Are City Authorities Overwhelmed by Chronic Garbage Disposal Problems, or Are They Just Simply Ineffective?

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The Daily Observer, like other local dailies, has emphasized in its editorial many times the need for state authorities to take actions to address the stockpiles of garbage in Monrovia and other cities in Liberia.

Besides the various editorials, our reporters have continuously reported about overwhelming garbage at Red Light and Duala markets, and other parts of Monrovia. There is yet again another report in the July 10, 2018 edition of this newspaper by our Margibi reporter, Patrick C.M. Kollie, about uncollected garbage that residents are demanding the Kakata City Mayor to remove.

From our observation, dumping dirt in the streets in Liberia is done not only because of a lack of disposal sites; it is a habitual attitude of many Liberians who seem to have a strange mindset that others should clean-up after them.

Garbage wantonly disposed in cities has a number of adverse consequences. It hosts rodents, cockroaches, flies, mosquitoes and other creeping parasites that transfer diseases including malaria and typhoid.

At many clinics and hospitals in Liberia nowadays, the most commonly diagnosed diseases are malaria and typhoid, and these preventable diseases are bred in such filth. As the rainy season has come, water flowing from filthy places is polluting shallow ground water wells that are the main sources of water for many homes.

The polluted water sources, according to medical experts can also result in skin diseases, diarrhea, typhoid and cholera. All these diseases are prevalent in Liberia but yet authorities who should help to address the garbage crisis here appear somehow indifferent.

We understand that the Liberia Marketing Association (LMA) with the acquiescence of the Paynesville City Corporation (PCC) collects money from marketers to remove garbage at the Red Light market. We wonder why with such an agreement granting the LMA the authority to collect garbage disposal fees the city authorities appear helpless and unable to enforce compliance.

The Monrovia City Corporation (MCC) and the Paynesville City Corporation have begun a clean-up campaign in preparation of Liberia’s 171st Independence Day celebration. Good! But for how long will the cleaning last after the Independence Day on July 26? As often as the cities are cleaned, people refill it with waste because they have very poor awareness about public health and sanitation and how it affects their health and lives.

Additionally, this situation persists because water and sanitation facilities especially public toilets, public water mains are critically lacking while enforcement of city ordinances generally tends to be weak. Most of all it is because city and LMA authorities are remiss in their duties.

Instead of occasionally cleaning the city on certain national holidays, we recommend that city corporations invest more in water and sanitation facilities. Public spaces such as the Palm Grove Cemetery, for example, should be cleaned all through the year instead of doing so only on Decoration Day; public toilets and garbage disposal sites within that vicinity to serve the needs of thousands who have to use the cemetery as a public toilet.

Finally we recommend that all such measures be complemented by a vigorous public health awareness program to ensure that the message of cleanliness takes root.

Authors

2 COMMENTS

  1. OK , I think I have a solution for our waste problems. Why can’t we convert our waste to energy?

    1) We could make a deal with some European country (mostly private companies actually, but in some cases state run disposal treatment centers) that is buying household waste and incinerating it into energy! Talk to Germany for example (research shows Germany and some other EU countries actually import waste from other European countries to satisfy their energy needs) , ask them to buy our waste! Waste is a commodity, believe it or not. All of the solutions I am going to mention will actually required the cities or GOL (whichever) to have an organized trash seperation and collection system (make sure the people are educated to abide by disposal rules to dispose of waste in appropriate containers ) and a pretreatment and storage facility. The city mayor of Monrovia can visit other “sister” cities around the world and talk to mayors about assistance regarding waste disposal. He’ll be amazed what these guys can do! They’ll could as a company and investors might knock at his doors!

    2) Invest money in a high capacity waste management facility (or ask investors to do so ). Biodegradable household waste could be converted into cooking gas for example. Our neighbors (Ivory Coast for example) use cooking gas, in Liberia, no “fire coal” no cooking. This is not sustainable and in the long run, this will lead to deforestation. No landfill as this is not sustainable (digging hole to cover hole phenomena) for non biodegradable waste!

    3) This is one of the most important and long term solutions. I notice , that our people at large have very little or zero knowledge about the negative environmental impact waste can have on our ecosystem/environment. For example , an average Liberian (no disrespect) will just litter trash in the streets without a second thought. Environmental subjects need to be taught in school for children and adults to learn about trash handling/disposal. Workshops need to be held across the country to educated adults (non school age) how to dispose of trash. Community leaders need to play a key role in this. The keyword here is “education”.

    4) Talk to the FAO (some cash might have to go into this of course), they have a lot of solutions on hand and will advise you how to turn your biodegradable waste into cash/gas both on an individual (household level mostly apply to farmers, but also others groups of interest) and industrial (commercial scale).

    Finally my good market wo/men (I hope you or your kids are reading this ) whom i buy my vegetables , fish, etc. from, by you paying fees doesn’t mean you should throw trash anywhere,anyhow, you are also responsible for the mess around you. You see a huge pile of trash right next to your commodities, yet you keep throwing more and more waste , adding to the pile, this will attract flies and bacteria and make me sick when I buy contaminated food from you and consume it (when bacteria infested flies from the waste sits on the food you sell to me , it will get me and/or you sick). Please dispose of the trash far away from the area you sell ( I know this is a dilemma, whether you dispose of the waste far from the market improperly it will still harm the environment but better then doing so closer to where you sell our food. I understand that the city or government has to find a solution to this problem).

    I hope I have contributed meaningfully! This is just my layman contribution.

    • QUICK CORRECTION

      OK , I think I have a solution for our waste problems. Why can’t we convert our waste to energy?

      1) We could make a deal with some European country (mostly private companies actually, but in some cases state run disposal treatment centers) that is buying household waste and incinerating it into energy! Talk to Germany for example (research shows Germany and some other EU countries actually import waste from other European countries to satisfy their energy needs) , ask them to buy our waste! Waste is a commodity, believe it or not. All of the solutions I am going to mention will actually required the cities or GOL (whichever) to have an organized trash seperation and collection system (make sure the people are educated to abide by disposal rules to dispose of waste in appropriate containers ) and a pretreatment and storage facility. The city mayor of Monrovia can visit other “sister” cities around the world and talk to mayors about assistance regarding waste disposal. He’ll be amazed what these guys can do! They could ask a company and investors might knock at his doors!

      2) Invest money in a high capacity waste management facility (or ask investors to do so ). Biodegradable household waste could be converted into cooking gas for example. Our neighbors (Ivory Coast for example) use cooking gas, in Liberia, no “fire coal” no cooking. This is not sustainable and in the long run, this will lead to deforestation. No landfill as this is not sustainable (diging hole to cover hole phenomena) for non biodegradable waste!

      3) This is one of the most important and long term solutions. I notice , that our people at large have very little or zero knowledge about the negative environmental impact waste can have on our ecosystem/environment. For example , an average Liberian (no disrespect) will just litter trash in the streets without a second thought. Environmental subjects need to be taught in school for children and adults to learn about trash handling/disposal. Workshops need to be held across the country to educate adults (non school age) how to dispose of trash. Community leaders need to play a key role in this. The keyword here is “education”.

      4) Talk to the FAO (some cash might have to go into this of course), they have a lot of solutions on hand and will advise you how to turn your biodegradable waste into cash/gas both on an individual (household level mostly apply to farmers, but also others groups of interest) and industrial (commercial scale).

      Finally my good market wo/men (I hope you or your kids are reading this ) whom i buy my vegetables , fish, etc. from, by you paying fees doesn’t mean you should throw trash anywhere,anyhow, you are also responsible for the mess around you. You see a huge pile of trash right next to your commodities, yet you keep throwing more and more waste , adding to the pile, this will attract flies and bacteria and make me sick when I buy contaminated food from you and consume it (when bacteria infested flies from the waste sits on the food you sell to me , it will get me and/or you sick). Please dispose of the trash far away from the area you sell ( I know this is a dilemma, whether you dispose of the waste far from the market improperly it will still harm the environment but better then doing so closer to where you sell our food. I understand that the city or government has to find a solution to this problem).

      I hope I have contributed meaningfully! This is just my layman contribution.

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