* Landfill to be moved to Nyabarongo
* Billions for state-of-the-art waste management plant
KIGALI - After more than seven years since Nyanza landfill became Kigali’s only garbage site, the Ministry of Infrastructure (MININFRA) and the authorities of Kigali City Council, are putting final touches to plans that will see a German company extract methane gas from the site, The New Times can exclusively reveal.
According to the Kigali City Council (KCC) Media Relations Officer, Bruno Rangira, plans to shift the Nyanza landfill received a boost when a German-based company only identified as, WAT showed its interest in extracting methane gas from the site.
“We are in the process of phasing out that landfill but the new development is that WAT has indicated its interest in extracting methane gas from that site,” he said
Wat is already doing business in Rwanda having put up solar panels that serve into RECO’s (Rwanda Energy Company, formerly known as Electrogaz) power grid.
State Minister for Energy, Dr. Albert Butare told members of the Lower Chamber of Parliament last week that the Nyanza landfill receives at least 400 tonnes of waste everyday adding that estimates indicate that the waste would increase three fold in three to five years.
The government hopes to phase out the Nyanza landfill by 2013.
The Lawmakers also heard that MININFRA and KCC plans were joined by United Nations Development Fund (UNDP) and the Germany province of Rhineland Palatinat.
The UNDP will offer technical and financial support to bridge the technical and skills capacity gap required for proper waste management.
Butare informed the lawmakers that the landfill was increasingly posing health threats due to its proximity to the population and the issue of water that continues to emit from it threatening to contaminate water used by the public.
He also pointed out the issue of explosive fires resulting from the methane gas that has accumulated at the bottom of these enormous heaps of waste.
Visit to the Landfill
When The New Times visited the landfill yesterday, the site was billowing with smoke from all corners as truck upon truck dumped trash ranging from used plastic bottles to rotting food. Flies mingled freely with a number of people, including children, who were scavenging through the trash seemingly oblivious of the fire raging in their midst.
Clad in no protective gear other than gum boots, Faustin Umukiza, who has been supervising the “work” at the landfill since 2001, confirms the fires citing an example of a fire that has been raging for the last three months.
“Usually the fires start. Sometimes really huge fires break out here at least twice a year and the city council has to put them out.”
According to Minister Butare, several experts from the University of Fukuoka in Japan and others from Maine, Germany, had indicated that the Nyanza landfill can be renovated and the garbage reduced by covering it with soil to avoid the fires that rage from underneath.
The UNDP recently hired a waste management project specialist who will support KCC to coordinate all activities on a feasibility study.
Umukiza leads a team of 75 people, who he says are originally street children that would turn up to scavenge the site for valuables.
“My team works here every day, from Monday to Saturday, but they still lack the essentials of such a job like gum boots, masks and gloves and yet we are exposed to dangers like needles, glass and expired products,” he said
This was vehemently denied by the KCC’s Environmental Inspector, Geoffrey Kyatuka, who says that his office buys the necessary protective gear though their employees have failed to wear them.
“Of course we protect those people. We buy them protective gear all the time, but the problem is that they are not used to working with it (gear) so they take it off,” he said adding that the last batch of gear had been bought in September.
The City Council charges range from Rfw 3000 to 5000 (depending on the size of the truck) from any individual dumping garbage at the site. Private entities and cooperatives that deal in garbage collection business deal with the council on a contractual basis.
Minister Butare also told lawmakers that experts from a project called “Consolidated Waste Management Project” had completed a masterplan showing how they will protect water, land and atmosphere as they save the methane gas. Thirty hactares of land worth US$2.1 million have already been allocated for the project that will begin next year.
According to information availed from KCC, some US$3 million has been earmarked for the protection of employees who work at the Nyanza landfill and in a period of two months all necessrry measures will have been taken because the City Council is spending lots of money on putting out the fires.
Minister Butare added that the new waste management plant will separate waste that decomposes from that, which does not decompse.
KCC is currrently facing challenges where various waste management activities related to waste collection, waste selection and recycling, and waste dumping, are being conducted by various groups without any harmonized institutional framework.