Friday began with rain, and lots of it, but by the time we arrived at the Freetown Waste Management Company's (FWMC) depot the sun was shining and the ground was dry.
The tour of the works yard was fascinating. Led from one constraint to another by the clearly very capable Foday Fornah we saw the Freetown equivalent to Hull's Dalton Street depot. It would be more appropriate to think of it in terms of a graveyard holding the remains of both vehicles and strategic ideas.
I mentioned in a previous post that Hull has something like 60 vehicles for 117,000 households. These five vehicles account for about 40% of FWMC's total vehicular strength. That's to service the waste requirements of 2.5m people. And each of the ones in that picture, as well as another one elsewhere in the depot are in need of repairs placing an ever increasing burden on the vehicles that are working (well, they are for now).
We also saw the carcasses of the two earth moving vehicles that had, once upon a time, kept Kingtom and Kissy under control. Broken down, cannibalised for parts and now just left to rot.
In one corner were the yellow handcarts that had once been used by Klin Salone and other social enterprises to devolve the responsibility of collecting the waste still further. To enthusiastic youths who could collect the garbage and earn money from householders whilst FWMC gave them the tools and disposed of the waste. Because there were reports that some of them were taking money from householders and then dumping the waste round the corner rather than at the agreed sites meant this idea was knocked on the head. And so they sit in the corner of the works yard.
Elsewhere are the remains of these bins. The idea was simple - get some bins, go to retail businesses and charge them a monthly fee for locating the bins on their premises and FWMC will clear the garbage on a regular basis. Not only a way of generating some revenue but a further way of sensitising the Freetown population to use bins where they're provided.
Unfortunately, as you can see, they're completely unsuitable - made from a material that has rusted, without lids and not strong enough to stand the pressures they might have been subjected to. Nobody would pay to have bins like this on their premises. Chalk this one up to the 'former management'.
Given the road network of Freetown and the fact that it's not just streets of houses the solution isn't as simple as providing a fleet of waste compacting vehicles like we would have here. In fact, the way in which waste is being moved from house, to central point, to dump, is an effective principal. So it was a good idea to look at the hand carts and think that a similar role could be met by providing motorised tricycles that could take waste from one site to another. On the Thursday evening we'd seen them in action in the city centre but, once again, the utility of these approaches is let down by the fact there's more to go wrong. Of something like 20 vehicles, only 8 are in service.
We also had a look inside the stores - we saw some spare parts for the vehicles, and a few tyres and a collection of different bins including the familiar wheelie bins (without the wheels). Apparently they're keen to experiment with these bins but the unit cost of approximately $150 was a barrier. This is in contrast to the £30 cost of a bin to us in Hull. As part of our new waste strategy we recently replaced 140 litre blue bins with larger capacity 240 litre ones. They've all been recycled now but could we have usefully sent them here instead? Obviously there's a total cost to be worked out for shipping from here to there and it raises the contentious issue of #SWEDOW ('Stuff We Don't Want') but that's a debate for a blog of its own.
That's an attempt to distil the more important issues identified on our visit to the works yard but you'd really miss out if you didn't get it from Foday Fornah himself. There's a lot of info in these four videos and apologies that neither sound or camerawork is necessarily perfect but it beat taking notes!