>Thursday – Night Gabbage #sierraleone

>As I mentioned in the first post for Thursday Freetown is a city that never sleeps when it comes to waste management.

Throughout the day the city centre is both a hive of activity (this short video captures some of it) and a congested mass of vehicles. Either way it makes waste collection difficult during the day. The solution is to work through the night to get on top of the waste situation ahead of the following day.

To do this Freetown Waste Management Company (FWMC) and Freetown City Council (FCC) deploy a number of techniques.

First of all are the sweepers. They’re generally women and their task is to sweep the streets and pile up the rubbish.

Then there are those who collect that rubbish and bring it to agreed transit points, generally using one of the 7 or 8 motorised tricycles that FWMC have in operation.

One of the waste vehicles will have been parked at an agreed location and then begins the process of taking the waste off the back of a tricycle, dumping it on the ground behind the vehicle and then transferring it into the lorry. The compactor will then run in the period between tricycles. When it’s full it will go to Kingtom or Kissy and the whole thing will start again.

It is no surprise that the most common faults with the vehicles relate to clutch and starter motor. The vehicles are Mercedes, the nearest stockist is in Guinea and there is no way of getting non-branded equivalent parts meaning that the upkeep and maintenance of the vehicles is almost impossible for the FWMC works team (but more of that later).

The markets are dealt with slightly differently. Six years ago Hull City Council sent 3 ‘vultures’ that were coming out of service to Sierra Leone (there’s a ‘Stuff We Don’t Want’ debate to be visited with regards everything we saw over the last week). FCC controlled these throughout the period of time that the FWMC was in charge of waste. These vehicles were used by the council to keep the market areas tidy. Only one of them is still in service and that had broken down.

So, when we went out on the night collection we saw some pretty precarious activity in the market where waste had begun to pile up in amongst the various food and non-food stalls. You can see from the pictures what the solution was: a big lorry and a two wheeled cart to stand on…

About Benjamin Welby

Hi, I'm Benjamin Welby. I'm a displaced northerner currently living in Croydon, I church with a group of Christians who meet in a Soho nightclub on Wednesdays and I support Bradford City. I've an academic background in History, Politics and International Development. I work for the Government Digital Service but I left my heart in local government. This blog is infrequently updated and may feature any, all or none of these things...