Uncollected piles of garbage that continue to overwhelm markets across Monrovia City are creating tension between the Paynesville City Corporation (PCC) and the Liberia Marketing Association (LMA) as the latter has reportedly neglected its responsibility to properly manage waste from marketplaces under its control.
It is no secret that the constant delay in disposing of waste in Paynesville City, with basic concentration in the Red Light community, is one of the main factors that caused the uncollected garbage in the city.
The delay, which has become a perennial problem, often results to the over-stay that would cause pollution and lead to several preventable illnesses.
Residents are turning to social media to vent their frustration by posting pictures and video footage of garbage in their various communities. These unfortunate situations create uneasiness within the Paynesville municipal authority, who believe they are ‘wrongfully’ blamed, while the LMA, under whose watch most of the garbage is generated, carry no responsibility.
But at a meeting with the LMA on Wednesday, June 3, 2019, Paynesville City Mayor E. Pam Belcher-Taylor blamed the LMA for the perpetual filth of the major markets in the city, noting that the LMA officials are getting rich at the detriment of poor marketeers whose welfare is being neglected.
In her remarks, she threatened to stop the LMA from collecting fees from marketeers if the association is not willing to play its part in helping to keep the city clean. “We will inform the marketeers not to pay fees to the LMA, but will encourage them to pay the fees to the PCC, who will use the funds to clean the market,” she said.
While many believe that it is the responsibility of PCC to collect garbage from dump-sites within the city limits, which may be the Corporation’s statutory function, Mayor Belcher-Taylor argues that such service is accompanied with fees — which the LMA is currently collecting from marketeers. And the delay to collect the garbage causes it to accumulate every day, turning into a pile of mountain. “It takes the PCC most times, if not all the time, to collect the garbage. This is unfair,” she said.
During the intense meeting with LMA officials at the Paynesville Town Hall, Mayor Belcher-Taylor noted that LMA should be responsible to keep all markets in the city clean because the association does not only collect ground fees from marketeers, but “dirt fees” as well.
The neglect by the LMA of its responsibility is putting pressure on the PCC, she added.
“We have been inviting the LMA for us to sit down and discuss about this garbage issue. The LMA collects fees from the marketeers every day. The people are sitting under the heavy rain with their children among huge pile of garbage. They cannot be paying their money while they are not getting the services they deserve,” the Mayor blasted.
Unfortunately, it is the PCC that is blamed when the dirt overtakes the markets. “People are paying for their dirt to be collected. Why can’t we do the honorable thing by doing what we are being paid for?”
She noted that the LMA has refused to reach an agreement with the PCC to turn over some of the funds collected monthly so that the Corporation expends same to keep the markets clean.
“You people need to bring some of the money you collect to enable the Corporation to be effective in collecting the dirt. We are financially constrained too and you cannot be collecting the money while we are frantically striving to do the dispose the dirt,” the mayor said.
“They don’t want us to sit and structure how we can handle this dirt issue, but they are collecting ground fees from the marketeers and the commercial vehicles,” she said, adding that her patience is now running out.
“This situation is now getting to a point where my cup has run over with them. This is not fair. They are putting pressure on us because everyone is looking at the PCC when the issue of garbage is raised. We are at the center stage when the issue of garbage is raised in Paynesville,” she said.
The Mayor fears the outbreak of disease as a result of the huge piles of uncollected garbage in the market places. “We are in the rainy season and there is a likelihood there can be a disease outbreak. Why are we putting the lives of our people at risk?” she asked rhetorically.
She accused LMA officials of exploiting the poor marketeers whose lives continue to be endangered. “Most of these LMA officials have built compounds on the backs of these poor marketeers. They are using the money to enrich themselves while the marketeers are suffering.”
In response, LMA officials said the disposal of garbage from the commercial district of Red Light is an age old problem that is yet to be solved. The Association said it is doing its best but the proper handling of waste, especially in red-Light, can only be done through a collective effort — The PCC, LMA and residents in the vicinity of the various markets.
A top official of Gobachop Market, James Collins, said the LMA has been making frantic efforts in cleaning the market, but much of the dirt are not from the market but rather from the surrounding communities.
“The huge garbage around the various market places is not produced from the marketeers alone but residents of nearby communities” he said.
The issue of a landfill is another obstacle that hinders the waste management for PCC, since the Waste Dump Site in Whein Town, located in Paynesville, is under the jurisdiction of MCC. This means the PCC uses the landfill base on permission.
“We are considering the issue of a landfill for the Corporation because we have none. This is somehow contributing the problems we are facing,” Chairman of the Paynesville City Council, J. Max Hinneh, said.
“Residents and marketeers have consistently complained of huge stockpiles of garbage in their respective communities, a situation that is detrimental to their health. And this worries some of us a lot. This is why we called the leadership of the marketeers here so we can sit and talk. We need to handle this situation because our people are being affected,” Hinneh said.
A World Bank project that used to help in managing waste in the city ended more than five years ago. A contract to dispose of garbage from the various markets in the municipality was reached between LMA, Monrovia City Corporation (MCC) and the Zoom Lion.
The project, however, ended in 2013, leaving the collection of garbage in Paynesville to the municipal authority, which did not benefit any of the players from the initiative, a burden to bear.