Time to fix city's trash
The Bangkok Metropolitan Council on Sept 14 made the right decision to shelve a plan to increase garbage collection fees from 20 baht to 80 baht a month for each city household. Given rising inflation and the high cost of living faced by the public, it's just not the right time.
There's no question that the 20-baht-per-garbage monthly fee, which has been in place for several years, is too low and does not reflect the real cost of garbage collection and disposal, estimated to cost the city some 13 billion baht per year.
Based on the census of three million registered households in Bangkok, if the collection fee is increased to 80 baht per month per household, the revenue to be earned by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) would be 240 million baht per month or 2.88 billion baht annually.
The garbage collection fee issue needs to one day be resolved, but a more immediate challenge that City Hall needs to address is that of garbage reduction, something that doesn't get the attention it deserves.
It's estimated that the average Bangkokian generates about four kilogrammes of trash daily while, for comparison, a Singaporean produces 2.2kg.
Trash management must begin at home or in the office; not with garbage trucks and landfills or incinerators.
The question is how to make the people of Bangkok realise their responsibilities in generating garbage and how they can play an important role in reducing it.
Apart from raising awareness and preaching, City Hall has a duty to make it easier for residents to separate their trash, so it can be made recyclable or non-recyclable which must be incinerated or composted.
Bangkok governor Chadchart Sittipunt's recent ride in a garbage truck may have provided him with an insight into how trash collectors do their dirty job that most people would shun. It's an initial move, but still, it's just scratching the surface of a problem that needs a lot of attention to be effectively managed.
Over the past decades, the BMA's garbage management has been focusing on tail-end solutions for collection and disposal. This emphasis needs to change.
One model that the governor or his administration should take a look at and learn from is how and why Singapore has earned praise for its successful garbage management.
Singapore charges its garbage fees variably with it being based on the amount. It also uses garbage incineration to do away with the trash. It has successful garbage recycling.
This does not mean Bangkok should emulate Singapore's model, which does have drawbacks. But it should give inspiration to the Bangkok Metropolitan Council on how to make a city look clean, green, and livable.
The key part though is to have Bangkok residents feel the need to be part of the solution so they will play an active role in solving the problem. The way to make this a reality begins with efforts by the BMA and the governor to guide the public on how to handle their rubbish properly.
Bangkok Post editorial column
These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.
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