WASH Raises Alarm over Massive Garbage Pile

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After several months of protests by residents of Whein Town in Paynesville on the issue of health hazards posed by the country’s biggest garbage dumpsite, the situation in the community is far from over, Water and Sanitation Hygiene (WASH) warned in a release over the weekend.

Whein Town Community, a few miles from the nation’s capital Monrovia, with a population of approximately 16,000, continues to feel the consequences of the presence of the appalling garbage. Residents criticize the government for reneging on promises made to better the
environmental condition of their community.

Since the dumpsite was placed there in the mid 2000 by the GoL through the Monrovia City Corporation, Solid Waste from a World Bank sponsored project, poor sanitation of the community, continues to go from bad to worse, residents say.

Those residents living several yards from the garbage site, are being constantly overwhelmed by the offensive odors, swarms of flies, ants and mosquitoes that make the environment extremely uncomfortable for them.

According to WASH Reporters and Editors Network of Liberia, Whien Town residents complain that government has abandoned them, ignoring its sole responsibility to protect her citizens and make their living environment conducive.

Madam Wade Julius-Morris, Women’s Leader of the Community, told WASH Journalists: “What we as residents of Whein Town are going through is an unbearable condition. As you can see, this garbage site put here by government is gradually killing us as our environment is no long friendly.”

She added, “There is no need for me to narrate the genesis of this garbage site because you journalists know the story more than we do, but what is regrettable and frustrating is that [this] government has reneged on the many promises made to us over the years.

“(Because of) the pollution of our private wells in the community due to the garbage, the government promised to construct safe water facilities in the community for the residents but to our surprise, two reservoirs were erected. How can this little reservoir you see behind me adequately serve and supply water to a community with over sixteen thousand dwellers?”

Mrs. Morris further indicated that in line with the Liberian government’s promises, the health center is yet to be built. Besides: “President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf said that government’s interventions in addressing the residents’ concerns could be done in two phases, short and long terms, but we do not know when it will be done,” the Women’s Leader wondered.

Another female resident of the area, Sano Gaye, who is just a stone’s throw from the garbage site, called on government to relocate the site to a non-residential area.

Mrs. Gaye said the situation of the garbage is worsening every day as there is an increase in the odors from the garbage as well as ants and flies causing them to get sick daily, especially the young children.

“We are treated like foreigners in our own country from our present condition as you journalists can see. When we are eating, we and the flies can be fighting because we don’t want flies sitting on our food…flies are carriers of various diseases and germs,” Madam Gaye stressed.

She added that: “In the day we have the flies and the ants to deal with and at night the mosquitoes can actually give us hell, even when we burn the Chinese mosquito tablets and the coils”.

Mrs. Gaye said for the past four years they have been promised by the Liberian government through the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC) that the community will be sprayed and residents will be provided medical treatment and mosquito nets, but we are yet to receive the items.

She pointed out that a few months back, when the garbage was guttered by fire and the fire was embarrassing them, she had to spend over two hundred United States dollars to treat her children, who got sick from the effects of that fire.

A male resident, Roland Gaye, said: “This garbage site is doing us more harm than good.”

Mr. Gaye told WASH journalists: “Though I am not a water expert, but for us that are closer to this garbage site, there is no good water for drinking because all the wells are yellow and have bad odors.

“For now we are grateful to God because it is the rainy season and we can get rain water to drink, bathe and wash our clothes.”

When contacted, authorities at the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC) said an Inter-Agency Committee was set up by government to review the situation at Whein Town and appropriate actions taken.

The WASH Media Network was informed that the MCC, Ministry of Public Works, Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation, Environmental protection Agency, among others, were assigned specific tasks in helping to assist residents of Whein Town.

Up to the present, from information gathered by the WASH Media Network, no concrete action has been taken to address the situation in Whein Town.

Investigation continues.

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