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Dhaka Tribune

Dhaka’s missing waste bins are coming back, at a price

In 2016, the city corporations installed around 6,700 waste bins to promote cleanliness and encourage citizens to be more mindful

Update : 10 May 2019, 11:48 PM

Dhaka’s two city corporations are planning to re-install waste bins in the capital three years after most of them disappeared without a trace.

In 2016, the city corporations installed around 6,700 waste bins to promote cleanliness and encourage citizens to be more mindful. But over 80% of them just disappeared – mostly reported stolen – while the others fell into disrepair due to neglect.

The authorities claim only half the bins were stolen and the rest have been unused. But they did not explain why they would re-install all the bins if the other half were still in their original locations.

Where the few waste bins endured, they have indeed remained neglected as citizens prefer throwing their trash on the roads or the pavement or the drainage system. And where the bins have not endured, the cobalt-blue stands are the only sign they were ever there.

Money gone to waste

The Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) officials claim they installed 5,700 of the bins, but could not provide the cost.

According to MA Razzak, chief waste management officer with the DNCC, the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) installed 1,000 of the same bins, each costing an average of Tk6,700.

If the DSCC bins are considered to have been purchased at roughly the same price as the DNCC bins, the 6,700 bins will have had cost Tk4.49 crore – a cost that might be re-incurred if the authorities proceed in the same manner.

Experts raised concerns over the re-installing the bin, stressing the need for a proper survey or assessment before repeating the same project again to prevent public money from going to waste, again.

A story of failure

Urban planners believe the core reason behind the failure of the original plan was the lack of an assessment before implementation and lack of public awareness.

Centre for Urban Studies (CUS) Chairman Prof Nazrul Islam said authorities should have done a pre-assessment before launching a new idea to avoid any mistakes.

He added: “The government and responsible authorities should have, created public awareness, before placing bins in their responsibility to get them accustomed to the system.”

However, the consensus among urban planners is that installing the bins without a solid plan was a massive mistake by the city corporation authorities. Without any public involvement or community outreach, the neglect blossomed into the stark failure that has resulted into the disappearance of nearly 6,700 bins.

New approaches

The DNCC is planning a comeback for the bins within two months under a project called “Two Trees One Dustbin.” DNCC Mayor Atiqul Islam said storeowners and homeowners will pay for their own bins, which will be designed by the DNCC.

He also said: “I hope they will accept this as their own property. Afterwards, we will place them strategically to sustain them.”

But the DNCC did not reveal any plans for a survey. The DSCC however, has plans for a survey on an effective model for sustainable bins, which will be followed by their own re-installation project, according to DSCC Chief Executive Officer Mostafizur Rahman. 

Yet how many bins will be installed this time, none of the city corporations could reveal.

Stolen by drug abusers

Md Zahid Hossain, chief waste management officer of the DSCC told Dhaka tribune that drug abusers stole nearly half the bins. He claimed the rest were used regularly by people, and also claimed the money did not go to waste.

DNCC Chief Waste Management Officer Razzak said a comprehensive plan is required to determine the placement of the bins to make them the most effective. He said the city corporation authorities can do regular maintenance and follow-ups if there is a detailed plan and map of all the bins in Dhaka.

Earlier the bins were installed every 150 metres in densely populated areas and 300 metres apart for less densely-populated areas.

The DNCC mayor claimed people do not use the pavement, and that is why the bins on the pavement go unused. 

He suggested strong anti-littering laws in Bangladesh with heavy penalties to persuade people to use the bins. 

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