GEORGE NEWS - With the former service provider Interwaste out of the picture, George Municipality announced its readiness to step in and collect residents' blue and green bags from 1 September.
This decision has been questioned by a local forum concerned with environmental matters and recycling, Enviro-Watch, who expressed their concern regarding the maintenance of waste management in town.
The forum's chairperson, Francois Kriel, said they have had several enquiries on the collection of recyclables following the announcement that Interwaste has stopped its service delivery due to Covid-19 constraints. Director of Community Services Walter Hendricks, however, said the municipality is ready to start with the recycling service to the community.
"The municipality will temporarily perform the service in-house and will be renting additional trucks (with drivers) and trailers for this purpose," said Hendricks. Workers of the Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP) from other municipal departments will be reallocated to the service.
Hendricks said the tender process for the appointment of a new service provider to perform this role will commence shortly, but may take several months to finalise because of its scope.
Asked why the municipality could not start with the service on 11 August, as was indicated earlier, Hendricks said approval for the department to commence the relevant supply chain management processes had been delayed due to circumstances beyond the municipality's control.
Obligations and contracts
Kriel furthermore questioned the fact that Interwaste, that was appointed as a paid service provider in 2018 for a three-year term, gave such sudden notice of their intent to cease the service.
He also said communities are being discouraged to recycle due to irresponsible management and lack of communication. The forum has sent its concerns to the Provincial Department of Environmental Affairs.
According to Hendricks, however, Interwaste had given sufficient notice "as per their service agreement". He said the municipality had hoped that Interwaste would be able to assist for another month in the change-over period between the municipal old and new financial years, as supply chain management processes can only be initiated once the new financial year's funds become available. "The company could not help as they were shutting down their regional offices in George," said Hendricks.
He confirmed that there is indeed funding available in the 2020/2021 budget for the recycling project to continue, but said that the specific amount can't be disclosed since this is an active supply chain process.
"The George Municipality remains committed to reduce waste and will make every effort to remain true to this goal in the face of ongoing Covid-19 and other challenges," said Hendricks.
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