The Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital Kinshasa has a peculiar eyesore – enormous heaps of bottles, plastic bags and tin cans, as seen in the capital’s Limete neighbourhood.
This plastic waste jams sewers and drainage gutters, further worsening the situation. The city’s residents point an accusing finger to the authorities who are doing nothing about the situation.
“We are really suffering. It smells bad around here. We are appealing to the government to do something, because we are really suffering here,” one resident says.
“I was among the people who approached the city’s governor concerning this issue. He promised us cleanup during the dry season. He said the drainage pipes would be raised to prevent plastics from entering the system. Nothing appears to have been solved. Bottles are still blocking drains and when it rains, our houses are flooded,” another resident says.
Residents of the Kauka neighbourhood around Kalamu River, one of the tributaries of the great Congo River, are faced with the same problem. A blanket of plastic bottles and bags covers the waters, as is the case in several other rivers in the Congolese capital.
A local environmentalist Emmanuel Musuyu is concerned about the long term impacts of this pollution.
“These plastic bottles were made of chemicals that can cause diseases to Congolese people in future. These plastic bottles, whether they are thrown on the ground or in water, degrade in a period of at least 100 to 1’000 years. It is serious pollution. There is need to preserve our rivers, and avoid dumping plastic bottles and solid household waste in them,“he says.
Several consumers however question the plastic waste policies in the DRC, as the problem stems from a common consumer habit: use, throw away and forget.