Reputed citizens and an app: How Karachi’s new garbage fee system works

SSWMB working on mechanism to charge residents
<p>Source: Online</p>

Source: Online

The citizens of Karachi would soon be paying the authorities to lift garbage from their neighborhood.

The development was confirmed by Sindh Solid Waste Management Board (SSWMB) Managing Director Zubair Ahmed Channa, who said the Board is working on establishing a cell to collect “garbage collection charges.”

Channa said they first discussed the possibility with the city’s sole gas utility agency – Sui Sothern Gas Company Limited (SSGCL) - to incorporate these charges in residents’ bills. However, it refused.

The Board has received the assent from the World Bank to develop a mobile application for this purpose, he said, adding that the work on app development has already started.

Channa said a software was also being developed, at an estimated cost of Rs40 million to Rs50 million, to automate the revenue collection system.

How would the system work?

Briefing about the system, Channa said in each neighborhood, the Board would nominate a well-known resident living in the area for at least 10 years. Each representative would get a unique ID and their account would be set up on the app.

As the representatives collect the charges from each house in the vicinity, they would add the amount on the app. “The app would work as a bridge between the SSWMB and the representative,” Channa said.

The representatives would deposit Rs1 million bank guarantee with the Board before they are tasked with revenue collection.

Channa said the Board will help individuals to secure loans from banks, adding that banks have already agreed to finance the guarantees.

The representatives would earn a five percent of the entire collection as commission.

The charges

Channa said there would be varied charges based on the nature of the locality.

The garbage fee would be Rs100 per month for low-income areas, Rs200 per month for middle-income areas and Rs300 per month for high-income areas.

The fee would not be implemented in the city’s six cantonment boards which are out of SSWMB’s jurisdiction.

Industrial units will also pay these charges with small industrial units paying between Rs2000 and Rs4000, medium industrial units between Rs4000 and Rs6000 and large units between Rs6000 and Rs10000.

MUCT challenged in courts

In April 2022, the Karachi Municipal Corporation (KMC) added municipal utility charges and taxes (MUCT) in residents’ electricity bills to be charged every month. The charges were after the Sindh government issued a notification April 12, allowing the power utility, K-Electric to collect MUCT on behalf of KMC.

The civic body expected the new charges would boost its dried-up coffers. However, the move fell face front after a resident named Syed Najeebuddin challenged the charges in the Sindh High Court. He questioned the jurisdiction of the power utility company to collect these charges and pleaded the court strike down the government’s action.

He called the charges “unjustified” and “an additional burden” on citizens already reeling under double-digit inflation and expensive power tariff.

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