Lebanon Businessnews News

Cities’ municipalities favor
government garbage plan
Naameh authorities in opposition, and call for protest
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Mixed feedback on the government plan to solve the garbage crisis was echoed by municipalities. The Council of Ministers approved the plan proposed by a ministerial committee.

Beirut Mayor Bilal Hamad said: “We are satisfied with the decision. We will meet with a team of experts to put together our main priorities so that after a year and a half we are fully prepared to handle all responsibilities related to the matter.”

“All the garbage that Sukleen was picking up from Beirut and putting in Karantina under our request will be transported to the Naameh landfill,” Hamad said.

Some municipalities say it is not enough to pay municipalities their dues and that more should be done. The mayor of Tripoli Amer el Tayyib Rafei said: “We request the Council of Ministers to forgive our debts to the Municipal Fund.” The municipality of Tripoli borrowed $66 million from the Municipal Fund to to pay for these services. “With such a deb burden, we won’t have the financial capacity to manage,” said Rafei.

The plan, which was rejected by the municipality of Abey-Ain Drafil, which hosts the Naameh landfill, includes an 18-month phase and a longer term 12-year plan. The Council of Ministers approved administrative decentralization whereby municipalities and unions of municipalities handle the long term process of sweeping, collection, and treatment. The municipalities’ work will be supervised by a technical team chaired by the Ministry of Interior and includes the ministries of Environment, Finance, and Administrative Development.

The Abey-Ain Drafil municipality, which hosts the landfill, released a statement saying: “We do not approve of opening the Naameh landfill even for an hour.” Residents of the area called for a peaceful protest at the landfill site.

As part of the plan, Sukleen’s contracts for treatment, landfilling, and supervision for Beirut and Mount Lebanon have been terminated. Its contract for sweeping, collection, and transport will be renewed for 18 months. It will also be paid for landfilling in the Naameh site. The Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR) will be the contractual party.

The Naameh landfill will be reopened for a week to receive accumulated garbage in Beirut and Mount Lebanon. Preparations will be made to increase power production and distribution from waste to Naahmeh’s neighboring villages.

Walid Aridi, Head of the Shahhar Union of Municipalities in Akkar, welcomed the decision to open the landfill. The union, composed of 13 municipalities, produces 40 tons of waste per day. “We are in the tendering phase for a waste sorting plant with a 50-ton capacity per day,” he said.

The mayor of Saida Mohammad Saudi said he accepts the plan to receive waste at the municipality’s sorting facility as long as a new landfill is created. “We have a land for the landfill but we need a permit from the Government to be able to prepare and use it,” he said. For each 100 tons of sorted waste, 15 tons of inert materials are produced. “We don’t have room to landfill more inert materials, if more waste is sorted by the plant,” he said.

The Council of Ministers also tasked the CDR with conducting studies to restore Burj Hammoud and Ras al Ain dumpsters and transform them into landfills.

Two landfills will be established in Srar and Masnaa. The Council of Ministers approved a treasury advance of $100 million for Bekaa, through the Higher Relief Council (HRC). This comes a week after the Council of Ministers gave Akkar a $100 million grant.

The CDR was also tasked with equipping and operating the Akkar and Bekaa sites for treatment and landfilling garbage within one month. Municipalities and their unions will form groups that produce at least 200 tons of garbage per day. This would make it economically feasible to establish a sorting facility for each group. The Akkar and Bekaa sites would then receive solid waste coming from all areas until sorting facilities are established. Saida’s sorting facility will also be used to receive part of the produced quantities. The capacity of Saida’s facility is 500 tons per day and currently operates at near half capacity.

The Council of Ministers approved the decrees suggested by the ministries of Finance and Interior to distribute $2.5 billion as shares of municipalities and their unions from mobile telephony revenues without deduction. A rescheduling of the remaining $550 million amount stretching between 1995 and 2010 will also be made. Paying municipalities and unions their dues will help them prepare to handle their tasks in waste sweeping, collection, and sorting.
Reported by Yassmine Alieh
Date Posted: Sep 10, 2015
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