A newly emerged garbage collection business, KIFALME Investment, has begun planting dual purpose trash bins along major streets including Tubman Boulevard in Monrovia.
The bin has two areas, one for recycle plastics and the other for other solid wastes. The upper part is used for electronic advertisement of businesses.
The company is owned and operated by two Liberian women, Laureine Guilao and Danielle Urey.
In a telephone interview with Danielle on March 1, 2016, she said they came with the dream of investing in the Sanitation sector after entering an agreement with the company manufacturing the bins in China.
She said they are doing the same business in Ghana and Nigeria, where the market is huge and see the potential for same in Liberia.
“We discussed with the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC) to help keep Monrovia clean and, with its consent, we established the business to create the condition that people will not drop trash in the street but in the bin,” Daniel said.
According to her, they are working with six men hired from the Peace Island Community who collect the plastics from the bins and take them to Sethi Brothers in Jamaica Road Community, where the recycling process is done.
“For the advertisement aspect, we charge according to duration of the advertisement. A business entity that advertises for a year will be charged lower rate than the person who is advertising for just a month,” she noted.
She, however, said they are not anxious for profit making now but are testing the business environment to see interested customers.
Moreover, Danielle stressed that their main concern is that Monrovia, being the capital, should be clean.
She said views about the installation of the modern bins have given them the impression that the public is interested in such a business, and as time goes by they will extend to other parts of the country according to market demand.
The modern bins can be seen in most parts of the city, especially the busy Broad Street. There are approximately two dozen of them planted along the main thoroughfare and some side streets between central Monrovia and Sinkor, stopping around 21st Street, near John F. Kennedy Medical Centre.
In some locations, advertisements have already been activated on the units, blinking red on the screen above the bin.
So far, the area around the bins appear clean, unlike the past when street sweepers had to be on the standby to pick up dirt dropped by pedestrians.
However, some street sweepers spoken to said despite the modern bins and others being in the streets, there are still many pedestrians and motorists who continue to drop dirt on the street, arguing that sweepers are paid to clean up after them.
According to the sweepers, many people add human waste to ordinary waste to dump into the other bins planted by the Monrovia City Corporation and LIBRA Sanitation.
Garbage collection and control in Monrovia have been challenged over the years, by public stubbornness toward sanitation initiatives. Liberians have lived with the attitude of littering over decades, and a general belief has been developed that it is one’s right to drop trash in the street because government is responsible to keep municipalities clean.
The idea that beautification could inspire cleanliness has been a hard sell in the Liberian public mindset. Though the MCC in collaboration with the erstwhile Presidential Task Force led by Mary Broh carried on some beautification works on Broad Street and posted warnings throughout downtown, littering remains habitual.
However, the hybrid billboard-garbage bin provides some unique opportunities for addressing the litter problem. Because they are put on every street corner, access to at trash can is improved and hopefully people can make use of them. Also, the municipality charges for the erection of billboards, but needs help with waste management. This, among other things, creates opportunities for true partnership using solutions like these bins, where the outcomes would be mutually beneficial, even profitable.