HomeLocal NewsTears for Pomona dumpsite foragers as area is sealed off

Tears for Pomona dumpsite foragers as area is sealed off

SYDNEY KAWADZA
FOR a number of years, Danny Chamwakawana woke up early in the morning, bathed and travelled to the Pomona dumpsite, about 15km northeast of Harare, joining hundreds of waste foragers picking various items that would be sold to buyers for recycling.

His daily activities have not earned him the money of his dreams and Chamwakawana, who is also a war collaborator in Zimbabwe’s struggle for liberation, is not happy because his only source of income is under threat.

The government recently announced a partnership with the Netherlands-based Geogenix BV which was contracted to run the controversial Pomona waste management deal for the next 30 years with Harare City Council (HCC) paying over US$240 million during the period.

Geogenix BV, which is operating the Geo Pomona Waste Management (Pvt) Ltd, has sealed off the dumpsite affecting hundreds of foragers whose only source of living is under serious threat.

In an interview recently, Chamwakawana said the foragers, some of whom had set up homes next to the dumpsite, have been earning a living at the site for many years and the new deal is expected to affect even their children who were also benefiting from their activities.

“This is how we have been surviving for years meaning that our children have grown from proceeds from this dumpsite. However, what is happening now means we will lose our means of survival.

“We have been working well with the council for years but what we do not understand is the laws they are using to stop us getting the stuff from the site,” he said.

Chamwakawana said Geo-Pomona employees have been barring them from taking their wares from the dumpsite.

“We don’t know what is special about this deal that the authorities want to cut our only means of earning a living. I am a war collaborator who participated in freeing this country, but I don’t understand what is going on with our leaders today.

“We have a problem that our leaders today want to make money out of our suffering without even considering the consequences of their actions. We are not happy with this decision, but we are planning to approach all government officials so that this problem is resolved,” Chamwakawana said.

A group of women who spoke to the Zimbabwe Independent also bemoaned their pending removal from the site appealing to the new owners to consider making space available for them to work from at the site.

“This is the only place from where we get rentals and fees for our children, but our stuff is not being bought and we are suffering. Our buyers are being blocked from entering the dumpsite,” one of the women said.

Another forager Togara Mupatutse said: “If we are told to leave this place it will affect a lot of people, including those that have been buying from us. This deal has also affected prices of our goods because the buyers are now taking advantage of our desperate situation.”

Mupatutse further said the new arrangement will also affect their plans, especially those that have been working at the dumpsite for years.

“We are hoping that the company that is taking over the dumpsite would give us jobs and pay us wages to improve our lives. Collecting material for recycling is a way of earning a living, but the rates we are getting from the buyers are not good,” he added.

Geo Pomona Waste Management technical manager Albion Bostani, however, said the company would be employing approximately 500 workers with the majority being foragers at the dumpsite.

“Most of the workers we are going to employ when the project is running would be from that group,” he said, adding that while the company was working on setting up the machinery for the energy plant, the foragers would be allowed to continue with their daily activities.

Meanwhile, the fight for control of the Pomona rages on as the Geogenix BV continues with the Pomona Waste Management project despite an HCC resolution suspending the deal.

In a heated full council meeting recently, council set up a special committee to review the deal.

However, addressing journalists during a media tour last week, Geo Pomona’s executive chairperson Delish Nguwaya said nothing had changed and they were going ahead with the project to fulfil their contractual agreement with HCC.

The HCC special committee to review the deal is chaired byZvinechimwe Churu (CCC) councillor Ian Makone.

A special council meeting last month voted for the suspension of the 30-year waste management deal which will see Geogenix BV pocketing over US$240 million at US$22 000 a day from the council for waste deliveries.

However, Local Government permanent secretary Zvinechimwe Churu wrote a letter on June 16 advising that they had rescinded the June 2, 2022 resolution.

Churu also ordered HCC to pay all costs to be incurred by Geo Pomona.

While the two elephants, Zanu PF and CCC, are battling over the deal, not much thought is being given to the ordinary people who were earning a living at the dumpsite.

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