- Dhaka South has 183 dustcarts with 95 drivers
- Dhaka North has 168 garbage trucks with 98 drivers
- 80% of the vehicles do not have fitness certificates
- The trucks stopped daytime operation after two accidents in Nov
After the Dhaka city corporations' garbage trucks killed two persons in separate accidents in November, the authorities strictly enforced the law of not operating garbage trucks in the city during the daytime and stopped allowing unlicensed drivers to operate the trucks.
As a result, the number of garbage trucks carrying garbage from different areas of the city to the landfills decreased and the city's waste management system plunged into disarray.
The city corporations have already been suffering a shortage of drivers compared to the number of garbage trucks at their disposal and end up tasking often cleaning staff to operate the trucks on a daily basis.
Besides, the permanent drivers of the city corporations allegedly hired someone else – often without a driver's licence – for driving the trucks, while they got involved in some other businesses.
A garbage truck driver of Dhaka North told The Business Standard on condition of anonymity that many drivers have been operating the trucks through their associates. Those city corporation drivers are getting paid without actually doing their jobs for years.
Dhaka South City Corporation has 183 garbage trucks, but it has only 95 drivers. Dhaka North City Corporation has 168 garbage trucks for collecting waste and carrying it to the Aminbazar landfill, but they have only 98 drivers. Among them, 20 drivers were employed on a daily wage basis.
Several officials of the two city corporations also said 80% of their vehicles do not have fitness certificates.
Visiting Mirpur, Agargaon, Shewrapara, Mohakhali, Rampura, Gulshan areas in Dhaka North and Bangshal, Jatrabari, Sayedabad, Old Dhaka, Lalbagh and several other areas of Dhaka South, our correspondent found piles of garbage on roadsides.
Taslimul Islam, a resident of Agargaon, told The Business Standard that garbage piles up in secondary transfer stations during the day and after its capacity exhausts, it is dumped on the road in front of the station. Often three-wheeler vans carrying waste from residential areas wait in a long queue in front of the secondary transfer stations throughout the day.
Waste is also dumped on the road in front of the National Zoo in Mirpur. Shimul, a shopkeeper in that area, told TBS that wastes from houses and shops are dumped here at night and in the morning, but it is not cleaned during daytime. The stench spreads throughout the day, so customers do not want to come and sit in the shops.
Sources at Dhaka South City Corporation said their trucks made around 700 trips to collect wastes from different areas in the city and take them to the Matuail landfill. Now they can make a maximum of 510 trips a day as the city corporation has stopped appointing daily-basis drivers.
At present Dhaka South generates about 2,300 tonnes per day, while it can carry 1,900 tonnes to the landfill. As a result, garbage piles up in many places across the city.
Dhaka South Public Relations Officer Mohammad Abu Nasser told TBS that, "Since garbage trucks were not allowed to enter various residential areas of Dhaka South at night, waste from those areas was collected during the day and taken to landfill but now we cannot do it. That is why there is some chaos in normal waste management. We are also moving ahead with the process of recruiting new drivers to solve this crisis."
Asked what steps have been taken to address the waste management crisis, Dhaka South Mayor Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh told TBS, "The drivers we currently have will work in two or three shifts. We are also reviewing the number of vehicles required on a ward basis."
"I am requesting the people of Dhaka to be sympathetic for the temporary difficulties. If you inform us that garbage has piled up somewhere, we will make arrangements for a solution," he added.
Dhaka South has published a circular to recruit 32 drivers for garbage trucks on 8 December.
Commodore SM Sharif-ul Islam, chief waste management officer of Dhaka North, told TBS, "We are not transporting waste in the city during the day since the accidents last month. So we are removing waste from the secondary transfer stations after 7 pm. This is probably causing a little problem."
"As we do not have a sufficient number of drivers, we are appointing several daily-basis drivers. We have applied to the ministry for appointing new drivers. Hopefully, we will be able to overcome the crisis soon," he added.
Naim Hasan, a student of Notre Dame College, was killed in a collision with a garbage truck of South City Corporation in the Gulistan area on 24 November and a man named Ahsan Kabir Khan was killed by a garbage truck of Dhaka North in the Panthapath area on 25 November.
The city corporation trucks violated the ban on the movement of trucks in the city during the day. Besides, none of the drivers involved in those accidents had a license.