Refuse collectors begin to clear up Lebanon's political mess

Refuse collectors begin to clear up Lebanon's political mess
Workers have started to remove huge piles of rubbish in northern Beirut as part of a plan to end Lebanon's eight month garbage crisis.
2 min read
20 March, 2016
Trucks worked Sunday to remove piles of rubbish stacked in Jdeideh, a Beirut suburb [Getty]
Sanitation workers started to remove mountains of waste from the suburbs of Lebanon's capital Beirut on Saturday.

Piles of refuse build-up on the streets of the capital during Lebanon's eight-month garbage crisis.

Things appeared better on Saturday when dozens of trucks started carrying trash to the Naameh landfill just south of the capital. It is one of three landfills opened as part of a temporary solution announced by the government a week ago.

As garbage began piling up in Beirut last year, protesters formed the "You Stink" movement, demanding sweeping reforms to Lebanon's government.

Since the peaks of the protest in the summer, authorities managed to blunt the public anger by ensuring that the streets of Beirut were kept relatively garbage-free.

However, the trash was instead pushed to the city's periphery, where it piled up along roadsides and the banks of the Beirut River.

The government said last week that Naameh, the country's main landfill, will open again for just two months.

In the north Beirut suburb of Jdaideh, home to one of the largest trash piles, a bulldozer loaded thousands of trash bags into trucks.

Fadwa Saad had to put a mask to avoid the smell of the trash that could be seen from her balcony.

"We are coughing, we have allergies and there are mosquitoes and flies in our homes," she said.

"They say they are removing trash. We hope that they really remove it, not only do it for one day and leave the rest."

The crisis began in July, when the Naameh landfill was scheduled to close with no realistic alternatives.

Naameh area residents said the dump was over capacity and began blocking the roads to prevent garbage trucks from reaching it.

Despite anger from residents, there were no protests against the reopening of the landfill on Saturday.