The Garbage Crisis in Las Tunas Forces the Authorities To Deliver More Fuel to Communal Services

So far, the company has received only 528 gallons of fuel per month, 50% of what it needs

According to official reports, Communal Services has only two tractors to load garbage in the municipality / Periódico 26

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 7 May 2024 — The government of Las Tunas developed a “strategy” to mitigate the crisis of garbage dumps that have been out of control for months in the city. The plan is to deliver to Servicio Comunales (Communal Services) about 793 gallons of diesel, 75% of what they should have monthly, with which the state managed to collect about 14,126 cubic feet of garbage this Saturday.

The rest of the solution consisted of getting “mechanical shovels and trucks from different companies with workers from the popular councils themselves and other entities,” said Periódico 26, which celebrated the garbage collection as a great milestone, despite the fact that the company did not receive all the necessary resources. Until now, the media said, Comunales obtained only 50% of the fuel it requires; its infrastructure is scarce, and its vehicles are, for the most part, in poor condition.

Las Tunas has been crying out for months for the government to take care of the city’s hygiene. The first alternative, conceived months ago, was to hire the horse-cart drivers to collect the garbage, but the disagreements with the drivers over the payments and the hard work left the municipality without collectors. In the province, 252 cart drivers work with Comunales, when, in the provincial capital alone, 659 are needed “to achieve a systematic collection.”

Las Tunas has been crying out for months for the government to take care of the city’s hygiene

Periódico 26, which explained that “this mission will take place until the city is completely clean,” is aware that “such an effort requires the systematic collection of solid waste.” However, it was not clarified where that fuel comes from – a resource that the State cannot deliver easily due to the shortage – and whether the deliveries to Comunales will be made regularly.

Part of the responsibility was also attributed to the inhabitants of the municipality, who were asked for “discipline” to “comply with what is established and ensure the cleanliness of the environment… The new strategy already shows that it may be possible to keep the city clean with institutional support and the population’s behavior,” the newspaper said, despite the fact that the obvious solution is to give Comunales what they need and not exhaust the resources of other companies.

The latest media report on the garbage situation, at the end of April, complained that few cart drivers “have stepped forward to do the work.” Each one is paid 40 pesos per cubic meter of garbage, which means that an average days earning — on the black market, where ordinary people exchange their money — is the equivalent of about $5 US a day. “But they don’t even want to do that work,” the provincial deputy director of Comunales, Eiser Prieto, told Periódico 26.

According to the official newspaper, the population of Las Tunas generates about 33,200 cubic feet of waste per month, most of which should be picked up by Servicio Comunales with two collection trucks and eight tractors, but there are only 2 tractors available. That saturation of garbage, along with the lack of equipment and the risks to both the drivers and the animals of contracting diseases, have overwhelmed the cart drivers.

At the beginning of April, Periódico 26 described Las Tunas as a capital city “full of trash dumps,” with municipalities in full “deterioration” and with leaders who “lack sensitivity” and act only “when they’re told to by the higher authorities.”

It also mentioned “social indisciplines,” such as throwing garbage in any corner, but recognized that “many neighbors have no choice but to throw garbage in the bins even when they are overflowing. What else can they do if there is no fuel and no horse carts?” The newspaper then asked for a salary increase for the cart drivers – “there is no other way” – a measure that should have been taken “many months ago,” it said.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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