Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Kampala Capital City Authority-KCCA has started the process of closing Kiteezi Landfill with a study to inform safe closure.
The landfill located in Lusanja village in Wakiso district was operationalized in 1996 and upgraded to an engineered facility in 2001. But Uganda’s largest landfill taking in over 1,300 tonnes of waste daily, has since filled and is due for closure.
Landfill closure involves isolating the waste body from the environment with the aim of preventing or reducing risk to public health and environment.
The KCCA manager for Waste and Sanitation Jude Byansi explains that the process of a landfill closure involves installation of an engineered separation from the waste body, stoping exposure of wastes from wind erosion and burrowing animals, limit ingress of rainfall into the waste body and control landfill gas emissions and control or treat leachate generated from the landfill.
According to the 2020 Guidelines for the Management of Landfill in Uganda, the closure of a landfill must be preceded by the preparation of a plan clearly setting out requirements for closure, decommissioning and site rehabilitation. Such requirements include remedial work on drainage, leachate management and cover integrity.
The guidelines further require the decommissioning plan to form part of the original site selection and design, and that it should be continuously reviewed during the active life of the site to meet environmental and planning needs of the area and the intended after use of the site.
Byansi explains that KCCA is working with Air Water Earth and Queensland and Leeds Consulting Engineers to assess the environmental and social impact of the closure, determine the cover system required to mitigate environmental risks, identify a final cover system to cover the waste and design surface water drainage system to protect erosion.
He further says that the study will inform how to guard against gas emissions escaping from the landfill into the environment and how to manage leachate from the landfill.
Upon closure, the landfill will not cease to exist completely. Byansi says KCCA plans to turn the site into a transfer station where garbage is first taken for sorting, recyclable waste extracted and then the rest compressed and transferred to the proposed new landfill in Ddundu Mukono district.
Byansi also says that they are exploring the option of planting trees at the site or harvest methane gases for energy production.
All this, he says shall be informed by the study which will lead into a design for the final land form and post closure use of the site.
David Kureeba, an environmentalist says that the closure of Kiteezi landfill will save its neighbors from the effects of bad smell and leachate that has been coming from the site.
He emphasized the importance of an environmental and social impact assessment which he says shall inform how KCCA deals with the leachate, smell and gases from the waste.
He also advises KCCA to plan for the hundreds of people who have been deriving their livelihood from there sorting garbage. But most importantly for the expert, Kuleeba wants KCCA to study the impact of establishing a landfill at the proposed site in Dundu, or the challenges that people of Kiteezi have faced will be transferred to Dundu.
He says studies should inform proper designs to set up the landfill. He specifically wants KCCA to make use of the waste to generate income.
However as KCCA plans to close Kiteezi, the City Executive Secretary John Mary Ssebuwufu told the KCCA Council that government has not planned for the activity in the next budget as per the first call secular.
The Directorate of Public Health and Environment has asked for five billion shilling in the coming financial year as phased funding for the closure. He also listed the establishment of the Ddundu Landfill costed at 20 billion shillings as one of the unfunded priorities.
The study is expected to be completed by March 2022 while the actual closure is expected to be in two years’ time.