Even though street sweepers are paid to do their jobs, some of them are complaining that the job is a humiliating and difficult one to do in Liberia.
Some sweepers, who feared reprisals if identified, told reporters that as they sweep up the trash during work hours in Monrovia, more trash is spread behind them as though they had not done any work.
“My brother, the hard time in cleaning Monrovia is not easy. The moment we get through sweeping, people will drink water and drop the plastic in the street. Those selling too, will not want to bring bags to drop the trash in, but will allow it to be spread all over. We have swept all over here, but you see the dirt? This one is for tomorrow morning now,” an exhausted and frustrated sweeper told our reporter.
The sweepers, in separate interviews, noted that in most instances sellers and pedestrians describe them as dirty workers who belong in the garbage.
“Some drivers can even cuss us while sweeping the sidewalks and those walking along the streets shout at us when we tell them to drop their dirt in the dust bins placed along the streets. We’re only doing this to help ourselves reduce the hardship, but the work is very disgraceful and hard to do,” another female sweeper lamented.
Sanitation workers are seen daily in the streets of Monrovia sweeping and emptying garbage cans into wheelbarrows and mini trucks in a mostly losing battle to keep the streets litter free.
The LIBRA Sanitation company that employs some of the street sweepers has placed trash bins in many convenient locations along the streets to prevent littering.
In spite of every effort to prevent littering, pedestrians and street vendors do not care to drop dirt in the bins, but drop their trash of every kind on the ground without regard for how dirty the streets and the city in general appears.
According to the street sweepers, some community dwellers who do not have toilet facilities in their houses defecate in plastic bags and drop them as trash in the dust bins planted along the streets.
On Benson Street an orange seller with whom this reporter chatted said sweeping up the orange peelings was not her obligation because vendors pay taxes and government needs to use it to pay those who sweep the streets.
According to the young woman, if the streets are always clean, the sweepers will have no work to justify the money they earn.
Sadly, even students of the University of Liberia (UL), who should know better, made similar statements while dropping garbage on the campus grounds. The UL students contended that they need not bother to go and drop trash in the dust bins planted on the campuses “because people are there to sweep.” They, like the orange seller, are of the opinion that if janitors did not sweep up the garbage, they would not deserve the money they make.
Monrovia under the administration of former Acting City Mayor Mary Broh, saw major improvements in sanitation due to the mayors persistence, unrelenting enforcement of city ordinances and hands on methods of keeping the city clean. Nevertheless, the habit of uncontrollable littering was a challenge to the former Mayor and her crew, as residents ungratefully ignored the city management’s serious efforts to stop people from littering the streets of Monrovia and thereby give the nation’s capital a degree of decency.