Friday, June 21, 2024

Health emergency declared as garbage piles up in the streets of Acapulco

It’s not just violence that plagues the streets of Acapulco.

Large quantities of garbage have piled up repeatedly in several parts of the Pacific coast resort city in recent months due to a shortage of garbage trucks, triggering a bitter dispute between the mayor and the governor of Guerrero and the declaration of a health emergency this week.

La Zapata, El Renacimiento, El Coloso, La Venta and La Vacacional are among the affected neighborhoods.

Mayor Evodio Velázquez Aguirre says that the garbage is in the street because the city hasn’t received funding from Governor Héctor Astudillo Flores to pay for its collection.

The governor denies the claim, charging this week that the state government has transferred more than 7 billion pesos (US $365.5 million) to the city.

As the two men engage in an acrimonious blame game, trash continues to accumulate, leading the state’s Secretariat of Health to declare a health emergency Thursday and to start a sanitization and fumigation operation.

“We declared the health emergency due to the inaction [of the municipal government] on all the recommendations that have been made,” Health Secretary Carlos de la Peña Pinto said.

He added that it was determined that the health of 42% of Acapulco’s population is at risk due to the masses of uncovered rubbish that residents are exposed to in the city’s streets.

In addition to declaring an emergency situation, the Health Secretariat also fined the municipal government 322,000 pesos (US $16,815) for failing to provide adequate garbage collection services.

But in a video message posted online Thursday, Velázquez said his government won’t pay the fine and accused the Guerrero governor of conditioning the delivery of a single new garbage truck on its payment. He also accused state authorities of exaggerating the extent of the problem.

Four private companies contracted by the municipal government currently provide waste collection services in Acapulco with 40 trucks.

According to local authorities, between 800 and 1,000 tonnes of rubbish are generated in the city on a daily basis but during vacation periods the figure can spike to as high as 1,300 tonnes.

But even if the city was capable of collecting all the trash it creates, Acapulco’s trash problem wouldn’t be solved.

There is only one dump in the city and its capacity has already been exceeded, and state Environment Secretary Allan Ramírez charges that municipal authorities have made no plans to build a new one or extend the existing one.

In a statement, the state government rejected the claim that it is to blame for the city’s rubbish-clogged streets and pointed out that in addition to failing to deal with the trash problem, the city government is in debt to the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) and municipal employees.

Source: El Universal (sp)

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