Waste-pickers’ cooperatives unprepared when asked to convert vehicles

Most makeshift cargo tricycles and carts used for waste collection in HCMC are not supervised, which can jeopardize traffic safety. These carts are always overloaded with no proper containers, causing leakage and trash to be scattered on the streets. Although the city plans to remove these types of vehicles from the city’s landscape, waste-pickers’ cooperatives still face financial difficulties among others.

Most waste collection wagons are old makeshift frames on wheels. (Photo: SGGP)

Most waste collection wagons are old makeshift frames on wheels. (Photo: SGGP)

Multiple obstacles for cooperatives

Regarding the city’s demand to replace waste collection vehicles, Ms. Nguyen Kim Hoa, Director of Lien Minh Cooperative, recounted that all budget issues are handled by the cooperative without much support from the city. According to Decision 88 of the HCMC People’s Committee, cooperatives are only allowed to retain 10% of the revenue from waste collection. Of this 10%, 3% - 4% goes to local management agencies, and only 6% is left to cover all undertakings, including salaries and benefits for workers.

Moreover, although 70% of the expenses for vehicle replacement is supported in form of installment loans, the treasury of most cooperatives cannot even cover the remaining 30%, stated Ms. Nguyen Thi Thu Hong, Deputy Director of Nhon Phu Cooperative (District 9).

Lack of parking space for vehicles is another difficulty faced by cooperatives. To combat this, Bao Tin Cooperative (Hoc Mon) only use wagons in small alleys, then work with other units with large vehicles to transport waste to dumping grounds, according to Director Ly Van Hoa. The cooperative was also declined funding meant to replace its 100 makeshift wagons and motor-propelled tricycles from the Environmental Protection Fund.

Aiming towards multi-field cooperatives

Cooperatives requested the city to give them more support in replacing equipment and means of waste collection to be on par with environmental sanitation standards, such as giving deferred payment loans, preferential interest rates and further simplifying loaning procedures.

In the face of these problems, Mr. Le Trung Tuan Anh, Head of Municipal Solid Waste Management HCMC, said that the Environment Protection Fund is working with the Department of Finance to request funding of VND90 billion (about US$3.880 million) for replacing garbage collection vehicles. He also suggested that cooperatives expand towards other fields to ensure living conditions for sanitation workers, and accumulate funds to aid their undertakings.

Regarding this matter, Mr. Bui Tran Huy Vinh, Head of Development Policy Department of Ho Chi Minh City Cooperative Union, announced that there would be mortgage loans of VND60 million (about US$2,585) for individual members, and VND3 billion (about US$129,000) for legal entities. The fund would consider loaning for any party with long-term temporary residence registration and guaranteed repayment capacity.

By Ha Van - Translated by Tan Nghia

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