Garbage Collection in Dubai 1972

Port Rashid's opening in 1971 brought an increasing number of ships and cargoes to Dubai. But Port Rashid also had to cope with increasing volumes of garbage and waste generated by these ships and cargoes. Dubai Municipality were still using old 45 gallon oil drums for garbage collection. These were placed outside each Residence on the roadside to collect domestic waste. Things had to change....

Burning Garbage, Drying Fish and Flies

Grabage Drum Jumeirah Beach Road

Dubai Municipality's Labourers emptied these roadside 45 gallon drums on a daily basis by manually lifting them and dumping their contents into an open truck. What happened then is not clear! Sand areas alongside the upper reaches of Dubai Creek were frequently used as rubbish dumps. Piles of accumulated garbage, old tyres, waste oil pools littered these areas. Who dumped the rubbish was never clear but this garbage was routinely set on fire as a means of disposal. Driving in this area resembled driving through a war zone, avoiding fires and the black smoke clouds they generated. Adding to this discomfort was the pungent odour of drying fish! In the early 1970s, Deiraside upper reaches of Dubai Creek was home to a small village. Villagers specialised in drying fish for export. The pungent odour from the fish laid out on the sand to dry and the hordes of flies that attracted meant no one lingered longer than they needed. But why go there anyway? Dubai did not have many roads then so often driving around the head of Dubai Creek was an accepted way of getting to where you wanted to go.

Solving a Garbage Problem in Port Rashid

Garbage Station Port Rashid 1973

Pre Container era Ships generated piles of timber dunnage during discharge operations. Ships also disposed of waste accumulated on board during the outward voyage such as food waste, cleaning waste etc. Ships hired waste skips from Port Rashid in which to dump their waste but then Port Rashid had to dispose of this waste. Initially Port Rashid only operated four berths but as more berths were completed the number of berths grew to 15 with around 200 ships passing through Port Rashid each month. A more sophisticated way of garbage handling had to be found. A specialist garbage compactor truck was imported and a garbage handling station constructed. Skip trucks carried the full waste skips from the ships to the station where they were emptied into the compactor. The compactor crushed the waste into a manageable size. When the compactor was full, it was taken away by the specialised truck for the compacted waste for disposal under Dubai Municipality's direction.

Making a Change 1973

Dubai Municipality Garbage Collection

Dubai Municipality sent a Team to see Port Rashid's garbage operation in action. They appreciated the benefits of mechanising garbage collection and decided to do something similar. They ordered equipment from UK but in the early 1970s getting delivery of equipment from UK was a lottery given UK's political problems and their workforce's willingness to strike at the least pretext. Generally it took between one and two years for plant orders to arrive in Dubai. This led to a growing market in imported second hand plant and equipment. Used Bulldozers, Diggers etc would be sold and resold several times at ever increasing prices while the ship was still making its way to Dubai. Construction development demands meant having plant working on site whatever the price.

Eventually Dubai Municipality's plant and equipment arrived and 45 gallon drums began to disappear from Dubai's roadsides. Today Dubai Municipality has fully mechanised garbage collection operation.