Liberia: Paynesville City Is Filthy

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Paynesville – Several communities in one of Liberia’s largest cities including the country’s main commercial hub are engulfed with mountains of garbage.

Report by Augustine T. Tweh [email protected]

For many Liberians, Red Light Market and waste deposits are now synonymous. And it appears that the Paynesville City Corporation (PCC) is struggling to make intervention.

The mountain of garbage in the market is impeding free movement of pedestrians and marketers. In some communities including Pipeline and Gobachop Market, the stockpile of dirt is now preventing vehicles from plying the road freely.

Over the past few years, PCC received some applause for gaining several international recognitions and forging partnership with several other foreign organizations.

In 2016, Paynesville was officially admitted in a group of hundred resilient cities around the world under the Rockefeller Foundation, which is dedicated to helping cities around the world become more resilient to the physical, social and economic challenges that are growing part of the 21st century.

However, there has been decline in the physical outlook of the city as the challenge of waste management continues to affect the city’s image.

The situation is becoming unbearable for residents and marketers, who are constrained to sell in the midst of stockpile of very offensive garbage.

Ma Korto sells fruits in the market but the stench is making it difficult for her customers to come by. “We are feeling bad about this dirt because it is making us sick. We collect money here and pay it to the market securities but everyday this dirt can’t leave from here,” she said.

James Kpawee, a transport union worker, says liquid waste flowing from the heap of garbage is an eyesore for marketers in the area. He added that the PCC has failed to intervene despite numerous complaints.

“This dirt has made almost three weeks here without the PCC doing anything about it after several appeal to them. We sit here and eat, even our passengers do not feel fine coming here to get on car to go to their various destinations,” Kpawee noted.

Stephen S. Keah, head of shoes retailers in the market, expressed frustration that the government is doing nothing about the situation.

“People from various places are the ones throwing the dirt here, mainly the petty traders. When they go around and collect money from people they will take the dirt and waste it right in the market,” Keah lamented.

Ma Kumba, a mother of three children, who sells few meters away from the garbage site, is worried that her kids often get sick from the pollution.

“This dirt you see here comes with flies, rats, cockroaches and other bad germs that make my children and myself sick almost every day in this market,” she explained.

Several marketers alleged that relevant government institutions like the Environmental Protection Agency, Liberia Marketing Association and the Paynesville City Corporation are paying deaf ears to the situation.

James Barlingar, Secretary General of Gobachop Market, accused communities’ dwellers for being responsible for the stockpile of garbage in the market.

“I think you can look at the entire Montserrado County, residents of communities around Red Light have taken the market to be a garbage site. The PCC is also helping us with the garbage but they said they are not capacitated with machines and trucks, they are struggling,” Barlingar said, adding that the construction of a modern garbage site would ease the problem.

“We are facing hard times with communities’ dwellers coming from all over bringing garbage in the market. In the entire Montserrado, the markets have become garbage site.”

Several designated garbage sites across the city are often abandoned, causing the filth to overflow on the streets. At the ELWA junction market – just couple of meters away from the Liberia Broadcasting System – a mountain of garbage can be seen along the main road.

Some residents of the city have alarmed that the situation may lead to a massive health hazard if relevant authorities do not intervene promptly.

Danise Love Denise, Public Relations officer of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said the responsibility of the EPA is to work along with relevant government institutions responsible to ensure that the environments are clean and safe.

“Our work is to ensure that there are no environmental issues, so when environmental issues are found, the only thing we can do is to work along with relevant institutions to ensure that these things leave the environment. So when it comes to the dirt pollution, it is actually the Paynesville City Corporation that is responsible. It is not the work of the Environmental Protection Agency,” Denise said.

“The PCC has and is always working to ensure that Paynesville remains clean, safe and healthy, but the issue of garbage collection is everyday thing, it’s not a one-day thing,” added Jeremiah Kpadeh Diggen, Public Relations Officer, for PCC.

He said the inadequate equipment is a major challenge for the city government to carry on its function properly.

Diggen claims that the PCC has started engaging residents of the over 55 communities in Paynesville to curtail the random disposing of wastes in the area.

“We have been having series of meeting with residents, community leaders from the over 55 communities in Paynesville that they themselves have to join us in making sure that Paynesville is clean, safe and healthy because if there is a health hazard in Paynesville, it will not only affect the City mayor or the employees of the PCC but all of us will be affected, so they need to help us”.

“We are formulating mechanisms that will be to enforce the city ordinance and to be arresting people who will be dumping anywhere which we will start anytime this week.”

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