Are we a nation averse to tidiness?

BY DOREEN KAJERU

“An airtime voucher is so light and small to worry about. If I drop it anywhere, it will get eroded or blown away,” many of us think as we discard the used vouchers carelessly.

Littering can be defined as dropping rubbish and disposable material on the ground, grass or any place that is not designated as a rubbish disposal area or bin.

All over Uganda, one cannot help but notice rubbish dropped at people’s gates, beside the road and in the trenches. Beautiful gardens, sports fields, classrooms, and living places are not spared from littering. Most of it is rotten food, plastics, papers, synthetics and polythene bags. Therefore, posts of “Do not throw rubbish here. Fine Shs50,000” are seen stationed at houses, schools and public places.

This serves as a polite request, often unheeded by those whose hands are itching to drop their refuse anywhere they see fit.

Do we ever think of littering as wrong for starters, and disobedience at another level?

In countries like Rwanda, said to have some of the cleanest streets and towns in the region, the penalty for littering is prison! We need such a law and the attendant enforcement in Uganda.

Along the streets of Kampala, the authorities have laboured to station rubbish bins at convenient intervals but to their dismay, the rubbish is still found dropped a few metres away from the bin! Are we a nation allergic to order and tidiness?

Uganda Christian University is unfortunately not immune to this predicament despite the fact that it has been ranked as one of the most beautiful and green Christian university campuses in the world.

Mr Joram Mwesigwa, an estates worker, says that it is such an inconvenience to always tell the students not to litter. However, he advises that community meetings like induction and community worship should be platforms through which the administration should rebuke perpetrators of the practice.

Mr Enos Fred Kato, the estates supervisor, said that it takes great effort to keep UCU green and clean.

“Despite the fact that there are bins planted in all corners, we have had to employ someone to pick litter along the pathways because students litter anywhere,” he said.

Kato says that students are very stubborn and have got the wrong mindset that the estate workers will do the cleaning for them. He adds that juice cans and water bottles are the most littered items around campus, and yet the selling of refreshments cannot be stopped.

“We cannot place litter boxes or bins. When told to stop, students boast about the high tuition fees they pay and say that it should cover for the cost of someone cleaning and picking up after them.”

He adds that juice cans and water bottles are the most littered items around campus, and yet the selling of refreshments cannot be stopped.

“We cannot place litter boxes or bins everywhere because they will become litter too. So we shall continue with the struggle, hoping that someday the littering will reduce,” he said.

The Vice Chancellor, Dr John Senyonyi, rebukes the act saying that the community ought to own up to the stewardship of the environment.

“We all think that cleaning up is the job of the estates workers, isn’t it? Ironically this shows that we do not see the relationship between our faith and our stewardship of the environment, and hence our campus. Worse still, this is very habit -forming. Our students grow up thinking this way and for their lifetime!” he says

Senyonyi adds that the littering is contradicted by our meticulous attention to cleanliness!

“We want to be and dress clean but then litter wherever we are! We pass by litter everywhere because we are either too clean to pick it up or we are too important to do so.”

 

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