Pomona to give Harare breath of fresh air

12 Jun, 2022 - 00:06 0 Views
Pomona to give Harare breath of fresh air

The Sunday Mail

OVER the past few weeks, there has been animated chatter about the deal signed between Harare City Council and Geo Pomona Waste Management Company to set up a waste-to-energy plant in Harare. Our News Editor Kuda Bwititi (KB) spoke to Geo Pomona Waste Management Company chairperson Mr Dilesh Nguwaya (DN) to appreciate the nuts and bolts of the project.

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KB: Can you start by giving us a brief background of the Pomona waste-to-energy project?

DN: The Pomona waste-to-energy project is a joint initiative between the Government of Zimbabwe, via City of Harare, and our company, which is in partnership with the Netherlands-based company Geogenix BV. The aim of this project is to assist Harare residents through managing their waste, with the ultimate benefit of electricity generation.

The project is divided into the following project components: Landfill construction for municipal waste — where there is going to be construction of landfill cells for different types of waste like hazardous waste, medical waste and any special type of waste, as these will be treated differently; wastewater treatment plant, where all the water drawn from the waste will be treated for recycling; a sorting and recycling plant, where waste will be sorted and recyclable material such as plastic is removed and go to recycling companies; and the waste-to-energy plant, which is the highlight of this project, where waste will be burnt in a combustion chamber for the sole purpose of electricity generation.

So, the essence of this project is to manage waste and facilitate circularity whilst reducing greenhouse emissions and having electricity as the extra benefit.

KB: How will the Harare residents benefit from this project?

DN: The project will employ over 300 people from Harare to work during implementation and after completion. Upon completion, a recreational park will be part of benefits that residents can look forward to. On the other side, the issue of climate change is a serious concern globally. One of the major benefits of this project is reduction of greenhouse gases and pollution, allowing Harare residents to have a breath of fresh air.

I am sure we can agree that the current situation at the site has been characterised by bad smell and methane emissions into the atmosphere. All this is going to be a thing of the past for Harare residents. Also, power generation and its contribution to the national grid cannot be understated.

KB: When will construction of the plant commence and when is it expected to end?

DN: Currently, there is site preparation taking place to start the first phase of the project, which is covering of the waste and creating landfill cells. If we are on track, we expect the first landfill to be completed within a space of six to eight months from now. The waste-to-energy plant should be installed in the first 36 months and is expected to be fully functional in year five.

KB: Are there examples of similar projects in Africa or any part of the world?

DN: In Africa, there is the Reppie Plant in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which is recorded as a first for the continent. So, the Pomona project is likely going to be within the first top 10 waste-to-energy projects on the continent. Around the world, there are several examples like the Sysav plant in Malmoe, Sweden, Ghaipur in New Delhi India and Tuas One waste-to-energy plant in Singapore, and many more across the world.

KB: May you please outline the project’s funding modalities?

DN: The funding modalities are as set out in the contract. Principally, Geogenix Bv will invest into the project and package it as outlined in the financial model annexed to the contract.

KB: Will implementation of the project mean an end to Harare’s problems of solid waste management?

DN: Speaking from an informed position, completion of this project will certainly see an end to challenges faced by Harare in managing its waste. It will, without doubt, usher in a new era in waste management and ensure a non-hazardous atmosphere around Pomona and in the City of Harare at large.

KB: There have been concerns on why council is required to pay for dumping waste at Pomona. Can you clarify terms of the contract you entered with the city?

DN: At present and before we took over Pomona dumpsite, the culture has been to dump waste without regard to what happens to it and its impact on the environment. You might recall fire outbreaks at Pomona over the years. In terms of our contract with the city, the obligation is to pay not for dumping waste, but for management of the waste as per agreement with council.

There should be no talk about dumping waste, but waste management. The city council has not been managing waste and the model that we are currently working on in terms of the contract is to completely transform Pomona into a friendly site that fits squarely into the environment. There shall be vegetation at the site and a park. If all goes according to plan, a restaurant will also be within Pomona. This is in line with modern waste management systems across the world.

KB: Are there plans to develop similar projects in more cities that have problems with waste management?

DN: Yes, definitely, the intention is to develop similar projects in other cities in the near future should the opportunity arise and be presented to us. In the next six months, people who have visited Pomona would be pleased to visit it again and see what we would have done.

KB: What is your comment to critics of this project, including those who have said this is a “project made in hell?”

DN: Well, this project has more to offer with regards to transformation of  waste management in the country, as it is a first of its kind and is coming with the ultimate benefit of feeding power into the national grid. The project has already started creating employment and will continue to do so in future.

The site is there and details on  benefits of the project are there for everyone to see and appreciate. People will appreciate the project as time goes by. The misinformation on the project is unfortunate.

People talk and we cannot muzzle them. It is inappropriate, though, to make conclusions based on misinformation dominant on social media. The project is a milestone and, no doubt, future generations will be grateful for this.

KB: Is this project not going to see ratepayers in Harare paying additional charges?

DN: The contract is clear. The city advisedly entered into this contract. I do not see how a clean environment can be a burden to anyone. It ought to be a joy to Harare residents that at last the Sunshine City status is being restored. I am sure it is up to City of Harare on whether or not they would need to make any adjustments to current rates.

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