x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Cleaner Sharjah streets 'by end of year'

The head of a private company taking over Sharjah's waste collection from municipal authorities has promised cleaner streets by year's end.

The municipality has divided Sharjah into 12 waste-collection zones. Above, a littered street in Rolla.
The municipality has divided Sharjah into 12 waste-collection zones. Above, a littered street in Rolla.

The head of a private company taking over Sharjah's waste collection from municipal authorities has promised cleaner streets by the end of the year. Samer Kamal, the managing director of Bee'ah, responded yesterday to complaints from residents that streets filled with rubbish had become breeding grounds for rats and other vermin.

One area that generated complaints is Shuwayhen, which Bee'ah has not yet assumed responsibility for. It is one of eight remaining sections of the city the company is due to take over before the end of the year. "This is only a matter of a few months," Mr Kamal said. "There is going to be an improvement." The municipality has divided Sharjah into 12 waste-collection areas. Bee'ah took over Al Khan and Al Majaz in mid-January, and has been granted two other densely populated areas.

"We try at first to take over areas that have the most people," Mr Kamal said. "We have four of the 12 areas but they represent almost 60 per cent of the population." Mr Kamal said it would have been "irresponsible" for the company to take on the whole of Sharjah at once. Despite this week's complaints, the company would not speed up the takeover, he said. "The issue is we have a plan we are sticking to, so we can deliver the same quality of service for everybody," he said. "We need to stay the course."

Sharjah Municipality has a stake in Bee'ah, which is a public-private partnership. On Monday, Sultan al Mualla, the director general of the municipality, said hygiene was a top priority. He said Bee'ah should not be blamed for the problems, as it was in the initial stages of reorganising the emirate's waste system. When the takeover is complete, Bee'ah will manage employees and equipment as well as add new machines and training staff. The company has 100 waste-collection trucks and 65 sweepers, 52 of them new, with plans to expand the fleet to 220 vehicles by the end of the year.

Bee'ah also plans to do most of its garbage collection and cleaning at night, so that it will not disturb residents or disrupt traffic. Bee'ah plans to add more rigorous cleaning operations to certain parts of the city, as needed. "The first thing we do is understand what parts of an area are going to be more of a challenge," he said. "We then do an initial clean-up so we can establish a baseline."

Under the company's plans, each street is to be swept either once or twice a week. Waste-collection vehicles will be sent out one to three times a day, depending on how much waste is generated in an area. Bee'ah also runs a recycling programme. So far it has placed 1,500 recycling bins on the streets. The company has set up a toll-free number - 800-Tandeef - for residents to give feedback on street cleaning.

Even as the new system comes into effect, Mr Kamal stressed that residents must still take responsibility for their neighbourhoods - as littering remains a problem in some areas. "We are working with the municipality so that littering becomes an offense you get a ticket for," he said. "This is a process and we are waiting to see it to completion." vtodorova@thenational.ae