Liberia struggling with heaps of city waste

Archie Gbezay, a youth leader in Liberia’s massive West Point slum, shook his head as children walked through dense piles of trash, playing catch with jars of old hair product picked from contaminated puddles of water as the sun sank over the ghetto. Gbezay, 34, has witnessed his corrugated iron shack neighbors deal with catastrophic floods, a deteriorating shoreline, and a horrific Ebola epidemic.

But he can’t get over the state of the surrounding beach, where pieces of sand can be seen through the trash.

The rubbish, he claimed, “threatens our existence as a people and constitutes a significant health issue.” “However, as community members, our options are limited.”

Many residents of Liberia’s congested city, Monrovia, claim that a lack of trash management has deteriorated into a full-fledged crisis, with garbage overflowing on streets and lapping at doorsteps.

In the city center, there are just three approved dump sites and few garbage vehicles with sporadic collection periods.

Garbage mounds can reach two metres (6.6 feet) in height and, in the worst-case scenario, stretch a whole block before being removed. Mayor Jefferson Koijee of Monrovia said the truck fleet will be expanded, and that 120 “waste monitors” would be hired for the worst-affected regions.

However, he stated that the problem must be addressed as a whole.

He told media, “I don’t feel satisfaction in presiding over a filthy city (or) delight in being questioned about the city’s disorganization.” “It is the responsibility of every individual to keep this city clean.” Foreign diplomats have chastised Monrovia’s government for half-hearted cleanup efforts, infuriating officials like Koijee, who blamed a lack of donor funding.

However, some disgruntled Monrovians have taken matters into their own hands. Prior to Liberia’s bicentennial kickoff celebrations in February, businesswoman Vivian Bhatti recruited a group of young men to clean rubbish from some of the main areas. “I chose to give this road a makeover to highlight Liberians’ cleanliness and distinctiveness,” she explained. “It is up to us Liberians to take the initiative.”

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