Residents of Lebanon’s northern Akkar province have obstructed efforts to establish a sanitary landfill that is key part of the government’s plan to address the country’s worsening waste crisis.
“Young men from around Srar obstructed bulldozers currently working on the construction of a landfill near the Akkar village and stopped work from progressing,” Lebanon’s state National News Agency reported on Thursday.
The latest protest measure comes as activists continue their sit-in at the Abboudiyeh intersection near Srar a bid to prevent garbage trucks from reaching the site, which is currently an open garbage dump.
“The tent of the sit-in against the construction of the Srar landfiil is still standing at the Abboudiyeh intersection,” the NNA reported at midday.
The activists set the tent up on Tuesday, the same day that the head of Akkar municipalities gave their formal approval for the establishment of the sanitary landfill in a meeting with Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk.
"If the state commits to it, no one would object to setting up the landfill," the local officials said in a statement.
Despite the support from Akkar officials, a number of the province’s residents have gathered around the “Akkar is not a dump” grassroots group to protest against setting up a landfill in north Lebanon.
The group’s latest protest came on Sunday in the province’s largest town of Halba, which was attended by MP Khaled Daher.
The firebrand MP vowed in the protest that "not a single garbage truck would be allowed into Akkar.”
Lebanon’s cabinet on September 9 approved Agriculture Minister Akram Chehayeb’s waste management plan, which calls for the temporary one-week reopening of the Naameh landfill, the creation of two new sanitary landfills in the Bekaa and Akkar, as well as “restoring” the role of local municipalities in handling garbage.
In the ensuing month, Chehayeb and other cabinet officials have held meetings with municipal officials in order to gain support for an Akkar landfill and the reopening of the Naameh one, while plans for establishing a facility in Bekaa have been held back by concerns over environmental safety.
The Naameh landfill was originally established in 1998 as a temporary facility, however it stayed operation until July 17, when it was finally shut down following months of local anger.
Following its closure, the Lebanese state was caught unprepared to handle the trash issue as garbage piled up on the streets of the capital and Mount Lebanon, sparking the formation of the grassroots #YouStink movement