Inside Geo Pomona's multi- million-dollar waste project...all is well with HCC, says Dilesh Nguwaya

The Zimbabwe Independent (ZI) spoke to Geo Pomona chief executive officer and chairperson Dilesh Nguwaya (DN) about the benefits of the project. Below are excerpts of the interview:

IN 2019, the Harare City Council entered into a US$310 million waste management deal with Geogenix, which will generate 22 megawatts (MW) from the Pomona dumpsite. The power will be added on the national grid. The Zimbabwe Independent (ZI) spoke to Geo Pomona chief executive officer and chairperson Dilesh Nguwaya (DN) about the benefits of the project. Below are excerpts of the interview:

ZI: As spelt out in the agreement, your firm will take over management of the Pomona dumpsite for 30 years. What is the exact value of this agreement because varying figures have been cited?

DN: The exact value of the project is US$310 million.

ZI: As it stands, Harare City Council is opposed to the agreement, which is supported by the government. Has your firm engaged residents to explain the benefits of the deal?

DN: Yes, it has engaged Harare residents through press, radio and social media. We have also had tours with various stakeholders including with the media. We have also attended events such as Zimbabwe Agricultural Society and Zimbabwe International Trade Fair, which have helped with raising awareness.

ZI: What are the advantages of the project?

DN: The benefits of the project are vast. We have transformed the site from a major eyesore and health hazard into a well-managed facility. You can pass through Pomona today and confirm that the site has been transformed. We plan to incinerate 1 000 tonnes of solid municipal waste per day to produce 16MW–22MW of electricity, which will be fed into the national grid for the benefit of the country. This is a sustainable way of managing waste and reducing the waste that goes to landfills. Previously, the site lacked proper access due to overflowing waste. Geo Pomona has addressed this by clearing the land, creating designated waste disposal areas, and constructing access roads. This ensures efficient waste management and minimises the risk of accidents and fires, a common feature of the site in previous years.

Unmanaged waste creates air pollution through strong stenches and fires. Geo Pomona Waste Management’s efforts, including encapsulation of existing waste and construction of a proper landfill for hazardous waste, significantly reduced air and water pollution risks. No unpleasant odours at Pomona anymore.  You can have a meal within the facility and enjoy it.

Unchecked waste attracts flies and pests, spreading diseases. The site's transformation has eliminated these issues, promoting better hygiene and public health in the surrounding areas.

Geo Pomona's investment has created employment opportunities for Zimbabweans. We are also contracting local players — for instance Bitumen World and Brown Engineering. You will be aware of the golf course within the vicinity of the facility, Wingate.

Golfers can testify that they now enjoy playing golf without the unpleasant atmosphere that existed before. Talk of the new Pomona City that is currently under construction and more.

Our commitment to make a difference is evident. We are promoting educational tours for students and companies.

Additionally, the construction of a public recreational facility with amenities like a soccer field, tennis courts, and basketball courts provide valuable space for residents to relax and enjoy outdoor activities.

By addressing the environmental and health hazards, Geo Pomona has demonstrably improved the quality of life for Harare residents.

ZI: What is your vision for the project?

DN: The vision is to be the best and most efficient waste to energy company in Africa and beyond, setting the standard for private/public partnerships in the provision of a better and more sustainable life for all citizens.

We aspire to operate a world-class internationally rated waste management and power generation enterprise.

ZI: What drove your firm to come up with the project?

DN: The site was previously used for waste dumping by various stakeholders. It was a textbook case of a dumpsite. It had recurrent fire outbreaks. It was not a managed waste disposal site. It produced unbearable smells to the surrounding areas like Mount Pleasant.  It was a dangerous site both in respect to the environment and to the people in Harare.

ZI: Are you looking at implementing the project in other towns?

DN: Yes, there are plans to replicate this model in other cities. Stakeholder engagements are underway for this. The long-term vision is to generate electricity from waste for the country. We would want different cities/towns to also be able to generate their own electricity from waste.

ZI: Sources have informed us that you were approached by Victoria Falls residents, can you please elaborate on this. Is that the correct position?

DN: We have been approached by various stakeholders.  We are obviously at a stage where we are unable to divulge more than this. When the time is right, the public will know what other projects we are implementing.

ZI: Over the past two years, Geogenix BV based in the Netherlands, which runs Geo Pomona, has been at loggerheads with Harare City Council over the Pomona waste management project and agreement. Who are the exact parties to this agreement and what really is the source of the dispute?

DN: Harare City Council and Geogenix BV are the parties to this agreement. We are currently working well together and have no dispute with them. We also hold regular meetings with them to appraise them on the update of the scope of works and deliverables.

ZI: The agreement between Geogenix BV, which you represent in Zimbabwe, over management of the Pomona dumpsite was consummated in 2019. How were you awarded the deal? Did your firm participate in the public tender process?

DN: The project is a joint venture.  It is a product of an extant joint venture concession agreement with the City of Harare, which was signed on the 9th of March 2022. Our project was also granted national project status by the Government of Zimbabwe.

All processes and procedures that are set at law were met and the necessary approvals by full council, cabinet of the Government of Zimbabwe and other statutory bodies were granted. The modalities of us moving onto site are set out in the joint venture concession agreement. We confirm having done a handover takeover process with the City of Harare on the 28th of April 2022. Everything was above board.

ZI: Harare City Council  is financially constrained to effectively collect garbage. How much has Geogenix invested? How many trucks have you bought so far?

DN: We submitted a proposal to the City of Harare to assist with the collection of waste. The proposal is under consideration. We are hopeful that we can help the City of Harare to clean the city. We have the capacity and are willing to cooperate with the City of Harare in waste collection for the greater good.

ZI: Please outline how the garbage collection project will work.

DN: We have not reached an agreement with the City of Harare as yet. We are still trying to negotiate with them, hence the details may change.

ZI: Does it cover all suburbs?

DN: These are the things we wish to discuss with the City of Harare and reach an agreement on. The details of the discussion may not be ready for public consumption yet.

ZI: The project in essence is meant to generate renewable energy from garbage stockpiled at Pomona. What is the amount of electricity that is going to be generated from the plant?

DN: Our primary objective is to construct a cutting-edge waste-to-energy plant within the next three years.

This plant will be a game-changer, incinerating a staggering 1 000 tonnes of waste daily. The plant will not just eliminate waste. It will create clean energy.

The incineration process will generate a significant 16 to 22MW of electricity, feeding directly into the national grid and contributing to a more sustainable energy mix for Harare.

ZI: A lot of major Cities in Africa struggle to effectively come up with a holistic and environmentally friendly waste management solution. Do you think your firm can help solve this challenge? What would you say to them?

DN: We are ready to partner with players across the border in modern waste management.

We have the knowledge and capacity to manage municipal solid waste in line with modern trends, technologies and practices.

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