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Health hazard looms over Soniwein Community

By Augustine Myers

(mylbsonline/Liberia)- Soniwein Community residents have expressed concern and fear of looming ‘health hazards,’ if nothing is urgently done to remove the huge piled of garbage in the area.

The Soniwein Community is located in the heart of the Liberian Capital, Monrovia, with street corners, schools and market places badly threatened by such looming health hazards.

A resident and marketer of the community, Madam Florence Karlee, wants government’s urgent intervention by taking concrete actions to avert the life threatened phenomenon in the area.

Madam Karlee said:  “We have cried for state authorities’ intervention to clear this huge pile of dirt, but nothing has happened; nobody cares about what is happening, so we are just living here at the mercy of God.”

The garbage is situated between the Soniwein Clinic and the market. It is producing offensive smells, mosquitoes, maggots and disease-carrying flies and pollution in the entire community. 

“This thing has a very great effect on us here. I am selling biter balls and pepper, but the flies are giving us hard time here, as we, including our children, get sick here every time.

We have called on the government to move this garbage site from here and build market hall for us, but nobody cares anyway,” Madam Karlee noted.

Another resident of the Soniwein Community, Joseph Gibson, told mylbsonline that the garbage site has been there for at least 25 years. Mr. Gibson, father of three, lives right in front of the dumpsite.

He said: “This place was bought by former President, Samuel Kayon Doe, in the 1980s to build a playground for children. Doe bought it from one woman only called Mary, now in the United States.” he recalled.

“I have been here for over 20 years now and garbage has been coming here from all over Clay, Lynch and Perry Streets. In fact, they bring garbage here in pickups from places we don’t even know, and we have cried over and over and again for this garbage site to be removed, but to no avail.”  Mr. Gibson added.

He said: “The Monrovia City Corporation and some sanitation companies around here sometimes remove the garbage, but it increases on a daily basis; a situation that poses serious health problem for the community.”

“During the rainy season, the maggots come out;  stinks spread throughout the community, thus making our children contract diseases such as Cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, malaria, typhoid and other sicknesses,” Mr. Gibson also noted.

Another account of the Soniwein Community speaks of thousands of flies buzzing around food stuffs in the area. At the far end, community and marketers’ children defecate in the already stinking garbage.

This has increased the offensive smells in the community as huge rats and roaches crawl out of the dump pile and invade the entire area.

Resident Moinjama Hawa Kamara told mylbsonline that the sanitation problem in Soniwein is not new. 

According to her, former Acting Monrovia City Mayor, Mary Broh, and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, once led a clean-up campaign in the community to give it a face lift,

Soniwein Clinic senior health workers have continuously complained of pollution in the area.

“We cater to thousands of patients here monthly. There is a serious sanitation problem here that is posing deadly health hazards. You can imagine, “health center in health hazard,” She said.

Liberia is one of those African countries losing millions of dollars, due to poor sanitation and hygiene.

A World Bank 2011 survey revealed that 18 African countries, including Liberia, are losing US$5.5 billion annually, due to lack of water and sanitation.

A study conducted in the 18 African countries also revealed: “Between 1% and 2.5% of GDP is also lost as open defecation alone accounts for almost US$2 billion annual losses.

The same World Bank study reported: “Liberia alone loses US$17.5 million each year, due to poor sanitation and this amount is equivalent to US$4.9 per person in Liberia, or 2.0% GDP per year.

“1.2 million Liberians use unsanitary or shared latrines; 1.7 million have no latrines at all. They defecate in the open (like the Soniwein market garbage site).


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