Past mismanagement, resource shortage to blame for slow trash collection — GAM official

by Laila Azzeh | Jul 16, 2012 |

AMMAN — In a city once reputed for its cleanliness, residents say the state of Amman’s sanitation services is deteriorating, which one local official blamed on years of “weak” governance.

Citizens from east and west Amman alike say that trash is rotting in their neighbourhoods, causing bad odours and attracting flies, even though they pay sanitation fees as part of their monthly water bills.

“Amman was never like this before. The piles of trash are so high that we can no longer walk in the streets,” Bilal Abu Haija, who lives in the Tlaa Al Ali neighbourhood, told The Jordan Times.

Osama Rabadi, who works in the UAE, said the sanitation condition in Amman took him by surprise when he returned for a visit.

“I would never imagine in a thousand years that Amman’s streets would be this dirty,” said the mechanical engineer, who is visiting his parents in Ashrafieh.

Concerned about the health hazards of the accumulated waste rather than the cosmetic effects, Seham Obeidat said she had forbidden her visiting grandchildren from playing outside out of fear that they would catch diseases.

“We wait for three days or so for the garbage collector to come. Flies are everywhere and the neighbourhood stinks now… We even stopped sitting on the balcony,” the 7th Circle area resident said, adding that the waste coming from a fish restaurant located behind her house “adds insult to injury”.

Director of the Greater Amman Municipality’s (GAM) waste operations department Mohammad Amaireh said the municipality’s fleet of garbage trucks, which used to include 270 vehicles serving 27 areas, has not been replaced or refurbished in five years.

In addition, he said, the department has not bought new garbage containers or spare parts for trash compactors since 2007, nor has it hired new sanitation workers.

“We inherited only 100 garbage trucks from the previous administration as the rest are completely disabled. Even the remaining trucks are only running at half their capacity and are in dire need of maintenance,” Amaireh told The Jordan Times on Monday.

“The life expectancy for such vehicles is 15 years as long as they work for only several hours a day, but the fact that they have been operating 24 hours a day for about six years cut their lifespan by two-thirds,” he highlighted.

Amaireh added that 4,000 cleaners are now in service, working in three shifts around-the-clock to collect garbage, while an additional 500 will be hired soon.

“There is so much load on us now,” he indicated, saying that GAM has floated a JD14.5 million tender to renew the fleet.

With 800,000 cars expected to enter Amman by the end of the summer, more than half-a-million of which have already arrived, Amaireh noted that the municipality is facing an especially severe problem with littering.

He also called on citizens to place their garbage in dumpsters at a certain time each day rather than leaving it in the street.

“People’s behaviour is adding more burden on us,” he said. “We urge citizens to stop throwing their garbage from cars and placing trash outside their apartments instead of dumping it in the designated places.”