Bin-picking an intrusion

Ursula Schenker, chairperson, Associated Seniors’ Club

Once again elderly residents, including myself, take issue with the bin pickers in our and surrounding areas, who on garbage collection days come to plunder while looking for “valuable” items.

It starts from very early on garbage collection day until the garbage has been fetched by the disposal truck.

Many find it an intrusion and security risk as those who have to leave home for their workplace in the early hours fear that their properties could be targeted for break-ins causing undue trauma.

From the Plumstead area for example the pickers can be found under the M5 Ottery Road bridge where they appear to “sift and sort”, leaving even more destruction in their wake.

The community police forum (CPF) tells residents to log a complaint with the municipality but in order to comply residents need data as SMSes attract a R1.50 cost.

It is alleged that the bin pickers use supermarket trolleys to transport their “cargo”. The costs of which are alleged to be included in the cost of the items bought which adds insult to injury.

How can residents combat this scourge to give them this much-needed peace of mind?

• Xanthea Limberg, mayoral committee member for waste and water, responds: The country has a high level of unemployment which has been exacerbated by the current Covid-19 lockdown.

Within this context, the recycling industry (formal or informal) does create a source of income for many who might otherwise be in need. The City has constituted a multi-disciplinary forum, which is focused on integrating the waste pickers into a formal waste economy. However, this is a longer-term process.

Furthermore, locks are only fitted on bins in areas where there are baboons.

This is a complex environment where there are no easy solutions which work for both the waste pickers and the communities they operate in. In terms of fears of crime, incidents should please be reported to the relevant law enforcement agency for action and investigation.

Residents are also encouraged to take their recyclable waste materials to their nearest drop-off facility as opposed to placing them in the bin. For Plumstead residents, this could be the Wynberg facility on Rosmead Avenue, or the recently upgraded Retreat drop-off facility, whose new design allows for a much smoother off-loading experience.