Cash for Cleanliness Scheme Aims to Sanitize City

By San Yamin Aung 4 December 2014

RANGOON — In a bid to clean up the streets of the former capital, which has suffered neglect in recent decades, Rangoon administrators plan to reward neighborhoods that shine.

Beginning in December, a committee appointed by the city’s administrative body, Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC), will scour the streets to examine each of the 33 townships’ performance in waste management, water sanitation and drainage.

One township will ultimately receive the “Cleanest Township Award,” which comes with a prize of 2.5 million kyats (US$2,500). The prize will be awarded every three months. Cash will be distributed among the winning township’s various municipal staff members.

YCDC member Htin Zaw Win told The Irrawaddy that before transferring garbage collection duties to the private sector, the committee will undertake an assessment of which townships are currently using effective trash-removal systems.

“We plan to grant the city’s garbage collection to private companies, so during the period before that, we will make arrangements to recognize and reward hard work by sanitation workers,” said Htin Zaw Win. “By awarding them, the city will become cleaner.”

Rangoon is the largest city in Burma, with an estimated population of 5 million inhabitants. Much of the city is in dire need of upkeep; a shortage of waste bins and an upsurge in consumer goods result in streets often cluttered with debris. Poor drainage systems lead to flooding during the monsoon season, when stagnant water can sometimes sit for days in congested downtown avenues.

Waste management and sanitation are currently managed by the YCDC, but the committee is looking to outsource. More than 3,800 sanitation workers are currently employed by the city on a day-rate, but only about 700 of them are permanent contracted employees, Htin Zaw Win said.

In the coming months, he added, YCDC will carry out a few extra measures to improve sanitation before any contracts are granted. The committee member said that the city has purchased about 12,000 garbage bins from a German supplier, half of which have already been placed throughout the city. The familiar brick receptacles seen on street corners are being replaced with modern, plastic bins, he added.

Khin win, deputy head of the city’s Pollution Control and Cleansing Department, said the recipient of the first cleanliness award will be selected by the end of the year.

The YCDC is also gearing up for its first citywide elections in late December, when nearly 300 candidates will vie for 115 seats in the district, division and township levels of city management.