a meeting was held last week for the purpose in which representatives of political parties and the Rawalpindi Waste Management Company also participated.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2014.