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Waste management in the Sebideng District Municipality : a strategy for improved service delivery
Masindi, Khathutshelo Elias
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Waste, that is any matter whether gaseous, liquid or solid or any combination thereof, originating from any residential, commercial or industrial area identified as undesirable or superfluous by-product, emission, residue or remainder of any process or activity tends to be a hazard to the environment. Waste is generated in all processes which transform materials from one state, form or medium to another. The management of waste in the Sedibeng District Municipality is a very complex problem. There are many reasons for this and these include: the diverse and voluminous waste stream; progressive accumulation of waste in the environment; large numbers of unpermitted waste disposal sites; the severe shortage of hazardous waste disposal sites and shortage of personnel in local municipalities qualified to implement existing legislation. The accumulation of waste in the district not only poses a serious and growing threat to health and quality of life, but also causes infrastructural damage such as the blocking of storm water drains and sewer by litter which ultimately leads to costly road and pavement destruction and increase in maintenance costs. The objective of the study was to investigate waste management activities in the Sedibeng District Municipality and to explore best practices as strategies for recommendations. The Sedibeng District Municipality comprises three local municipalities namely the Emfuleni, Lesedi and Midvaal Local Municipalities. Due to the fact that the Municipality forms part of the industrial hub of the Gauteng Province, there has been an excessive influx of the people into the district and, as a result, more houses had to be built and more normal urban services such as electricity, sanitation, water and waste, had to be provided. The study intended to investigate different waste management strategies that are employed by the three local municipalities that could help reduce the impacts and volumes of waste that are generated by residents before such waste could pollute the environment. A further objective was to explore possible waste reduction mechanisms such as recycling that can help reduce waste volumes before they reach the disposal site. Arising from the problem statement on waste management for this study, it is important that the locus of this study be directed towards the solution of the problem on waste management activities in the Sedibeng District Municipality The following hypothesis was accordingly formulated: Waste management strategies and practices as currently practised in the Sedibeng District Municipality are obsolete, outdated and inadequate to attain a cleaner environment and as a result, there is a need to explore the development of more cost effective strategies in waste management. Comparative study of the different strategies that are employed in the three local municipalities as well as the challenges they face when providing the required service, were made. Similar study was applied to the achievements that are recorded as findings of the study. The challenges and success stories highlighted in the study were found through the use of questionnaires that were distributed to respondents in the three local municipalities. Questionnaires for the study were compiled for both councilors and municipal officials. The research instruments for the study included questionnaires, interviews and consultations with members of the community. Further technique was participant observation, the researcher being responsible for the provision of refuse removal services to the Evaton and Sebokeng communities. Amongst others, it was found that: discrepancies existed in the waste management processes and these include the following: • There was a serious problem of personnel shortage in municipalities as a result of financial constraints that led to nonreplacement of personnel who went on retirement, resigned or died; • Existing equipment do not compliment the growing population figures as well as the sizes of the municipality and as a result, residents opted to dump waste at their backyards as an alternative procedure for disposal of waste from their homes, and • Problems attributed to illegal dumping increase each day and their resolution will be a function of implementation of compliance with legislation. • Community awareness of refuse collection schedule is at minimum, a situation which leads to illegal dumping of waste, and • Tariff on refuse removal is deemed to be prohibitive to African residential areas. The study ends with recommendations for management action on waste, and for further research.