By LYN V. RAMO
BAGUIO CITY – One year after the city saw stinking garbage piles even in the central business district, city councilors are yet to come up with a permanent solution, prompting a heated discussion that ate up their time during the city council session Monday.
In July 2008, the community adjacent to the dump site in Irisan here barricaded the area preventing dump trucks from emptying garbage until the city held a dialogue with them. As a result the dump site use was extended until end December 2008.
“It is saddening that the garbage problem of the city is far from over,” said a councilor after the city council found that the multi-million hauling of garbage to Capas, Tarlac is costing the city even bigger.
The city purchased 15 second-hand trucks to lessen the hauling costs now placed at some P1.5 million monthly or some P23 million in appropriations for the first half of the year. The first eight trucks cost about P1.5 million each while the next seven at P1.3 million, a difference of P200,000 each for a total of P1.4 million.
City Environment Management Officer Coleen Lacsamana said of the eight trucks purchased earlier this year, six are in running condition while two needs a tuning up or even a change in engines. The seven other trucks which just arrived last week have to be tested for road worthiness before letting these be used for haulage, she added.
Chunky on the budget
The average monthly cost of hauling is P13.5 million, according to City Budget Officer Leticia Clemente during the council session Monday.
One year after the garbage crisis, the city is still needs another P11 million for hauling services up to the end of the year on top of the P23 million already spent for hauling up to end of July, according to City Administrator Peter Fianza, who answered queries from the councilors.
“This is eating up roughly 20% of the city’s annual budget,” said Councilor Perlita Chan-Rondez. The city has a P1 billion budget for 2009. She said somebody has to take charge of the situation.
Moving the stench
In July 2008, Mayor Reinaldo A. Bautista Jr. ordered the closure of the Irisan dump site despite the absence of an engineered sanitary landfill (ESL) for the city’s wastes then estimated at 180 metric tons daily.
This prompted the city to allocate several millions for the hauling of garbage. This year, it allocated another P165 million for the hauling of garbage to Tarlac from May 16 to December 31 2009 while city planners scampered to look for alternative site for the ESL which they have been doing since last year.
Even the purchase of the trucks is turning out to be as costly as hiring a private company to bring the wastes to Tarlac, according to Clemente.
Councilor Rocky Tomas Balisong reacted to a suspicion that the seven trucks bought from Subic, Zambales might even be left to rot at the City Engineering Office compound and came up with his proposal to hold the commissioning of said trucks until a thorough investigation to ascertain the integrity of the engines. These are allegedly 15-year old trucks with tires needing replacements and a canvass to cover the garbage.
“The council decided to buy the trucks because the Task Force Solid Waste Management presented a big margin of savings once we have our own trucks,” Balisong told the media in an interview after the council session.
Until now, the city has no ESL to speak of, with only a site in Mount Sto. Tomas yet to be surveyed and still needing community acceptability.
Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, provides for the setting up of ESLs and the conversion of open dump sites into controlled dumps by end 2003. It detailed the closure of controlled dumps five years after its date of effectivity and the establishment of sanitary landfills.# nordis.net