Saturday, April 7, 2018

Its 'Perfectly Acceptable' To Dump Your Rubbish On Kampala's Streets

Greg is a friend I have known since 2007, when he came to Uganda from South Africa to take up the position of General Manager at Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort. As an expatriate, Greg perceptibly glided in with expatriate philosophies and top on his list, was that of cleanliness. Greg doesn’t like litter and abhors folk who litter. 

Greg Petzer In Forefront
When he strolled the grounds of the resort and came across litter – be it a crumpled-up bit of paper, sweet wrappers or cigarette butts, he would stop, pick them up and duly deposit them in the nearest dustbin.

Let’s pause a tad while I usher in Akhilesh, who I have known much longer than Greg and who is the amiable Deputy General Manager at Speke Resort Munyonyo. During the build-up to CHOGM in 2007, Akhilesh and I would retreat to the balconies of the apartments above the Viking Bar to rest our legs and have a breather.

From our vantage point that gave an almost panoramic view of the resort, we would look down and spy Greg doing his rounds which of course, included him picking up whatever litter he came across. As he walked past Viking bar, from our balcony, we would litter – drop crumpled paper and sure enough, Greg would stop, pick it up and put it in the bin. If there was no bin, it would go into his pocket to be off-loaded at a later stage.

On his way back from his rounds, yet again he would find more crumpled paper and without disinclination, would stop, pick it up and get rid of it. It took him weeks to realise that Akhilesh and I were playing games with him and I don’t think he found it amusing.

Akhilesh Malik
Uganda needs people like Greg. The way Ugandans see Uganda, is that of one huge dustbin where rubbish can be discarded anywhere and with not a care in the world. There is an old lady – employed by KCCA, who at 6:00am, is on the streets of Industrial Area between Mantrac and Gapco toiling away to rid the area of rubbish. It’s a backbreaking job she does daily in between inhaling dust and exhaust fumes from the line of tankers waiting to offload fuel and while she toils, most passing motorists never notice her.

That stretch of road becomes a litters nirvana especially in the early hours of the morning for those dropping off kids at school. It’s a mutedly lit street that affords the perfect cover for getting rid of rubbish without attracting attention.

It’s one thing tossing out the odd bit of chewing gum paper or cigarette butt from your car, but honestly, there are people who go beyond ‘reasonable littering’ – if at all reasonable littering is acceptable. Some go as far as hurling plastic bags of rubbish. Others empty out rubbish from a plastic bag but bizarrely enough, go to great lengths to retain the plastic bag – I presume for use the following day.

Meanwhile, area at the junctions of Nile Avenue and Coville Street, look like a bomb site most mornings because of a makeshift bar that props up during the night to cater for Prostitute, Client and Boda Man operating in the area. The makeshift bar comes with a bench and is stocked with cut price drinks.

The Morning After At The Junction of Coville Street and Nile Avenue
Okay, so KCCA have a huge green plastic bin positioned less than 50-yards from the ‘bar’ but, the use of the bin is not known to the patrons of the bar – probably because they know KCCA Road Sweeper will show up every morning to do the needful – that of sweeping up the empty plastic waragi bottles, Bond 7 tot packs and condom wrappers that they shamelessly left behind without thought for the rest of us who don’t litter, to wade through. 

I expect some people would have taken the title to this ramble - Its 'Perfectly Acceptable' To Dump Your Rubbish On Kampala's Streets literally. So for the record, it is NOT!  

Pictures:  Akhilesh Malik      



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