Residents of the City of Gbarnga have complained of an imminent health hazard that may result from the accumulation of heaps of garbage throughout the city.
The residents, speaking with the Daily Observer last Wednesday, said their homes are invaded by swarms of mosquitoes from the huge piles of garbage in some parts of the city exposing them to all kinds of diseases. They complain that many residents have fallen ill with malaria resulting from mosquito bites.
It was established by this reporter that several parts of the city, including People Street, Kokoyah Road, Lofa Road, the Iron Gate and Lelekpayea communities were engulfed by huge piles of garbage.
The residents also complain that the Gbarnga City Corporation (GCC) is not doing much to rid the city of garbage in order to give Gbarnga a decent image.
“The GCC should be doing everything in its power to give a facelift to Gbarnga, which is the centrally located city in the country,” the residents declared.
They said the city was over grown with grass and bushes, providing hideouts for hardened criminals who terrorize and rob peaceful citizens of their belongings, most especially at night.
The citizens also accused the GCC of collecting city fees from businesses and garage owners while the city authority does nothing to keep the city clean and tidy.
When contacted by mobile phone on Wednesday, Gbarnga City Mayor Madam Esther Coaline Warbey acknowledged the heaps of garbage in the city but attributed the problem to the lack of funding and logistics.
Madam Warbey informed this newspaper that in 2007, the Development Education Network-Liberia (DEN-L) a local not-for-profit organization based in Gbarnga, supplied the City Corporation with one hundred trash drums to contain the garbage. But she alleged that all the drums were stolen by criminal minded individuals.
In the past, she said, the management of cities around the country was included in the national budget but at present the Gbarnga City Corporation is not receiving any funding from central administration for the maintenance of the city and salaries for its employees.
In 2013, the leadership of Bong County procured a dump truck valued at US$ 25,000.00 for the GCC to augment the corporation’s efforts to keep up with the disposal of garbage in the city.
“Long ago the Gbarnga City Corporation had its own dump trucks to collect garbage from the city. But right now, the corporation is operating with one small dump truck that was procured by the county leadership to help collect and dispose of garbage in the city. But this one truck can’t keep a big city like Gbarnga sanitized” the Lord Mayor lamented.
The unsanitary state of Gbarnga City is chiefly due to the refusal of people who own large properties, including abandoned lands and buildings, to keep their properties clean and tidy.
Madam Warbey indicated that because of the unwillingness of people to clean their deeded properties, the GCC is finding it extremely difficult to keep the city disinfected.
Madam Warbey used the occasion to appeal to the Government of Liberia and the National Legislature to place the leeward city corporations in the national budget for the up keep of interior cities.
On the question of amassing city fees from businesses and garages, Madam Warbey said the funds collected are for the up keep of the city and some volunteers who are helping to dispose of the garbage in wheelbarrows to the designated dump sites.
“How much are these people paying as they make all these comments on the situation? Some are paying as low as L$ 50.00 per month. How much is that money?” Mrs. Warbey asked.
With the huge acreage of abandoned property in the city, “EcoBank” the major commercial bank and other entities are looking for areas in Gbarnga to establish their facilities. Echobank is said to be seeking property in the city in order to alleviate the difficulties customers are facing at the bank’s branch at Cuttington University, which was established primarily to help the students deposit their school fees and for faculty to withdraw their salaries.
Other commercial banking institutions in Liberia are also in search of parcels of land for their own establishments in the county seat, but to no avail because people in the county are not willing to offer their land for development purposes.