Pretoria - Newly appointed Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Barbara Creecy, accompanied by numerous officials including Gauteng's Economic Development, Agriculture and Environment member of the executive council (MEC) Dr Kgosientso Ramokgopa on Wednesday led a massive community clean-up campaign and tree planting initiative marking World Environment Day in Mamelodi, east of Pretoria.
“President Cyril Ramaphosa launched the Good Deeds Campaign in March, so this is not the first cleaning up campaign, and it will certainly not be the last. We chose this area because there is a municipal landfill site here. There is a regular collection of garbage in this community, but there is also this problem of illegal waste disposal. What is very important is the whole issue of citizen education. One of the things our department is committed to doing more of the citizen education so that we can all understand why illegal waste is not an appropriate form of behaviour,” Creecy said during the clean-up campaign.
“We are looking at how we can mitigate the fact that for some people, they are not yet receiving weekly garbage collection which leads to this problem of illegal dumping.”
Creecy said she believes there are multiple factors spurring illegal dumping, which is rife across South Africa as tonnes of plastic, debris and litter has taken over many vacant areas and corrupted many rivers.
“We only have 66 percent of communities that are receiving weekly waste disposal, 80 percent of communities do have access to waste disposal but it may not be weekly. I think one thing we have to look at is the supplier side of waste disposal. We got to look at citizen behaviour modification. The Good Green Deeds Campaign has a primary emphasis on the issue of citizen behaviour. One of the things I want to see more of is consciousness about environmental issues in our schools. I think if one starts with young people, and we help them understand why environmental issues are everybody’s issue because the deteriorating quality of life affects everybody,” said Creecy.
The government officials including Deputy Environment Minister Maggie Sotyu and City of Tshwane’s acting regional executive director for Region 6 Billy Sepuru, accompanied by a crowd of community members and different employees of the department of environment, forestry and fisheries went around the community picking litter, planting trees and carrying away tonnes of the garbage.
The celebration of World Environment Day began in 1972 and has grown to become one of the main vehicles through which the UN stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and encourages political attention and action.
The department of environment, forestry and fisheries said Wednesday's community clean-up was aimed at raising awareness about waste management and the significance of a clean and safe environment to the health of all South Africans.
African News Agency (ANA)