Throughout the year 2013, Monrovia was faced with embarrassment and unhygienic exposure to many different forms of pollution due to its continued public sanitation crisis. Residents, traders and visitors to Liberia are all victims of these unacceptable health hazards.
Environmental and health commentators have attributed the city’s perennial sanitation challenges to poor planning strategies. Monrovia’s citizens are faced with uncollected piles of garbage daily; in spite of the fact many sanitation companies continue to receive substantial funding from the World Bank to maintain the capital’s tidiness.
Over the years, the Urban Waste Management Program (UWMP) under the sanitation companies, has performed very poorly and the piles of garbage continue to spread in strategic parts of Monrovia.
The public commentators were quick to point out that the conspicuous absence of former Monrovia acting City Mayor, Mary T. Broh, from the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC) has had obvious negative effects on the general cleanliness of Monrovia’s strategic streets and its immediate environs.
During 2013, it was observed that some privately owned industrial companies contaminated the air and open water areas in Monrovia, especially the Slaughter House (cow factory) community where the Liberian Cement Corporation (CEMENCO) has its base of operations.
Another polluted community was around the Liberia Coca-Cola Bottling Corporation (LCCBC) in Paynesville, who also suffered air and water contamination.
The commentators said that former mayor Broh was usually seen actively involved in the practical aspect of her work; often ensuring that contracted sanitation companies perform to quality standards of urban waste practices.
In spite of the many recommendations and suggestions by the affected communities in Monrovia, sanitation companies and financial support partners seem very reluctant to initiate radical decisions concerning the dismal performances of the waste companies.
Consistently residents and businesses of the affected communities have complained about the spread of water and air-borne diseases contaminating wells and the air they breathe in their homes, due to the affects of improper refuse collection.
These complaints seem to fall upon the deaf ears of stakeholders in the sanitation sector of the country.
During the holidays, the business district of Red-light in Paynesville and its Christmas shoppers, and traders were forced to celebrate the festive season in the midst of filth; owing to the uncollected garbage dumped at all strategic entry points.
Red-light Market’s traders and residents to matters into their own hands early last week and decided to burn the huge garbage piles that seemed on the verge of cutting off the main road that leads to the city of Kakata in Margibi County.
The Red-light Market is the nation’s largest marketplace, and it serves as host to hundreds of thousands traders, small, medium and large size business entities.
In 2013 the Daily Observers also observed that a majority of the nation’s garages being operated by both Liberians and foreigners were also potential breeding grounds for environmental degradation.
Other environmental hazards included the many floods, resulting from the heavy down pour of rain in Monrovia. Residents of flood plagued communities endured hardship from the combination of flood water and other environmental wastes from various swamps.
In an attempt to provide some analysis of the year in review, our Environment and sanitation reporter conducted interviews with some of Monrovia’s residents.
Youth Activist Joe B. Freeman, 28, of Red-light Market in Paynesville, told the Daily Observer that sanitation companies must redesign their current planning strategies in order to effectively tackle the current realities.
Mamadee B. Konneh, a pharmacy operator of Duala Market, pointed out that pharmacy operators are among the biggest victims of the lack of wastes disposal. He explained that their medical facilities are often directly exposed to the garbage and its unhygienic byproducts.
“Too many precious resources are going into the pockets of some sanitation companies with no tangible results,” Mr. Konneh stated.
Mr. Sayon Kugmeh, a grinding mill operator at Rally Time Market, said that the Urban Wastes Management Program ignored the critical role of having the affected communities involved.
“These sanitation companies must come to the realization that users of the garbage dumpsites must be part and parcel of the entire sanitation initiative; anything to the contrary would be fruitless endeavor,” Mr. Kugmeh asserted.
Major Liberian Government agencies and public corporations were also forced to contend with the capital’s filth, while foreign visitors arriving to see Monrovia after the civil conflict have noticed and documented the glaring filth of some parts of the nation’s capital, much to Liberia’s disgrace.
Indeed, it is the hope of the Daily Observer and major players in the sanitation sector that 2014 would be a better year for our nation’s environment.