Judge unhappy over Liberia’s failed waste management system
By Lincoln G. Peters
A Liberian judge assigned in Nimba County, hopes the country can combat and defeat plastic waste, expressing disappointment over the country’s failure in waste management.
Delivering a change recently, Judge George W. Smith said it’s so saddening that Liberia fought collectively and defeated COVID-19 and Ebola, and yet, the country is unable to defeat environmental waste especially plastic waste.
“When EBOLA and COVID-19 invaded this Country and waged wars on us, we showed patriotism, honor, and duty to our Country and therefore we won those wars,” said Judge Smith.
“Unfortunately, we are yet to defeat one war that is continuously being waged on us – a war that continues to affect our health and even sometimes takes our lives,” he said further.
According to Judge Smith, plastic waste destroys properties and besmears and degrades the environmental beauty of the country.
“That war, a war easier to combat and defeat than EBOLA and COVID-19, is the war of littering of plastic bags and other dirt in the streets,” he said.
According to him, the Public Health Law of Liberia, the Environment Sanitation provisions thereof, and the City Ordinances prohibit the disposal of plastic bags and dirt in the streets, gutters, drainages, and all public and private places.
Judge Smith indicated that violation of the City Ordinances is punishable by fines up to imprisonment.
“The … Legislature has set the stage by providing their contingent of soldiers, through direct and dedicated (City Ordinances) legislations to battle against the war [of] plastic bags and dirt … waged against Liberia,” he said.
He suggested that the Executive and Judiciary must provide their combatants by prosecuting and punishing those who violate the Environmental Sanitation Laws and City Ordinances.
Generally, he said, the courts do not go outside looking for cases to judge.
He, therefore, called on the Executive to prosecute violators in court.
On the other hand, he said since this war is against all including members of the Judiciary, the courts have a direct stake in this deadly war.
“Therefore, the Supreme Court of Liberia has availed a contingent of soldiers, our magistrates, on the war front to fight this war against the littering of plastic bags and dirt in our country,”
He explained that any Justice of the Peace or Magistrate exercising functions within the limits of cities, towns, and commonwealth districts are vested with jurisdiction over cases arising under the Sanitary Act of December 19, 1930, as amended, and the City Ordinances.
He detailed that the Justice of the Peace or Magistrate shall set aside every Monday in a week for the trial of all cases arising out of the Sanitary Act and City Ordinances issued from time to time.
“Such trials shall be summary and judgments shall be rendered and enforced without delay,” Judge Smith noted.
He, therefore, charged the local and municipal governments and law enforcement departments to cause the arrest and prosecution in the magistrate courts.
Judge Smith stated that violators of the Environmental Sanitation Law and City Ordinances must be punished.
Kudos to you Judge Smith! The entire country is speedily being swallowed up in plastic and other solid waste. What is painfully sad is that that are responsible to act on the looming environmental danger do not seem to care. What are the various city leaders doing? Are they not sensing the danger? What’s about the Environmental Protection Agency? Are they really protecting the environment. It’s a shame!