By ROSELYN ELLISON
THINKING globally and acting locally for a clean and beautiful city has been the focus of the Kokopo-Vunamami Urban Local Level Government in East New Britain for many years.
This vision is communicated to the people of Kokopo through billboards and awareness campaigns and for consistency, has been adopted for the 2024 Waste Management Strategy.
The vision has been expanded to involved all residents and businesses so they have a role to play in improved waste management as well as prevention of pollution in Kokopo.
During a consultation held at the Gazelle International Hotel on Oct 9 and 10 to develop a waste management policy for the Islands region Kokopo City Authority manager Freddy Lemeki said the world was experiencing major environmental issues and urban areas have become a focus in many of these issues. Lemeki said that KVULLG has many local environmental issues related to waste management and its rapidly growing economy.
Lemeki said this would increase in number and intensity as Kokopo expanded.
In his brief on the city authority and KVULLG, Lemeki again outlined some of the important areas such as growth and population.
KVULLG consists of 20 wards within a land area of 135.1km2. It’s population is more than 40,000 people with the majority of residents living the city.
Approximately 11,000 live within the garbage service collection areas which include Kokopo town, Vunapope and Takubar.
Lemeki also noted that without current census data on households, the best available information was the urban land tax data.
“There are around 1,000 land tax rate payers which we are assuming to be indicative of the number of households while there are 330 waste tax rate payers placing collection service uptake at about 32 per cent,” said Lemeki.
Lemeki furthermore stated that the KVULLG’s five year development plan 2014-2018 identified improved waste management as a strategic result area.
Some areas need improvement according to the development plan.
With the expanding population of Kokopo, demand for services such as water, sanitation and waste collection is increasing.
The Kokopo city dump together with the waste collection are not managed properly and therefore, seen as a threat to the environment and the town main water source.
The beaches are polluted with standard waste such as shopping bags. It is a combination of environmental pressure together with unqualified and inexperienced officers that lack the financial and technical capacity to conduct environmental planning. This poses a serious threat to Kokopo’s environment.
There is a need to implement the existing environmental regulations, policies and by-laws.
Training and capacity building are also urgently needed for the urban authority staff and elected leaders, as well as awareness for all the urban stakeholders.
Opportunities for broad-based partnerships and income-generating activities should also be explored.
He said only about a third of residents were paying to use the waste collection service.
“Businesses have the option of kerbside collection or self-haul; most businesses are using the KVULLG garbage service as there are no alternative services and spot fines apply to businesses who are dumping waste or incorrectly using the public place bins.”
KVULLG collects waste which is taken to Raniolo dump for disposal.
Informal collection of beverage cans occurs at Raniolo and recyclables are sent to one of the three scrap metal dealers.
Glass is also being recovered occasionally at Raniolo for re-use by a local beverage supplier.
Lemeki also explained that at this stage the waste collection service was not offered to the rural areas due to access challenges and the limited fleet of vehicles.
For Kokopo city and KVULLG there are no options for hazardous or liquid waste management, with business expected to manage these waste stream on site.
Kokopo city has gone into landscaping and beautification programmes.
Lemeki said for the landscaping and beautification programme the KVULLG team was working on the following projects:
- General clean-up and maintenance;
- Re-establish nursery;
- Potting up and re-potting;
- Plant separation and relocation;
- Fruit tree planting within around the vicinity of Kokopo city;
- Shade tree planting around the town area;
- Working on a footpath and pedestrian path connection to the Kokopo main market;
- Other projects for the beautification and landscape team includes;
- Designate and improve pedestrian paths;
- Define pedestrian crossing points
- Improve the area around bus stop shelter;
- Introduce additional avenues of trees and include planting of shade trees;
- Plant out range of under canopy shade plants on the embankment and;
- Building benches and tables using materials like timber, round logs and rock slabs.
So far the beautification team under the KVULLG has implemented a number of landscaping projects.
Compost and charcoal
KVULLG and Kokopo City Authority are not only looking into landscaping and beautification.
Market waste composting and charcoal producting are two other pilot projects for the urban council under its environmental health unit.
In this compost and charcoal project simple investigations are conducted by the KVULLG staff to determine the actual original state of waste and what kind of waste could be used to make valuable compost to grow plants.
So the team surveyed the rubbish from the market collections. Later the team did simple investigations of household waste at the Raniolo dump site.
Waste from the market is mostly organic and can be used as compost to reduce the overall amount of waste in the environment.
The urban council is alrady producing charcoal and compost from the market and household waste each week.
The final products are then sold to the public for K10 per kg of compost and K20 per bag of charcoal.
Kokopo has been declared the fourth city of PNG. Thanks to the ongoing efforts of the KVULLG, it has become a friendly, clean and beautiful city.
Residents and business houses are working together with the city authority to manage waste and prevent pollution so the city is kept safe, clean and beautiful to be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.