Solution to waste crisis
in hands of municipalities
Short term plan to resolve rising trash mountains
The Council of Ministers has received the plan of the ministerial committee tasked with handling the trash crisis.
The plan’s main component is to ask unions of municipalities and municipalities to handle the responsibility of sweeping, collecting, and treating solid waste, according to Anwar Daou, advisor to the ministry of agriculture.
The committee is formed of the ministries of administrative development, interior and municipalities, environment, and agriculture. Representatives of the civil society, environmentalists, and social activists met at the ministry of agriculture, which is heading the committee after the ministry of environment withdrew.
The plan calls for abolishing the municipalities’ debts, worth $1.3 billion and sending them their dues, also amounting to $1.3 billion from the Municipal Fund. The ministry of telecommunications wired $100 million to the Municipal Fund as revenues from mobile telephony a few days ago. It has done its fair share of the transfers, which reached $492 million as revenues from mobile telephony in addition to fixed line revenues, which are distributed every three months.
This will help municipalities to upgrade infrastructure and hire and train the required personnel to process the trash.
Municipalities will then hold tenders to choose private companies to operate these services.
The plan also involves a short term action in which accumulated garbage from random dumpsters and overflowing containers are moved to the Srar Municipality in the Akkar caza, and Saida, which has a solid waste sorting facility with a 300 ton per day capacity. The Council of Ministers approved late last month a grant of $100 million for the Akkar caza for the next three years. A landfill in Bekaa might also be created to receive the accumulated wastes.
The plan also states that municipalities that host landfills would receive financial incentives. The municipality of Beirut produces 2,000 tons of garbage per day. It constitutes one of the biggest producers of garbage in the country. The municipality did not come forth with any suggestions to resolve the crisis, according to Mayor Bilal Hamad.
Some municipal unions have begun receiving offers from private companies to sweep, collect, and treat waste, such as the Higher Jurd Union of Municipalities and the union of Jezzine municipalities.
The Higher Jurd Union of Municipalities produces 100 tons of waste every day. “We are receiving offers from companies for the three services ranging between $70 and $80 per ton,” said Youssef Chaya, head of the union. “We are starting to receive offers to sort 20 tons of waste per day from private companies,” said George Maalouf, General Director of the union.
Fadi Martinos, Head of the Jbeil union of municipalities said: “We have been sweeping, collecting, and treating waste for the past ten years and it has proven to be a very successful experiment.”
The union of Shkif municipalities is also starting to work on the solution. It has just completed the construction of a $3 million sorting plant in Nabatieh that will be operational within a month. “We asked the ministry to help facilitate an EU grant to prepare a landfill near the plant,” said Abdul Reda Cheaib, member of the municipal union. South Services and Contracting has been collecting and transporting garbage in 29 villages within the union’s parameters for 12 years.
The ministerial committee has formed the plan after the Council of Ministers rejected the results of a tender conducted by the Council for Development and Reconstruction, claiming the prices were too high. The tender results sparked country-wide protests and sit-ins by civil society campaigns in Riad El Solh square.
Reported by Yassmine Alieh
Date Posted: Sep 04, 2015