REFUSE collection companies contracted to the Harare City Council have continued to suspend their operations following a stand-off over the tariffs they are paid.
The contractors have also accused council of failing to supply them with fuel as agreed.
Investigations by the Zimbabwe Independent reveal that the companies have over the past two weeks sent their drivers home indefinitely claiming that council was not providing fuel.
Town clerk Nomutsa Chideya last week confirmed that refuse collection had stopped because of the price stand-off between council and the contractors.
“Contractors had written to us requesting a review of the bin price and they are waiting for new prices before they can move back into their areas,” Chideya said.
“We paid them last Tuesday and they have promised that they will be moving in to clear the backlog this week. Bin prices have been increased from $92 to $439, with contractors having to procure their own fuel.”
Chideya said at the current cost of fuel council was no longer able to collect refuse twice a week.
Over the past month contractors have not been collecting refuse in the areas allocated to them, creating a health hazard. Council vehicles had to be called into some areas over the past two weekends to alleviate the deteriorating situation.
The Refuse Contractors Association of Zimbabwe (Refcaz) said in a document submitted to council in September that they were facing viability problems because of high inflation.
Refcaz said their general operational costs had gone up by an average 300% since the signing of the contracts earlier this year.
“We have incurred massive increases in all equipment needed to carry out our duty, especially fuel, vehicle parts and an inflation of up to 364%. Under such circumstances, we were forced to adjust our finance charges by a minimum 300%,” the association said.
Refcaz said its members were prepared to procure their own fuel if government would pay them a price commensurate with the expenses they would incur.
“Council should pay a working price, then we will procure fuel from whatever source where it is available,” Refcaz said.
In March this year council contracted five companies – Tony Gara’s Cleansing and Environmental Services, Joel Biggie Matiza’s Encore Consolidated, Oliver Chidawo’s Broadway Services, Miles Zata’s MNF Environmental Services, and Wills Gara’s Davex-corp. But their operations have been the subject of repeated disputes both over money and turf.