Rubbish might be piling up in some Nelson Mandela Bay Metro communities because of illegal dumping, but the city has bagged R3m and second prize from the government for being the second-greenest municipality in SA.
The metro came second in the Greenest Municipality Competition for 2019.
Acting mayor Thsonono Buyeye acknowledged on Wednesday that cleanliness was still a major environmental problem.
“We were once the cleanest city in the country and our goal now is to work towards that to make sure all those challenges are addressed,” he said.
“Many organisations have made complaints about rubbish, illegal dumping and litter piling up and we cannot dispute that, but we have put the challenge to the heads of public health to ensure that the city is clean.”
The competition is facilitated by the department of environment, forestry and fishery and award winners receive prize money that has to be used for projects that promote environment projects and green economy initiatives.
With the award, the Bay received R3m, while the overall winner, the City of Johannesburg, received R3.5m.
While residents have accepted part of the blame for the dumping, which is an eyesore around the metro, Missionvale residents said the situation was made worse by the absence of regular refuse collection.
Buyeye said despite the challenges, the city had met the criteria of the competition and was confident the department was capable of handing the awards to qualifying municipalities.
“So this award is a true reflection of what is happening in the country,” he said.
“We are the second-greenest municipality in the country, notwithstanding the challenges that we are well aware of, but this proves that no municipality is perfect and we are also not perfect, but we continue to improve and ensure that our residents live in a habitable environment.”
Buyeye said solutions were needed to ensure the city was clean and the award was a positive start in getting that work started.
He said the R3m would offer a reprieve as the municipality was facing serious budget cuts.
However, department spokesperson Sello Phuroe said the prize money would not go into the municipality coffers but would be used for projects identified for greening initiatives and the department would run the money through the project.
Phuroe said the criteria for the awards were based on efforts made in reducing, recycling and reusing waste materials, energy efficiency and provision of clean, good quality drinking water.
“Municipalities play a crucial role in building climate resilient communities through planning of new residential areas and I should say the city has been the best in the country in terms of providing clean water to the residents,” Phuroe said.
He said there was also a category for local municipalities and that another Eastern Cape municipality, Umzimvubu had come third in that category.