Heavy rainfall triggers flooded trash streams in Beirut

Heavy rainfall on Oct. 25, 2015 causes rivers of trash to pollute Beirut's streets. (Photo via Ahmed Hindawi)

(BEIRUT) — Heavy rainfall triggered streams of trash to flow through Beirut’s streets on Sunday, causing traffic congestion and widespread rivers of garbage.

Lebanese #YouStink activists posted photos and videos on social media showing piles of trash scattered through side streets and around cars.

The garbage has occupied Beirut’s streets for months now after the government shut down the country’s main landfill in Naameh without finding an alternative.

Over the last few months, #YouStink campaign officials have led historic protests against the government, demanding basic services and trash pickup.

The cabinet approved a plan in early September which would temporarily reopen the Naameh landfill while the government searched for new sites. But many locals voiced concern over that plan, causing the government to reconsider other alternatives.

Several government officials are concerned that solutions to the trash crisis have reached a dead end, indicating the failure to provide the most basic services to residents.

According to the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat, a ministerial source said Prime Minister Tammam Salam would not remain in office if the trash disposal plan of Agriculture Minister Akram Shehayyeb is not adopted.

The plan – announced after six hours of deliberation between the Lebanese cabinet – aims to decentralize waste management by giving municipalities the responsibility.

On Sunday, Minister of Transportation and Public Works Ghazi Zoaiter took blame for the rivers of trash, citing a failure by the government to act swiftly.

“I assume responsibility in my position as minister of public works, but I have for months warned of an environmental disaster after the first rainfall,” he told Voice of Lebanon Radio (93.3).

Zoaiter urged the ministerial committee assigned to the trash crisis to make a , “because we are only at the beginning of the winter season.”

According to Beirut’s Civil Aviation meteorology department, widespread showers are expected to continue until Thursday.

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