The Mozambican Minister of Land, Environment and Rural Development, Celso Correia, on Wednesday signed a consultancy contract with the Maputo and Matola municipal councils, and with the Korea Engineering Consultants Corporation, on the design of a landfill which will be used by the two cities, and will replace the current sprawling rubbish dump in the Maputo neighbourhood of Hulene.

Under the terms of the contract, the Korean company has a year to design the landfill, and will then monitor its construction, which should end in late 2017.

The landfill will be built in the Matola neighbourhood of Matlemele, on an area of 100 hectares and will have the capacity to receive 1,400 tonnes of garbage a day. At the landfill, the rubbish will be separated into paper, plastic, glass bottles and organic waste. It is hoped that 200 tonnes of waste a day can be recycled.

At a later stage, Korean technology will be used to produce four megawatts of electricity from the organic waste deposited at the landfill.

The landfill will cost 60 million US dollars, and 80 per cent of this will be financed by the South Korean government through its Exim Bank. This is a soft loan to be repaid over 40 years, at an interest rate of 0.1 per cent.

The contract fulfills a pledge made by Maputo Mayor David Simango during his campaign for re-election in 2013, when he promised to close the Hulene rubbish dump, where the city’s waste has been deposited, in the open air, for the past 30 years. The Hulene dump began as a large hole in the ground, but is now a nightmarish mountain of garbage, posing enormous health risks for anyone living in the vicinity.

The City Council will not only close Hulene down, but will use the decades of waste deposited there to produce methane, which will then be converted into electricity.

Cited by the independent television station STV, Simango said a tender was launched last year “and the winning company now has to study how to close down the garbage dump including the use of the waste to generate energy”.

Correia said that one of the important components of the landfill project would be to protect the water table. It would also “contribute to improving public health by eliminating foci of diseases such as cholera, reduce air and visual pollution from the burning of rubbish, and soil contamination, with are common problems in open rubbish dumps”.