Durban - Recycling-conscious Durban residents have been left frustrated and angry as the supply of orange, blue and black refuse bags continue to be handed out in dribs and drabs - or not at all - by the municipality.
Residents who have been billed monthly for the service are calling for a full refund since they have not received the bags in months.
They said they had been forced to abandon their recycling initiatives and pack all their rubbish into black bags for Durban Solid Waste (DSW) to remove.
The issue spans across a number of suburbs, including Glenwood, the Bluff, Durban North, Hillcrest, Phoenix and Westville.
The Mercury has been covering the refuse bags woes saga in the city. However, residents said there had been no viable solution offered to them, “only empty promises”.
The municipality has stringent rules around the way residents dispose of their refuse. Black bags are used for household rubbish, orange bags for recyclable material and blue bags are offered at an extra cost to residents to dispose of garden refuse. The bags are delivered to residents who elected to receive them for an additional fee of R66.70, excluding VAT, which is added to their municipal bill.
The bags are also meant to be available for purchase at some petrol stations, retail chain stores and nurseries, but some residents said they had not been available for months.
City spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela acknowledged that the municipality had been experiencing “minor” challenges with regards to refuse bags.
“We have since resolved the matter and we are expecting the situation to be back to normal soon. We have engaged extensively with our suppliers and we sincerely apologise to all our residents for the inconvenience this has caused.
“The city subscribes to recycling and it still urges residents to subscribe to the concept of recycling,” Mayisela said.
IFP executive member in council, Mdu Nkosi, told The Mercury that he had been fielding many calls from frustrated residents over this issue.
He called on the city to act on the recommendations made in a forensic report in 2018 regarding the tender to supply orange bags. The city was criticised after a forensic investigation revealed that a contract for the supply of orange recycling bags to the city had been awarded to a company that lacked experience and technical knowledge.
“The report spoke of maladministration and corruption, but no one had been taken to task over this, so I am not surprised if this is a new company running this contract, they would be doing it haphazardly,” Nkosi said.
DA caucus leader Nicole Graham said she found that the issues were with the supply chain management department. However, she was assured at the beginning of last month that the matter had been resolved.
An online poll conducted by The Mercury yesterday resulted in more than 100 comments made by readers regarding their frustrations.
Vincent Hathway said he had not received orange bags for more than two years, and if he was lucky, he would receive a pack of blue bags every three to four months.
Alvina Rampersad from Stoneham in Phoenix said she had not received any DSW bags since last year.
Sibusiso Shezi said he “gave up” after he did not receive orange bags for about a year.
Mary de Haas said the city was not serious about recycling if they couldn’t assist residents. She said she had changed her lifestyle to make an effort to buy recyclable products, “but what is the use if we can’t recycle it in Durban?”
The Mercury’s online poll also revealed that the prices of DSW bags varied at different stores and garages.
After receiving this information, Mayisela said DSW was yesterday instructed to launch an investigation into the discrepancies.
“It is difficult to dictate to the shop owners how much they should charge. However, the pricing should not be at exorbitant rates and differ so extremely in each store,” Mayisela said.
Mayisela added that residents were also permitted to dispose of one bakkie- load of garden refuse a week, for free, at any DSW garden refuse sites.
Residents can access the full list of depots on the city’s website.