Health ministry shuns new incinerator

04 September 2019 | Health

Windhoek • Claudia Reiter

Almost daily, dark plumes of smoke rise from the old incinerator located next to the Katutura State Hospital, in spite of the fact that in November last year “the most modern incinerator in southern Africa” became operational.
Although the new state of the art incinerator is located close by, at the moment only private hospitals, law enforcement agencies and some businesses are using the incinerator – all except the Ministry of Health.
“At the moment we are still waiting on the state hospitals to make use of this incinerator,” said the municipal director of the new plant, Eliphas Kahorere. “Right now only the police and the private sector, like private hospitals and clinics, and Meatco are using it.”
While there is no official reason for this, all questions directed to the Ministry of Health have so far remained unanswered. However, according to informed sources, this newspaper could establish that the old incinerator was a source of income for the state; an income that is no longer available since the commissioning of the new incinerator, which also explains statements that the service provided by the new municipal incinerator are “too high”.
In December 2017, the Windhoek City Council was confident that it would soon be able to dispose of state hospital’s medical waste. At that time the engineer in charge, Stellio Tsauseb, said that the new plant was “cheaper” and that the city wanted to “relieve” the Ministry of Health of their waste incineration burden.
Based on this premise, the budgetary planning for the new incinerator was carried out, which included that the new incinerator would also dispose of waste from the state clinics of Gobabis, Okahandja and Rehoboth.
While the City’s original income calculation was based on handling waste from state hospitals, the municipality didn’t react to questions posed about how much waste is currently being processed at the new incinerator, how much waste the new ovens can handle and what masses are needed to cover costs. Questions regarding whether the old incinerator releases toxic gases into the atmosphere also remained unanswered.

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