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It has been a messy few weeks for Sri Lanka. The garbage and the dengue epidemic have triggered health issues among the general public.

Thankfully the doctors have postponed their trade union action which had given a bit of a breather to the people.

The government has been receiving heavy criticism for its failure to collect and dispose Colombo’s waste.

This has resulted in an unprecedented amount of waste piled in every nook and corner of the country, and an unprecedented number of deaths due to dengue.

There is no question about the fact that the authorities have failed the people by allowing the garbage to be piled up, making the city a very unhealthy place to live in.

Are the authorities the only ones to be blamed for this chaos?
It is true that the authorities have the duty to ensure people’s welfare. Failing to reach a timely solution is condemnable.

But, what about the duty of the citizen? Didn’t the government request all citizens to segregate their waste so those who collect would not be inconvenienced?

No one likes to accept their faults, and would find some excuse for mistakes. The people point fingers at the authorities, the authorities usually blame it on the officials who were in charge before them, and the cycle continues.

But each individual has the responsibility of keeping the environment clean and to follow instructions of the authorities.

The residents were asked to segregate their waste, but that does not happen in many areas, especially in apartments where there are dozens of families.

Many found it difficult to dump the waste in common areas as not all were following instructions. Some segregated while others dumped them without segregating.
This resulted in the collectors refusing to collect the waste until the residents get their act together.

Over the past few weeks, we have seen many instances where individuals and groups of youngsters who had taken it upon themselves to clean their surroundings.

It is an initiative that is most welcome. But, for how long will they do it?
It is important that the people do not get the wrong message. It does not mean that they will do it. It is just a message for the people that each of us is vested with the responsibility of protecting and preserving our environment.

Do not wait for another person or an organization to do the job.
The first thing is to ensure that we as citizens do what is required of us properly before blaming the officials and the authorities.

We as people have always depended on politicians and officials to get things done. Why not change it?