Neglected Mbale Recycling Facility: A Multibillion Project Left to Decay

Mbale garbage recycling plant
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The Shs1.2 billion Mbale garbage recycling plant, established in 2007 at Doko in Mbale Industrial City Division, has been left abandoned and vandalized, raising concerns about the city’s waste management. The facility, launched by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) in 2009 as part of an agreement with the World Bank to address solid waste challenges and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, aimed to provide affordable fertilizer to farmers.

A recent visit to the site revealed a sorry state of the plant, with the road blocked by heaps of garbage, buildings without roofs, and the area overgrown with bushes. Former workers noted that the facility faced neglect after a hailstorm damaged the buildings around 2010, and there were no repairs.

Mbale council leaders were criticized for failing to adhere to the agreement with NEMA, which stipulated that the council would manage garbage collection. The World Bank-funded plant was meant to play a crucial role in recycling waste into manure for agricultural use.

Various leaders, including Mr. Musa Kasajja, the speaker of Mbale Industrial City Division, expressed disappointment in the city council’s inability to manage the recycling plant. Allegations of mismanagement were raised, with claims that funds allocated for opening the road to the site were not utilized appropriately.

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Former deputy speaker Mr. Yasin Kawanguzi pointed out that the project lacked priority from authorities, leading to its failure. The city council faced accusations of contracting companies with insufficient capacity for garbage collection, resulting in overcharging residents and improper waste disposal practices.

Mr. James Kutosi, the spokesperson of Mbale City Council, confirmed the abandonment of the project, citing inappropriate technology and difficulties in managing costs. The council faced legal issues with a contractor, leading to an accumulated debt of Shs165 million.

In 2019, the council signed a deal with a Swedish investor to convert waste into energy, but the project’s commencement was delayed, with Mr. Kutosi attributing it to the outbreak of Covid-19.

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