Village residents reject waste disposal of Lebanon's garbage, block highway in protest

Published July 26th, 2015 - 05:36 GMT

Fuming Chouf residents blocked the Beirut-Sidon highway Sunday to protest the disposal of Beirut and Mount Lebanon’s garbage in their villages, threatening to prolong the country’s week-long garbage crisis.

Residents from the Iqlim al-Kharoub region blocked the Beirut-Sidon highway near the town of Barja, preventing four garbage trucks from transferring waste into the area, the state-run National News Agency reported.

According to NNA, a number of men also protested near the entrance of the Sibline cement factory in order to prevent garbage trucks from transferring waste to it.

NNA reported that protesters erected tents in the middle of the highway and blocked the western lane (from Beirut) with a tow truck.

All traffic has been diverted to internal roads, causing bumper-to-bumper traffic.

The angry protesters vowed not to reopen the highway until an official decision is issued by concerned authorities to back down on attempts to turn their neighborhoods into a large landfill.

The demonstration was joined by municipal heads, religious figures and activists.

Later some protesters blocked the entrance of Barja with sand and stones to prevent garbage trucks from entering the town.

The Chouf town, home to about 55,000 residents, has been the site of several protracted struggles over waste disposal.

Despite Sunday's protests, Sukleen trucks were spotted collecting the waste that flooded Beirut streets.

Beirut Mayor Bilal Hamad told The Daily Star that "if everything goes according to plan, then the collection of garbage will take a few days."

However, Hamad refused to reveal the location of the temporary landfills that the waste will be transferred to.

"Wait and see," he added.

Environment Minister Mohammad Machnouk announced Saturday evening that garbage collection will resume in Beirut and Mount Lebanon in a matter of hours after the ministry located new landfill sites, declaring an end to a six-day crisis that saw the capital and its suburbs buried under piles of waste.

The solution was reached after “intensive efforts” were taken by Prime Minister Tammam Salam, Machnouk added.

Massive mounds of garbage have accumulated on streets in Beirut and Mount Lebanon since Sukleen suspended trash collection on July 19, two days after the closure of the 17-year-old Naameh landfill by local residents.

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