Recycling blunder a ‘tender’ issue for City

Ntokozo Mthembu's KwaMashu Buy Back Centre – a waste recycling management centre.
Ntokozo Mthembu's KwaMashu Buy Back Centre – a waste recycling management centre.

THE businessman contracted by the eThekwini Municipality to distribute and collect orange recycling bags from Durban North, uMhlanga and La Lucia this week said he was planning on taking legal action against the city.

Ntokozo Mthembu, who runs Power Rush Trading 209, a waste recycling management centre, said he was fed up.  “Problems started last year when we weren’t getting the number of bags we used to get. From there things got worse because as it stands we are not getting a single bag, which means production has stopped.” 

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The City’s Orange Bag Recycling programme also known as Kerbside Recycling Programme has, in recent months been fraught with glitches after a probe was launched into Durban Solid Waste (DSW) for the alleged irregular awarding of a R90-million orange recycling bag tender.

Last week the City said the case involving irregularities has been handed over to the Financial Misconduct Committee. “The Kerbside Recycling Programme is still running in the buyback / drop off centres around the city, however there is a challenge of the supply of orange bags which is due to the delays in the procurement processes. DSW is currently awaiting finalisation of the SCM processes, prior to commencement of the orange bag supply to the residence.

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“Communication will be sent to all residents once the orange bags are available. We still encourage all our citizens to continue with the recycling and we wish to apologise to all affected citizens who are passionately involved with recycling for the inconvenience caused,” the City said in a statement.

This however is little consolation for Mthembu who said he now has 120 people who are unemployed and cannot make a living. He said the problem was so dire that he will now have to take a loan to continue running his recycling buy back centre.

“I have a signed contract with the City. My business depends on them giving me the bags. Without the bags, the are no recyclables to collect from households which means I am no longer making any profit or even enough money to pay my staff. When the agreement with the City was signed, I also bought new trucks which I now can’t even pay for,” he said. 

Mthembu said he has approached City management trying to find a solution.

“There are actually five of us as recyclers. We have met with DSW management showing them figures of how their issues are affecting us. Each time we met we were promised that we would get the bags as soon as possible. Based on those promises I borrowed money to service the business hoping to pay it back when I get the bags. Little did I know that the City was just making empty promises which have landed me in a debt pit,” added Mthembu. 

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The Northglen News has inundated with calls from concerned residents asking why the orange bags were not being collected anymore.

Mthembu said,”As recyclers we stopped collecting the bags because it was no longer worth it. In areas where we used to collect 25 tons a week we collected less than 100 kilograms.” 

He went on to say his legal team has already started drawing up papers to take legal action against the City.

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