San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Government Responds to Tibás Trash Dilemma

With garbage piling ever higher in Tibás, north of San José, authorities took action this week to find solutions for a trash-collection problem that has plagued the suburb for months.

Public Health Minister María Avila announced Wednesday that the government has asked the National Emergency Commission (CNE) to declare a state of emergency and take over garbage collection in the suburb for six months.

Meanwhile, the Institute for Municipal Development (IFAM) and the Health Ministry will work with the municipality to prepare it to take over the service once the CNE’s time is up.

This plan was created at a Monday-night meeting where Avila, Ombudswoman Lisbeth Quesada, CNE President Daniel Gallardo and representatives from IFAM and the Tibás Municipal Council discussed the issue, according to a statement from the Ombudsman’s Office. Two hours of “arduous deliberations” resulted in the creation of a short, medium and long-term plan of action to improve collection in Tibás, which has been slowed by a lack of funds to repair garbage trucks.

With the May-November rainy season under way, the risk for dengue fever is a concern once more, and the 800 tons of garbage that have piled up throughout Tibás are collecting water that can become breeding pools for infected mosquitoes, Avila said. Rats are also proliferating because of the garbage problem, raising the risk of leptospirosis.

According to the daily La Nación, a response from the CNE is expected early next week. In the meantime, the municipality has asked the Comptroller General’s Office to authorize the hiring of six additional garbage trucks to start picking up the 800 tons of accumulated trash.

Though Tibás’ 72,000 residents generate 75 tons of garbage per day, the municipality has the equipment to collect only 35 tons, according to Avila, who called on residents to help the government keep the area clean.

Of course, every cloud has a silver lining – at least for Juan José Castillo, an unemployed resident of nearby Moravia.

According to the daily La Nación, Castillo is making the most of Tibás’ garbage woes by collecting trash in his truck, charging willing Tibás residents ¢1,000 (approximately $2) for the service.

Castillo, who began collecting garbage Monday, said he picked up eight tons of waste after visiting only two neighborhoods.


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