Waste-pickers to march against Pikitup and City of Johannesburg

02 May 2019 - 07:44 By Iavan Pijoos
There are an estimated 6,000 reclaimers who perform waste-collection work in Johannesburg.
There are an estimated 6,000 reclaimers who perform waste-collection work in Johannesburg.
Image: Supplied

Frustrated waste-collectors are marching against Pikitup and the City of Johannesburg on Thursday, demanding clarity on their futures.

Eva Mokoena, from the African Reclaimers Organisation (ARO), said they started negotiating with the city in 2017 to "recognise the work performed by the reclaimers".

Mokoena said they submitted a draft of demands to the city in October 2018.

"It is what we wanted, because they were telling us about integration. We asked them how do they want integration to work on our side?

"They told us that they would talk to private companies and come back to us," said Mokoena.

She added that progress had "faltered" and left them frustrated.

Mokoena said the city had given workers no credit or compensation for the additional work that had been done to assist in getting reclaimers registered as part of a data-collection process.

"We are tired of that, we are humans too. We are not doing this because it's fun. We want our kids to grow properly, instead of them ending up on the street," she said.

In March, the city's environment department and Pikitup said in a statement that 1,200 informal waste-pickers had been registered as part of an ongoing process.

In South Africa, a report commissioned by the Department of Environmental Affairs estimated that there are 62,147 waste-pickers in the country, of whom about 25,467 operate at kerbside as trolley-pushers, with the remainder operating at landfill sites, said the city's statement.

The city said the objectives of the registration process were to recognise waste-pickers currently in the system for integration into the government's solid waste management system, provide assistance with protective clothing and tools of the trade, as well as identification of waste-pickers who could be considered for training opportunities.

Marchers will gather at Mary Fitzgerald Square on Thursday from 9am. They will proceed to Braamfontein, where they will hand over a memorandum. The organisation is giving the city 14 days to respond to its demands.

According to recycling agencies, South Africa is one of the world leaders when it comes to recycling plastics. The reason for this is largely thanks to waste pickers on the ground making money from recycling trash. Still, the Western Cape says it’s running out of landfill space and something needs to be done to help solve the problem.


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