Monday, September 24, 2012

HEPCA's New Waste Removal Programme

For those living in the Red Sea, HEPCA is a well-known name. Originally founded to help protect and conserve the Red Sea environment, in Hurghada they have also become synonymous with refuse removal and solid waste management.

Rubbish in Egypt is not a new phenomenon, but with Hurghada being such a popular tourist destination the last thing we want everyone to see are piles of rubbish on all the street corners. To try to help alleviate some of these problems, when HEPCA took over the responsibility for rubbish collection in February of 2011 they distributed over 500 individual 770 litre capacity red bins. They were dotted throughout the city; in fact I have three on my street itself.

HEPCA's new 1,200 litre bins
A number of problems arose with these bins however. Within a few weeks people were reporting  that the bins were being stolen. As individuals in one area, Hadaba were expected to purchase the small wheelie bins it doesn't take a great leap of imagination to think the bins were being sold on. Other bins were vandalized or left damaged, many with holes at the base of the bins rendering them virtually useless as a trash container. On our street the bins became "cat houses" and the cats themselves would get into them and spread the litter everywhere. When I asked HEPCA about these bins, they told me "Since that time [Feb. 2011] more than 350 of these have been stolen, vandalized, set on fire, utilized as water tanks and a myriad other uses other than the one for which they were intended."

In an attempt to alleviate the problems that arose with the 770 litre bins, HEPCA has just rolled out new 1,200 litre capacity bins. These stand out from the old ones in a number of ways. Firstly, for anyone that has lived in a larger Western city, they are what we would know as "good old dumpsters." Secondly, having been constructed out of solid metal they are much more difficult to move and therefore less likely to be stolen. Finally, they are fire retardant to prevent any random acts of individuals who set them ablaze.

Commenting on the roll-out of the new bins, HEPCA's Denise said: "140 of these new bins are already in place in Sekalla and El Dahar with 160 more to be delivered in batches over the next few weeks. As they arrive they will be placed in areas which currently are very sparely supplied and also used to replace the older plastic containers as they break, or simply “vanish” ..."

In addition to the new bins, HEPCA has launched an initiative to clear up the rubble from the streets. Although it is not their legal responsibility and that responsibility in fact lies with the owner of the building, walk any myriad of streets in Hurghada and you'll find mountains of rubble everywhere. In fact, pictured below is just across from my house. During construction the workers would wheel this out in wheelbarrows and simply dump into the street. It blocked traffic for over a day until people that actually lived in the street decided to get together and move it. If whomever owns this building just happens to read upon this blog, shame on you.

This rubble has sat here obstructing
our street for over 6 months now!

HEPCA's website describes this "rubble initiative" saying:

"...It is the legal responsibility of the owner to ensure that all debris, rubble, unused materials and the like are removed from the site (and the surrounding area which has most likely also been contaminated) and furthermore to dispose of it in the location designated and provided for this purpose by the City Council. One or both of these actions are all too often ignored ... The City Council has acknowledged that the situation is out of control and therefore in consultation with HEPCA has now started an extensive programme which will continue through the coming months to clear all the highways, roads, streets and pathways of Hurghada ... Already underway the campaign will comprise up to 8 loaders/diggers and 8 tipper trucks working full time to achieve the goal of a rubble-free Hurghada."

I know that I for one wish them the best of luck with this initiative. But at the end of the day it's up to each individual to help make an impact. Even if it means using fabric bags for your shopping rather than the plastic bags, or sorting out your recycling for the guys that come dumpster diving for the bottles, every little bit counts. And now that we actually have designated dumpsters for the disposal of rubbish, encourage people to use them! As long as individuals continue to just throw rubbish out of their windows, or the front of their houses or even the small alleyways we will never see an end to this problem. HEPCA can only do so much, the rest is up to you. 

1 comment:

  1. Its disgusting to see when companies are done doing work such as a contractor's job and their crew refuses to dispose of the mound of absolute rubble and rubbish. It really grinds my gears.

    -Eleuterio Martinez