In a stroke of pure “magic,” our politicians have “solved” the country’s garbage crisis. In the beginning there was Sukleen and the Nehmeh dump. Now, we have Sukleen again – yes, seriously – and the Nehmeh dump, in Beirut’s proximity, has been moved to a place that’s more than a hundred kilometers away from Beirut.
In a stroke of utter “genius,” the Lebanese government has decided that the Northern caza of Akkar will now be where the people of Beirut and its suburbs dump their garbage. In case you had your doubts before, be certain now: Lebanon does not have its areas equal. There’s Beirut and Mount Lebanon, a beacon of hope and love to the masses and the tourists and where all the money flows, and there are the peripheries, notably North Lebanon, where the only thing fitting is to give its people those other regions’ trash.
Sukleen will also be handling garbage again at the price of about $160/ton, that’s more than what they used to get paid before, and about 4 times the normal amount that any decent country in the world pays to handle garbage.
Akkar – The Real Tragedy:
Here’s how the situation is in Akkar today:
- There are villages that got electricity for the FIRST time in 2013 (link).
- There are villages that do NOT have road access yet. I remind you this is 2015.
- The caza does NOT have any decent hospital in it. Its people have to make the trip to Tripoli to begin getting decent medical coverage, and a lot of them have to make the trip even further south to Beirut in order not to die.
- The caza does NOT have any decent schools and universities. Its people have to make the trip to Tripoli as well or move to Beirut for better opportunities.
- Akkar is the country’s poorest area on record, only paralleled in poverty by Tripoli’s Tebbaneh and Jabal Mohsen areas. The numbers are astronomical: 40% of the population is considered poor and more than 18% live below the extreme poverty line.
- The “best” way for the people of Akkar to make a living is for its men to risk their lives volunteering in the army; hence, calling Akkar “the basin of the army.”
Why don’t you hear about any of this? Well, I’ve tried to highlight how horrendous the condition in my region (the North) is on many occasions, but when it’s that *far* for the people of Beirut, as is anything north of the Madfoun checkpoint, nobody cares.
Another aspect of why you don’t hear about this is because no one, even Akkar’s politicians, care. The only time they do give a rat’s ass is come election time, in order to give the starving population a loaf of bread, a few sandwiches and a couple hundred bucks to sustain them through the coming four years (or seven).
Well, now we have another reason to give Akkar a second glance, so let’s spin this positively: Lebanon’s politicians have FINALLY remembered Akkar other than at the time of elections. Hurray!
How so? Well, our government and politicians want to turn areas of Akkar into the garbage dump for Beirut and its Greater Area’s garbage. Obviously, because they say no other region in the country can work, but it’s because the people there are so poor they can’t fight the decision of the government to kill them before their own eyes.
The details of the Akkar deal are as follows:
Ahmad el Hariri met several weeks ago with Tarek El Marhebi, the son of former MP Talal el Marhebi, who agreed to give him a land of around 1.4 million squared meters, to which was added another property culminating in about 2 million squared meters of area, in order to create a garbage dump to solve Beirut’s garbage problem, in an area is called Srar.
The Ministry of Environmental Affairs then studied the land and came to the conclusion that the type of soil used was NOT compatible with that required to do a dump, risking the toxins of the garbage infiltrating down to the underground water, which supplies the many villages of the caza since the government has NOT supplied the area with water as it is.
The Future Movement figures involved the aforementioned deal “denied” such claims a few weeks back. Today, with the news of such a dump being closer to reality than anyone expended, the claims they denied are not only true, they’re becoming a reality.
How is the government trying to buy the silence of the people in Akkar in order to effectively kill them with the waste of a region that is more than a hundred kilometers away? 100 million USD will be used to fund select developmental projects in the caza over the course of the next three years, money that is Akkar’s right and for which it does NOT have to reciprocate with receiving Beirut’s garbage. And to make things worse, the area will probably never going to see that development anyway.
This is governance 001 for the Lebanese system that doesn’t seem to care for an area unless it’s called Beirut and Friends:
- No, it’s not acceptable to silence the people of that area with money that you haven’t used for years to give them their rightful development, money that is rightfully theirs,
- No, it’s not acceptable to risk the health and lives of hundreds of thousands of people because you’re worried about the image that having your capital drown in garbage gives to the world,
- No, it’s not acceptable to risk the greenest region in the country’s environment because you’re too bloody corrupt to come up with a solution that limits your monetary return,
- No, it’s not acceptable and will not be accepted that Akkar ends up as Beirut’s garbage dump.
Akkar Isn’t The Only Northern Entity To Get Screwed:
If you thought Akkar was alone in getting screwed, you thought wrong. The entire North is under threat of being turned into Beirut’s waste disposal zone. Batroun’s areas of Hamat and Rasenhash have received a few shipments of garbage trucks from Beirut already. For reference, the area has your very lovable picturesque Nourieh convent.
Kefraya, in the Koura caza, also received a few garbage shipments, as did the city of Amioun before its people blocked roads and protested.
Tripoli is also having a true environmental disaster as it keeps getting shipments of Jounieh’s garbage, which are polluting its sea, soil and air. In the meantime, Jounieh’s mayor is bragging his city is the first to clear its garbage mess. How despicable.
I’m a son of the North. Batroun is my home. Koura is my home. Tripoli is my home. Akkar is my home. This is my land, and I will not have my land ruined, tarnished, maimed and irrevocably damaged just because I exist in a system that thinks I’m worthless for not having “Mount Lebanon” or “Beirut” stamped across my ID.
I’m a son of the North. My region is the country’s most forgotten, most ignored, most ridiculed and most stereotyped. My region is the country’s least developed and least considered (except when it’s for garbage it seems).
I’m a son of the North, and I will not have my home be filled with the garbage of those who not only couldn’t care less about it, but who will very likely not give a rat’s ass about where their garbage is heading the moment they don’t see it on their streets anymore.
I’m a son of the North and I say this: “Kell wa7ad yemsa7 kha*a b ido.”
Great post man…
I am from Akkar and I live in Beirut for the same reasons.you mentionned.
When I heard the decision, my heart broke.
How can this be possible? And is that a final decision?
Furthermore, and even if I do NOT belong to any political party in Lebanon, I want to express my admiration to the FPM and Hezbollah ministers who withdrew from the meeting because of this.. It might be a special agenda.. I dont know, but it seems they are the first ones who are actually beginning to think positively what the people are demanding.
Thank you elie for a great post as usual. Cheers
I salute you for raising the flag to what these rotten politicians want to do to the beautiful and sadly neglected North. I couldn’t agree more with you and I believe we should all keep fighting against this flagrantly corrupt system and people.
Is Lebanon in a position at all to export its garbage? This is what Italy did…
Pingback: Could this enduring Garbage crisis become the issue that breaks Lebanon’s status quo politics? | Adonis Diaries
Pingback: This Is North Lebanon That Our Governments Don’t Give A Shit About | A Separate State of Mind | A Blog by Elie Fares
Pingback: Why garbage may be the issue that breaks Lebanon’s status quo politics - Yesterdays Prophecy Todays News