Monday, December 15, 2014

Bogotá - Still Trash City

Garbage - specifically, the stuff dumped in public spaces - has been Mayor Gustavo Petro's nemesis.

Petro's plan for transforming the city's collection system from private to public resulted in mounds of trash on sidewalks all over the city and eventually got Petro temporarily ousted from office. That was followed by the city's Basuro Cero (Zero Garbage) campaign, which only involved ever-increasing production of garbage - and recycling campaigns, which have produced no noticeable changes in trash disposal habits.

A pedestrian passes a trash-strewn sidewalk in La Candelaria.
Finally, the city issued a law, which went into force about ten days ago, which was supposed to finally and absolutely cure the garbage problem by fining people who did not dispose of their trash at the right time, in the right locations and in the correct-colored bags.

Of course, in a city of millions of people accustomed since forever to tossing their trash willy-nilly onto the sidewalks, where dogs and homeless people tear open the bags and paw thru it for anything they can consume or sell, an unenforceable law changed nothing. If Petro had bothered to ask the opinions of any Bogotanos, they could have saved him the trouble of creating a doomed law.

City 'Zero Garbage' workers sweep up a bit
of the city's tons of garbage.
Recently, Petro lamented to El Tiempo that 'We might have created a revolution.' Yes, he might have, if he had only implemented sensible solid waste policies tested and proven by other cities, such as deposit laws, taxes and other charges to shift the cost of trash disposal onto the businesses which produce and sell the products - thus motivating them to reduce, reuse and recycle their trash.

But Petro, despite being an ex-guerrilla, chose conservative policies obviously doomed to failure. That's nobody's fault but his own.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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