The only man-made lake in Liberia, Lake Tileh, has been turned into a dumpsite for marketeers at the Sanniquellie Central Market and the surrounding neighborhoods.
The Daily Observer recently observed that the lake is gradually disappearing due to the dumping of garbage by residents, as well as by those who pollute the shores of the lake by washing vehicles.
Almost half of the lake has been covered with dirt and grass, which makes it difficult for anyone to notice the beauty of the once famous lake during the 60s.
The portion extending to the Catholic Compound at the northern end of Sanniquellie and the one to the east that is near the former airstrip, has been eroded; while the part surrounding the Sanniquellie Central Market is being covered with refuse.
When contacted, Sanniquellie Marketing Superintendent Beatrice Lah could not deny claims about the disposal of garbage along the lake. She however said the marketeers do not have any other nearby dumpsite that is far away from the market.
Ms Lah also pointed accusing fingers at nearby community dwellers who dump garbage in the lake, something she said was beyond her control.
“We don’t have garage toting van or anything that could enhance the exercise, and there is nowhere around this community to dump garbage; so it is very difficult to contain the dumping of dirt on the shores of the lake, though we recognize the place as historic,” she said.
“If we have a car or truck to take the garbage away, we would have asked city authorities to identify a place around Sanniquellie to dispose of dirt,” Ms Lah maintained.
She also explained that the proximity of the lake to the market poses a threat to the importance of the lake itself; therefore, it would be necessary for the government to relocate the market from the shore of the lake to some other place that would be accessible to marketeers and their customers.
However, some prominent citizens of Sanniquellie have blamed the marketeers for polluting the lake. They therefore urged the government to relocate the market as the only way to protect the lake.
“If this market is relocated, the market building could be transformed to contain something to attract visitors; but if the market continues in this location, the lake will not be protected,” said one Gono, a permanent resident.
“The only way to do this is to relocate the market, dredge the lake, then of course, it will regain the posture it deserves,” said Mr. P. Luogon Lah, one of the well established residents.
Sanniquellie Central Market was built in the late ’50s at the bank of Lake Tileh. But with a growing population as compared to when the market was built, the site can no longer host its current residents.
The market building overlooks the shore of the lake, which many believe led to the disposal of garbage into Lake Tileh. However, it has been suggested that the market should be turned into a hotel that would attract tourists.