OPINIONISTA

Lebogang Maile: Bontle ke Botho: Towards a cleaner and greener Gauteng

Despite being the smallest province, Gauteng generates 35% of South Africa’s waste material, putting pressure on its municipal waste management services. The provincial government remains determined to tackle the problem one municipality at a time.

Owing to the fact that it remains the country’s economic and industrial hub, Gauteng generates as much as 35% of South Africa’s total waste despite the fact that it remains the smallest province by land mass. Waste is an unavoidable by-product of human activity at a social and economic level.

Within contemporary society factors such as urbanisation, population growth, a steadily growing middle class, consumerism and technological advances have contributed to an increase in waste generation and Gauteng, as the heart of the South African economy, has been directly affected by these factors.

The growth of the Gauteng economy, with new developments and investments throughout the province, has put tremendous pressure on municipal waste management services. This has created a backlog in service delivery, aggravated by ageing waste-management infrastructure as well as waste-management resources.

It is for this reason that the Gauteng provincial government recently took its cleaning and greening programme, Bontle ke Botho (BkB), to one of the areas most affected by waste management challenges, Emfuleni. Through our Bontle ke Botho programme, which we have taken throughout the entire province during our term in office, we aim to mobilise our communities and society, in general, to have a greater awareness of environmental issues, which of course directly affect them and their lived conditions. We would also like to encourage our communities to engage in sustainable environmental actions through behavioural changes, stopping littering and the embracing of opportunities within the waste economy, such as recycling in order to generate an income, alleviate poverty and create jobs. We aim to enforce compliance of environmental standards within the industry and big business as we pursue an environmentally-friendly, ecologically astute, sustainable economic development growth path.

BkB hopes to create liveable and environmentally-sustainable residential areas within Gauteng and to restore dignity to our people through ensuring that our townships and cities are kept clean. As the young Ghanaian social activist and founder of the Smart Youth Volunteers Foundation, Lailah Gifty Akita, has highlighted:

The time to clean our city of any dirt begins with individual action for collective clean communities.”

We recently took the BkB programme to Emfuleni, as part of the interventions of the Gauteng provincial government announced by Premier David Makhura, when placing the municipality under administration last year in order to rescue it. We have helped the people of Emfuleni to deal with the waste management backlog and set in place a series of continuous actions that will assist the municipality to manage waste better in the long term. The intervention in Emfuleni consisted of a mass clean-up campaign over eight days involving the community itself and about 400 EPWP workers, as well as the deployment of other resources by the provincial government to attend to the municipality’s waste challenges.

The provincial government will also be deploying resources to all five regions that make up Gauteng, visiting all 529 wards within the province over 12 months in a R220-million programme that will employ 5,290 people (that equates to 10 people per ward) over the same period. We are serious about creating and guaranteeing a clean and green Gauteng in partnership with our communities, industry (big business) and other relevant stakeholders and taking advantage of opportunities within the waste economy to help address some of our developmental challenges.

Since 2014, we have made a lot of progress in supporting and promoting recycling and buy-back centres with facilities such as paper bailers, glass crushers, can bailers, personal protective equipment and forklifts, as well as training waste management cooperatives in order to equip and position them to take advantage of opportunities in the waste economy to earn an income as well as create jobs.

Through the BkB programme, we have made significant strides in promoting environmental education, supporting our people to contribute to the sustainable growth and development of the Gauteng economy and mobilising society to play a meaningful role in ensuring a cleaner, greener Gauteng city region that offers all of its citizens more dignified and amenable living conditions. DM

Lebogang Maile MPL is the Gauteng Member of the Executive Council for Economic Development, Environment, Agriculture and Rural Development. He is also a Provincial Working Committee member of the ANC in Gauteng who is heading up its election campaign within the province.

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