'We Want Accountability' Protesters Clash with Sukleen Employees in Karantinaإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
The We Want Accountability campaign on Monday accused employees from the Sukleen waste management firm of beating up its protesters during a sit-in outside the company's headquarters in Karantina.
The campaign also posted pictures of a protester with a bruised face on its Facebook page.
A spokesperson for the campaign said the sit-in was organized “after the cabinet renewed Sukleen's contract despite the presence of a judicial ruling against it on charges of bribery and corruption.”
She also confirmed that several people were lightly injured in a clash between protesters and Sukleen employees and guards.
Media reports said the two sides exchanged blows and hurled sticks, empty bottles and rocks against each other, with some protesters smashing parts of the company's glass facade.
On Sunday, unknown individuals torched a Sukleen garbage truck in the Dawhat Aramoun area in protest at the reopening of the controversial Naameh landfill.
We Want Accountability has recently accused Sukleen of corruption in its handling of the country's waste management file in the past two decades.
On March 2, Financial Prosecutor Ali Ibrahim filed a lawsuit against the Sukleen and Sukomi firms on charges of “squandering public funds.” Ibrahim's move was based on a lawsuit that was filed by Kataeb Party chief MP Sami Gemayel.
Gemayel has also filed a lawsuit against the Council for Development and Reconstruction for its long running failure to follow up on the trash management file since Sukleen and its subsidiary Sukomi were tasked with collecting, sorting and land-filling garbage in Beirut and Mount Lebanon in 1994.
Stressing that Sukleen should have been inquired about its procedures of handling and sorting the waste, Gemayel lashed out saying: “For many years, Sukleen has been responsible for removing the trash and has failed in its work. Instead of land-filling 20% of the garbage, it was land-filling 80% in Naameh, which brought us to this disaster today.”
Reports have emerged that Sukleen has failed to abide by the conditions that were set in the contract with regard to the amounts of trash that should have been sorted, recycled and land-filled.
Sukleen has recently issued a statement in which it clarified that it had been “campaigning, without success, since 1997 to have the Government provide (it) with more land, as per the contracts, to build additional composting and sorting plants.”
“For this purpose, and during our years of operation, 323 letters have been sent to the concerned authorities. These letters are documented in our registers and in the registers of the authorities who have received them,” the firm added.
Lebanon's most recent trash management crisis erupted in July 2015 after the closure of the Naameh landfill that receives the trash of the capital and Mount Lebanon.
The crisis, which sparked unprecedented protests against the entire political class, has seen streets, forests and riverbanks overflowing with waste and the air filled with the smell of rotting and burning garbage.
On Saturday, workers began removing tons of rubbish that have piled up around Beirut under a government plan aimed at ending the eight-month crisis.
Civil society activists and environmental experts meanwhile lashed out at the government's plan, warning that it does nothing to allay the ecological concerns that took them to the streets in the first place.
The government last week said it would reopen the Naameh landfill for two months to ease the crisis, but civil society activists have opposed the plan, demanding a more environmentally sound solution.
Naameh was set up in the early 1990s as a temporary measure. Activists and nearby residents have long opposed the use of the site but when it was shut in July no alternative was proposed.
Two other landfills are also planned for Bourj Hammoud, a mainly Armenian suburb of northern Beirut, and Costa Brava to the south of the capital, likely for four years.
The government also intends to set up a landfill for the Aley and Chouf regions.