BEIRUT: Garbage piled up on the streets of the capital and other parts of the country over the weekend, with waste collectors still unable to address the problem due to an ongoing sit-in by activists at the landfill serving Beirut and Mount Lebanon.
Places such as Hamra and Hay al-Sellom were among the many Beirut areas to be affected by the pile up of garbage on streets. Some roads were inaccessible and a number of residents woke up to find their vehicles trapped in heaps of rubbish.
The Mount Lebanon area was also affected.
Sukleen, the private firm responsible for sweeping and cleaning the streets of Beirut and Mount Lebanon, said Saturday its work has been hampered since Friday by the sit-in at the Naameh landfill, some 15 kilometers south of the capital.
In a statement, the company apologized to citizens, saying the blocking of roads leading to the landfill was preventing the collection of garbage.
“The sit-in outside the Naameh landfill and the preventing of trucks from emptying garbage ... led to the piling up of waste,” Sukleen said in the statement.
“Closing roads leading to the Naameh landfill prevented workers from collecting garbage from Beirut and Mount Lebanon,” it added.
Meanwhile, residents of Naameh and surrounding villages, joined by environmental activists from dozens of non-governmental organizations, continued for a third day their open sit-in in protest of the overfilled dump.
Mark Daw, an environmental activist taking part in the protest, told The Daily Star Sunday that the problem at the Naameh landfill was worsening.
“The landfill expanded to an area of 300,000 square meters and is now over loaded with 10 million tons of waste,” he said, noting that the site was designed only to support 2 million tons of waste.
“This is negatively affecting residents in the area and things cannot go on this way,” he added.
The Naameh landfill was created in 1997 following the closure of the Normandy seafront dump in the Lebanese capital.
Naameh was initially supposed to operate for six years, but it continues to receive garbage from the Metro Beirut area and the local community has been complaining for years that it is filled far beyond capacity and poses a health and environmental risk.
Daw said the sit-in would remain open ended until Lebanese officials vowed to find solutions.
“We are waiting for politicians and officials to take action and make vows and present assurances that they will soon address the Naameh landfill problem,” Daw said. “Until now, no official has said a word.”
In its statement Saturday, Sukleen said the securing of an alternative landfill was the responsibility of the Lebanese state and that the Council for Development and Reconstruction as well as relevant authorities were looking for solutions to the problem.
Sukleen added that workers would in the meantime spray disinfectants around waste bins to prevent the spread of germs.