Teenagers cleaning an area around Union Square Metro Station in Deira. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: If people don’t mind walking to work, to the mall, or to the Metro, why would they choose to litter when a trash bin is within easy range? This question perplexed many students and Dubai Municipality officials on Saturday morning when they gathered for this year’s last instalment of the 19th Clean UP the World campaign.

Around 25 Dubai students aged between 10 to 12 gathered at the Union Square outside the Dubai Metro Station on Saturday to do their bit for the environment by helping clear trash. The students were representing Green Hope UAE, a new children and youth’s organisation that aims to save the environment and contribute to a sustainable world.

“The entire place is littered with cigarette butts, plastic wrappers, bottle caps, tissue and others. There are trash bins in every corner but I don’t know why people don’t throw them there. Maybe they’re too lazy to walk to the bins,” Kehkashan Basu, 12, founder of Green Hope UAE, told Gulf News. Basu has represented the UAE youth at many international environment conferences including the Rio + 20 Earth Summit in Brazil.

For about an hour, the students scoured the Union Square garden collecting mostly non-biodegradable trash. This was just a few hours after Dubai Municipality street sweepers had finished the day’s first shift. The municipality said they have sweepers doing three eight-hour shifts daily to maintain the cleanliness and beauty of public areas, particularly roads and parks.

“Morning around 5am for the first shift, they [sweepers] will come and clean the area. After that they’ll go. Again, the public will use the place and again there will be waste. The second shift will go and clean. In between again there will be waste. We cannot put one, two people only for the Metro Station,” Mukesh Sajwan, Clean Up the World coordinator from Dubai Municipality, said.

The indifference towards the problem of littering reflects a lack of discipline and the city’s floating population, Sajwan said. “There are a number of dust bins here but even then people are not disciplined. One reason could be Dubai is a cosmopolitan city and there are about 200 nationalities. So this is difficult, we cannot expect discipline from everybody,” he said.

Those who are caught littering risk fines of Dh500-1,000. This year alone, around 3,600 people have been fined for littering from their cars and spitting in public areas.