Disposal of contagious waste
Waste disposal is not a plus point for people in this part of the world. The tendency of littering home premises, dumping garbage hither and thither is mostly ingrained with the majority of the people. Torn papers, all kinds of rejected packets and bags - irrespective of paper, polythene and plastic - are mindlessly thrown away almost anywhere and everywhere by the public. In some of the Southeast Asian countries like Singapore, not only throwing any such waste material but even spitting on the street is an offence for which the offender has to pay fines. City corporations and municipalities - particularly the latter - are yet to come to terms with the disposal of waste in any efficient manner. Employees of 327 municipalities of the country held for weeks a sit-in strike in front of the National Press Club for non-payment of their salaries and wages for years - from two years to seven years depending on their nature of service. This speaks volumes for waste management in the country.
Compared to the mess created in service regulations of municipal employees including cleaners and drivers of garbage-carrying vehicles, the civic service in city corporations is much better. But still it leaves much to be desired. The issue of waste materials from hospitals has ever remained nightmarish. Sometimes used syringes, saline bags, blood transfusion tubes etc.; are found dumped nearby a few hospitals and ragpickers collect those unaware of the danger they are exposed to when they come in contact with those. There are certain kinds of hospital waste that need specialised incineration. Not many hospitals have facilities for this or follow the specific rules to do so. Some burn the material in open spaces. When hospitals show indifference to safe and efficient waste disposal, the common people are unlikely to be aware of the danger involved in disposal of corona kits and protective equipment.
Now the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) has asked its residents not to mix contagious waste materials with household refuse. The two should be put in separate disposal bags and the contagious types would be separately collected on Saturdays and Tuesdays. This certainly is a very good move on the part of the DNCC. But the warning the mayor has reportedly issued is rather unwarranted. His warning is that waste from households that fail to do so from July 7 would not be collected. So far as the warning is concerned, there is nothing wrong with it but for the timing.
The residents of DNCC or DSCC must come to know about the initiative first. There is a need for extensive publicity of this before residents can be punished for not complying with the directive. Also, there is no point for setting aside only two days a week for collection of contagious waste materials. Since the DNCC is going to supply separate bags for depositing contagious PPE, masks, gloves etc.; those can be collected regularly in separate chambers of carriers, following non-contamination protocols. Such a decision should have been taken by both city corporations well before the users of such gears have become accustomed to dumping those in the open. What about the huge rejected piles already accumulated? Those also warrant safe disposal.