Trash to treasure for income seekers

By Ilia L Likou ,

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MISCELLANEOUS RUBBISH: The landfill area at Tafa’igata.

MISCELLANEOUS RUBBISH: The landfill area at Tafa’igata.

A father of three, Tauati Fa’aso’o of Lotopa is one of many citizens of the country who has raised concerns over the increasing number of waste collectors at the Tafa’igata landfill.

The Tafa’igata landfill covers an area of over 30 hectares and has internal access roads, a gatehouse, a recycling materials segregation and storage area, a hazardous waste incinerator, waste water lagoons, and a landfill area.

However reflecting the saying that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, according to Tauati, the area is fast becoming a place for a section of society who see the dump as a source to provide an income.  

“It’s sad to see that many of our people use the dumping site to earn a living...I often go there to dump rubbish and there you see them,” Tauati said.

“To be honest, around 50 people gather there to search for metals and other items that can be sold every day.

“Whenever trucks discharge trash and waste at the site, these people rush to collect plastic, metal and other things that might be useful.

“They should be wearing safety gear but no, nothing at all, they treat the place as their own.

“I also saw a child between the age of 5 to 7 at the site yesterday, he was with his mother collecting rubbish...and it’s really sad.

“The smell is very bad, their health is in danger because of diseases not to mention other dangers from sharp objects, bacteria and germs and toxic fumes.

Tauati said that waste collectors work from the early hours until night in the polluted environment.

“Many of these waste collectors are those who live around the landfill, like Falelauniu, Tafa’igata, Nu’u and other villages around.

“If you go there, many collectors seem unbothered by the giant steel buckets and arms swinging around within a few inches of their heads.

A comment from the Ministry of Natural Resources was unsuccessful.

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