Sierra Leone denied Sunday that it has agreed to accept Lebanon’s waste as part of a controversial waste plan approved by the Cabinet last month, the West African nation’s consulate said. In a letter received by The Daily Star, Sierra Leonean General Honorary Consul in Lebanon Donald Roy Joseph Abed said that based on information he got during a phone call with the African nation’s President Ernest Bai Koroma, a report published by As-Safir’s newspaper stating that Sierra Leone accepted in principle to receive Lebanon’s trash was false.
“Sierra Leonean authorities warn against circulating such news and they will exercise their right to resort to the judiciary and file a lawsuit before the State Prosecutor’s Office against all who took part in fabricating such news,” the statement said.
As-Safir daily reported Saturday that Sierra Leone reportedly agreed to accept the trash as part of Cabinet-approved export scheme to stem the nearly six-month-long waste crisis.
The report added that the Lebanese Foreign Ministry received a letter Thursday from Sierra Leone authorities informing it of the country’s willingness to accept its waste.
The letter, which was originally addressed to Holland’s Howa BV firm, is signed by an adviser to Koroma, according to the report.
As-Safir said that the West African nation consented on the condition that the waste be free of toxins, underlining that the approval remains at a preliminary stage until Sierra Leone’s government and president confirm the deal.
The Lebanese government has yet to finalize its export contracts with the two European waste-to-energy firms, Howa BV and Britain’s Chinook Urban Mining International.
They were supposed to be signed Friday, but the Council for Development and Reconstruction failed to finish translating the contracts into English in time.
Agriculture Minister Akram Chehayeb, one of the export scheme’s chief architects, told The Daily Star he expected the paperwork to be finalized by Tuesday.
The two firms were also expected to deposit $2.5 million each to show their commitment alongside signing the contracts, but only the British one did so far, which effectively makes it the only company with the right to transport the garbage.
The two firms have drawn media attention for being selected at a closed-door Cabinet meeting in December, but there is evidence that they had directed multi-million-dollar waste projects in Europe.
The crisis broke out in July when the Environment Ministry closed the Naameh landfill without securing a substitute.
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