By: Gus Myers
After several months of protest by residents of Whein Town Community in Paynesville, Montserrado County on the issue of health hazard posed by Liberia’s biggest garbage site, it seems that the garbage nightmare for dwellers of that area is far from over.
The Whein Town Community, just several miles from the nation’s capital Monrovia with the population approximately over sixteen thousand continues to get the pinch from the consequences of garbage as they have revealed that the Liberian Government has reneged on promises made to better the environmental condition of the place.
Since the site was placed there in the mid part of the year 2000 by the Government of Liberia through the Monrovia City Corporation Solid Waste from a World Bank sponsored Project, poor sanitation of the community continues to go from bad to worst.
In the community especially for those living closer and several yards from the garbage site are being engulfed constantly by the offensive odors, swam of flies, ants and mosquitoes that make the environment uncomfortable for dwellers.
Speaking to Reporters from the WASH Reporters & Editors Network of Liberia as part of the Exclusive Media Focus on Sanitation with support from WaterAid Liberia and Sierra Leone, residents continue to complain that government has abandoned them, ignoring its sole responsibility to protect her citizens and make their living environment conducive.
Madam Wade Julius-Morris, Women’s Leader of the Community told WASH Journalists: “what we as residents of Whein Town are going through an unbearable condition as you can see, this garbage site put here by government is gradually killing us as our environment is no long friendly”.
Madam Morris said: “there is no need for me to narrate the genesis of this garbage site because you Journalists know the story more than us, but what is regrettable and frustrating is that [this] government has reneged on the many promises made to us over the years”.
“From the pollution of our private wells in the community due to the garbage, the government promised to construct safe water facilities in the community for the residents but to our surprise, two reservoirs were erected. How can this little reservoir you see behind me, adequately serve and supply water to a community with over sixteen thousand dwellers?”, she wondered.
Mrs. Morris further indicated that in line with the Liberian Government’s promises, the health center is yet to be built. Besides: “President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf said that government’s interventions in addressing the residents’ concerns could be done in two phases, short and long terms, but we do not know when it will be done”, the Women’s Leader emphasized.
Another female resident of the area, Sano Gaye who is just a stone throw from the garbage site called on government to relocate the site to a non-residential area/community.
Mrs. Gaye said the situation of the garbage is worsening every day, as there is an increase in the odors of the garbage as well as ants and flies causing them to get sick daily, especially the young children.
“We are treated like foreigners in our own country from our present condition as you Journalists can see. When we are eating, we and the flies can be fighting because we don’t want flies sit on our food..flies are carriers of various diseases and germs”, Madam Gaye stressed.
She added that: “in the day we have the flies and the ants to deal with and at night the mosquitoes can actually give as hell, even when we burn the Chinese mosquitoes’ tables and the coils”.
Mrs. Gaye said for the past four years they have been promised by the Liberian Government through the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC) that the community will be sprayed and residents will be provided medical treatment and mosquito nets, but are yet to receive the items.
She pointed out that few months back when the garbage was guttered by fire and the fire was embarrassing them, she had to spend over two hundred United States dollars to treat her children who got sick from the effect of that fire.
For his part, a male resident, Roland Gaye said: “This garbage site is doing us more harm than good”.
Mr. Gaye told WASH Journalists: “though I am not a water expert but for us that are closer to this garbage site, there is no good water for drinking because all the wells are yellow and have bad odors”.
“For now we are graceful to God because it is rainy season and we can get rain water to drink, bath and wash our cloth”. He stated.
When contacted, authorities at the Monrovia City Corporation, MCC said an Inter-Agency Committee was set up by government to review the situation at Whein Town with appropriate actions taken.
The WASH Media Network was informed that the MCC, Ministry of Public Works, Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation, Environmental protection Agency, among others were assigned specific tasks in helping to assist residents of Whein Town.
Up to present from information gathered by the WASH Media Network, no concrete action has been taken to address the situation in Whein Town.