Remember some few years back when Davao City was agog with talks about ensuring a clean environment; when what came out in almost every one’s mouth were ways of solid waste management and its environment-friendly disposal; when almost all stretches of city roads were lined with trash bins?
Yes, those were times when every resident of the city from the urban to the upland barangays were called upon to do their share. In fact, to show seriousness in the government’s effort, barangay officials were given specific responsibilities in order to carry out the environment measure to success for the benefit of the city’s population.
That is why we agree with the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (City ENRO) taking to task barangay officials in their failure to ensure that residents under their jurisdiction follow the waste segregation ordinance. Under this local law, biodegradable, non-biodegradable and residual wastes must be segregated when disposed of. In fact, to ensure that the residents will follow, the CENRO has provided labels on the garbage bins strategically located in the city’s roads and in different barangays.
Unfortunately, it appears that the barangay officials seem not to give a damn whether their constituents follow the ordinance or not. In fact we suspect that the barangay officials have not even done inspections on the locations of the garbage bins, nor have they conducted meetings with residents to apprise them of the importance of waste disposal as well as segregation of their garbage.
We say thank you to the CENRO. It is rather late but still, something can be done to address this problem of non-compliance of the segregation ordinance. Those who are collecting the city’s tons of garbage every day deserve some form of respect. They should not be saddled with the additional job of segregating the garbage already placed inside the bins. Their work is to haul the garbage and bring these to the city’s sanitary landfill in New Carmen in the third district right after the boundary with Barangay Magtuod.
And talking of hauling the tons and tons of the city’s garbage we have observed that in the past three months of the existence of the CoViD 19 pandemic the regularity of the garbage hauling has been affected. As a result, some people in residential subdivisions are complaining that there were weeks that their wastes have been piling up and are already deteriorating.
On the other hand, we suspect that sanitary inspectors may have also been hampered in their work by the restriction of movements in this quarantine regime. This assumption of ours came after we have observed that in both approaches to the city’s sanitary landfill, huge piles of recyclable solid waste like plastics, bottles and others, line on the road sides.
We do not have problem with that. After all, scavenging for recyclable materials from the city’s waste has given honorable livelihood to many of its disadvantaged population, even if there is no arguing the fact that the “nangangalakal” are taken advantage many times over by those who are into the recycling business. However, we are aghast at the way the scavengers and those who hired them on daily basis in even less than survival wages, allocate as their depository roadsides of the thickly-populated portions of New Carmen and its neighboring barangay of Magtuod. And when it’s hauling time for their recovered recyclable waste they arbitrarily occupy one lane of the road for their trucks. These trucks load the recovered solid waste such as plastic sacks and bags, empty plastic bottles and other similar items with its toxic smell and dirty particles emitted or blown by the wind. We believe the risk the pollution brings to the health of the residents of the immediate vicinity is too high. And with the prevalence of CoViD 19 the danger of infection could be even be much higher.
We wonder if the barangay officials of Magtuod or New Carmen are keeping their eyes closed on that situation to the point that no one is calling the attention of the employers of the scavengers and those individuals scavenging for their own. We are actually slowly suspecting that the extraction of the recyclables from the haulers upon haulers of garbage, and from those that are already thrown into the dump site could be under the wings of some influential personalities because the barangay officials appear helpless in dealing with the problem.
But no, we are not against people dirtily but honorably doing their livelihood from out of the city’s refuse. What we are against is the abuse by those who we believe are in the position to regulate the indiscriminate dumping of the waste and its residue after taking everything that can be recycled for money.
And for that matter, we are calling the attention of the CENRO to find time to visit the area and see if there is something that can be done such as advising whoever is or are on top of that business there to relocate the segregation site in areas less hazardous to motorists or to the health of nearby residents.
Luckily though, we have yet to hear of monitored positive COVID 19 cases in that part of the city. But should the city’s health or environment authorities wait for such a situation to happen before taking action? We hope not.
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