Hundreds of Shan State residents took to the streets on August 20 to protest a private garbage collection company which they claim has been erratically collecting waste, and also depositing the rubbish in a local village.
Over 600 people turned out for the protest, marching a mile from Kaung Muu Kham in downtown Muse to Mann Wein Village, where they say the waste is being dumped.
“Aung Gayunar Company, which holds a contract to collect garbage for Muse, is dumping the garbage at the football ground in Mann Wein Village. The stench is horrible when it rains. We can’t even eat our meals. It’s also very smelly when they burn the garbage in the dry season,” said Sai Kam, a local resident.
The protesters held up vinyl signs demanding the government take care of public health by removing the dumping grounds to a location farther away from residents’ homes.
Others said the company was not even regularly collecting the trash, creating a buildup of refuse in public areas.
“Muse was once a very beautiful border town. Now, the town has turned ugly because [the company] has not collected the garbage properly. We have to pay monthly fees but [the company] doesn’t pick up the garbage. They only come once in a while so we had to dump the garbage in front of the big hotel, market, or clock tower,” said Nan A One from Muse.
According to local residents, the company charges small households K1,500, larger households K2,000, stores K3,500 and teashops and restaurants between K5-6000. The company has allegedly failed to pick up the trash so far this month.
Aung Gayunar Company holds a 30-year contract to collect garbage in Muse. Three years ago, local residents held a similar protest against the company’s allegedly improper collection and dumping of waste.