LAST_UPDATESat, 23 Jun 2018 4pm

Garbage Crisis Worsens In Colombian Capital

BOGOTA -- The mayor of the Colombian capital, Enrique Peñalosa, vowed on Wednesday to end a strike-related garbage crisis that has led to angry protests.

“It will take three days for the situation to be completely returned to normal,” Peñalosa said on Twitter.

He offered that assurance the day after residents in Engativa, one of the Bogota neighbourhoods most affected by the accumulation of trash, set fire to a bus and to bags of garbage.

The head of the municipal planning and zoning office, Guillermo Herrera Castaño, said Wednesday that more than 25 vehicles had been dispatched to remove the largest garbage piles from Engativa.

Last week, employees of the waste-removal division of municipal water utility Aguas de Bogota went on strike to protest the city’s plan to outsource garbage collection.

Peñalosa declared a health and environmental emergency on Feb. 1 as the trash began to pile up. Even with the strike, 12,500 tons of garbage have been collected, Herrera said, emphasizing that the city government “is focused on picking up 100 percent of the refuse.”

Besides Engativa, the worst-hit neighbourhoods include Chapinero, Teusaquillo, Barrios Unidos, Martires, Fontibon, Santa Fe, Antonio Nariño, San Cristobal, Rafael Uribe Uribe, Usme, Candelaria and Kennedy.

William Arroyo, a resident of Teusaquillo, complained to EFE that authorities prioritize clearing the trash from “public places where many people pass,” while neglecting “less visible neighbourhoods that are also where people with fewer resources live.”