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CommentaryLiberia newsON 2ND THOUGHT

On 2nd Thoughts: Getting tough on Monrovia Waste Management

By Othello B. Garblah

Citizens’ indiscriminate throwing and piling of garbage along major roadways and street corners in the City of Monrovia have continued unabated in disregard to the city’s zoning code.

Citizens throw or pile garbage on major road shoulders and street corners at random with impunity in total disregard for the zoning code, which was put in place to preserve the modernity of the city some decades ago.

Monrovia, a city established in 1822, barely 25 years before the Declaration of Independence in 1847, passed its City Ordinance laws decades later in the 1970s, as the city experienced its population growth.

In 1950, the City of Monrovia’s population was estimated at 35,150 people. According to the World Population Review, by 1970, the city’s population had grown by 6.28% from a steady growth rate of 2.78% in 1951 and subsequent years recording 164,121 people.

With such an increasing growth in the city’s population in 1970, city authorities passed the City Ordinance No.1 law, which forbids littering in the streets to maintain its tidiness and protect the health of all.

Although this law remains enforced today, the current city authorities do not seem to be implementing it. The pile of garbage along roadways and street corners even on construction sites is appalling.

These piles of garbage are usually seen in front of homes close to the shoulders of the road or across the roadways near private homes and market halls as the disgusting odor spreads through the air, while local city authorities look the other way.

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Unfortunately, these very citizens whose home and business fronts are used to pile garbage laughed the country to scorn when it is rated as the dirtiest city in Africa.

There seems to be no patriotism among citizens. Most Liberians even the non-tax paying ones believe it is the duty of the government to go as far as even cleaning the mess from their homes.

Therefore, piling dirt on major street corners and roadways seems like telling the city’s government “it is time to come and clean the mess we have created”- a sign of indiscipline at the highest.

The problem is even compounded by community garbage collectors licensed and unlicensed by city authorities. They collect garbage from private homes for minimum fees but have no designated dumpsites for their collections.

Most of the garbage they collect is dumped at night in unexpected places. Again doing so in disregard to the City Ordinance law, while private homes and businesses close by look in the other direction.

In other jurisdictions, for example, private businesses and homes adjacent to the sidewalk or major roads are responsible for helping keep the environment clean and safer for everyone.

Holding private homes and business owners close by these unauthorized dumpsites accountable for garbage piles would serve as a deterrent. They could help keep the place clean and safer by carrying out citizens’ arrests of violators and turning them over to city authorities for prosecution. This would help in keeping the city clean too.

In Michigan, USA, for example, residents and businesses are required to clear sidewalks adjacent to their property of snow and ice within 12 hours of the end of a snowfall, failure which leads to a fine-And God helps you that no one makes an accident or sustain personal injuries due to your failure to keep the front of your home or business clear.

Michigan snow removal laws include local law, sometimes called local ordinances, as well as state statutes. State statutes apply to everybody.

First, according to state statute, when removing snow, you cannot “deposit or cause to be deposited snow, ice, or slush onto or across the roadway, or on the shoulder of the roadway that obstructs the safety vision of a driver.” In short, when removing snow from your property, you can’t put it in a place that obstructs someone’s safety vision.

According to the state law: “A person shall not deposit, or cause to be deposited, snow, ice or slush on any roadway or highway.” That means if snow is falling off your vehicle, you are breaking the law. If you don’t clean the snow off your vehicle, you could be fined up to $100 per offense.

The City of Monrovia has similar ordinances in its code. Unfortunately, it has either refused to implement such against private homeowners along roadways. Sometime last year, the New Dawn was fined US1000 for allowing people to dump garbage at the back of its offices by a joint GSA and MCC Taskforce headed by GSA Director Mary Broh. The paper’s offices were closed, and the fine was paid before it was opened.

The New Dawn immediately erected a wall to prevent garbage collectors from dumping dirt at the back of its offices. The place has remained clean since then. This is what responsibility does.  

Until the city government move to implement its city ordinances, garbage will continue to swamp the city.

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