New Program Takes Out Trash in Basrah
Saturday, 04 July 2009

BASRAH — U.S. Soldiers and members of the Basrah Provincial Reconstruction Team joined
Governor Sheltag Aboud al-Mayah here as he distributed the first trash can to a city family, July 1.

The 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, coordinated with the local government to provide trash cans to residents here as part of a larger initiative to clean up the city.

"Both the Iraqis and Americans are committed to follow the terms and conditions of the Security Agreement, which we are applying step by step,” Mayah said. “At this time, we are going to start a new era of cooperation. In the past era, the cooperation was based on the military, but was also accompanied by some reconstruction efforts. The new era will witness that Iraqis and Americans will focus on reconstruction."

"The United States combat units have withdrawn from the cities, but American cooperation continues," said John Nalan, Basrah PRT leader. He explained that local citizens may still expect to see U.S. Soldiers within the city operating in support of ongoing reconstruction efforts.

"Our American friends comprehended the important priority of having a clean city and also the priorities of having water and electricity,” the governor said. “They will help us in having these things as essential services.

"Today, we'll deliver to the people as a first step, 12,000 trash cans," he continued. "At the end, the number will reach 350,000, with each house having one trash container. This is the starting point for a lot of other projects to follow."

According to Maj. Stanley Hutchison, civil liaison team leader, 2nd BCT, in addition to the trash containers, the city plans to provide regular trash collection services for the citizens.

"This project is part of an ongoing campaign to clean up the city of Basrah and change the way the city does trash collection," Said Hutchison.

Some of the other projects within the campaign include street cleaning services, incentives for citizens delivering trash directly to dump sites, repairing the trash collection fleet and constructing solid waste transfer stations within the city, explained Hutchison.

"For the long term, we're also working with the Provincial Reconstruction Team to get an incinerator to dispose of their trash," said Hutchison. Additional projects include continuing to clean the canals and picking up the masses of scrap metal within the city.

The U.S. has funded approximately $8 million for local trash collection and clean up initiatives, said Hutchison.

"Presently the city generates approximately 2,200 tons of trash daily," Hutchison continued. “With the crippled trash collection fleet and other deficiencies, the city has only been able to collect and dispose of approximately 40 percent of the daily trash volume.

“With insufficient waste management services, many residents simply dumped their trash outside their homes and along the roads. Children can often be seen playing around or in such areas. The local citizens have been used to such conditions for years.

"These conditions are causing problems with the health of the residents. Such conditions can also lead citizens to be discontent with their government and the lack of essential services.”

"I would like it if Basrah was cleaner," said 9-year-old Noordein, through an interpreter. "It would be better. There will be more places to play safely."

As a member of the first family to receive a trash can, he also said that the trash can and trash services will help keep their own home and neighborhood cleaner.

"This is a good thing for the people of the city," said city employee Abasi, through an interpreter. Abasi drove one of the trucks loaded with trash cans and watched in satisfaction as Noordein and his family received their container.

"This will help make the city beautiful and we can have a healthier and cleaner city," said Abasi, who has worked for the city for three years. He said that recently things have really seemed to improve and he feels hopeful for the initiatives driven by the current government and the future of Basrah.

"We are thankful to the Americans for helping us in our efforts to clean our city,” said Abasi. “A cleaner city will benefit all in Basrah, but I want this mainly for my children and for all the children of Basrah."