Monday, February 5, 2018

Bogotá's Trash Emergency

Trash piled up in the Santa Fe neighborhood.
Bogotá is even trashier than normal these days due to a strike by folks at the Aguas de Bogotá company, which, a bit absurdly, has been in charge of garbage collection for the past years.

Pedestrians walk past piles of trash near the
Museo de Oro TransMilenio station.
Bogotá's besieged Mayor Enrique Peñalosa will likely pay a political price for this situation. But it is his predecessor Gustavo Petro, now a candidate for president, who set the stage for this fiasco.

Near the beginning of his own term as mayor, Petro, an ex-leader of the M-19 guerrilla group, decided to remove capitalists' dirty hands from the city's trash collection service.

So, Petro took the garbage collection contracts away from those evil private companies which had been doing the work competently for years, and gave it to the city's....water company, Aguas de Bogotá.

Aguas de Bogotá workers protest lay-offs recently.
The water company, besides not possessing the ideal expertise for trash pick-up, also lacked the personnel and the equipment. The water company's workforce was suddenly expanded from a few hundred workers to an unmanageable several thousand. And Bogotá did a rush job of importing dozens of used garbage trucks, most of which did not work, and many of which are still parked and rusting away today, while people fight over who's fault they were.

During that transition back in 2012, Bogotá was also inundated with trash. That trash fiasco eventually led to Petro's being removed from City Hall, and his eventual return.

Today, the water company is still responsible for trash pick-up in 52% of Bogotá.
More trash in Santa Fe.

It is the return to a private trash collection scheme, which has Aguas de Bogotá employees fearing for their jobs, that has triggered the strike and inundated Bogotá with garbage. Bogotá declared itself in a 'sanitary emergency.'

Expect the garbage crisis to continue until at least Feb. 16, when a new collection scheme is to start up.

Many water company employees will likely get jobs with the private companies.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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