Trash has piled up across the country after the country’s largest landfill site was closed.
Lebanese protesters slowed rush hour traffic on several highways leading to capital Beirut on Monday to protest against the reopening of a landfill which authorities say will ease an eight-month rubbish crisis.
Members of the the “You Stink” movement briefly blocked roads with some even lying down on the highway leading north from the capital before being pushed back by security forces, local reports say.
“Today we are sending a message to the government, these were symbolic actions,” activist Assad Thebian told the AFP news agency. “We are in discussion with unions and organisations to step up our action for next time.”
Traffic resumed its normal pace by mid-morning, however protesters remained on to the side of a highway, north of Beirut, for a number of hours, Thebian said.
Lebanon, which borders Syria to the north, has been in the midst of a trash crisis since the closure of the country’s largest landfill in July with rubbish piling up on beaches, in mountain forests and river beds across the country.
On Saturday, the government said it would temporarily reopen a landfill, but “You Stink” and other civil society movements that oppose the plan pledged to block roads and called for a general strike.
The activists’ demands include a transfer of waste management to municipalities and a boosting of the country’s rubbish recycling capabilities.
Some 3,000 protesters marched to central Beirut on Saturday, demanding a permanent solution to the crisis, with some carrying banners calling for the “fall of the government.”
In past demonstrations, protesters have repeatedly rejected the reopening of the Naameh landfill, calling for a comprehensive and long-term solution to the crisis.
Naameh was set up in the early 1990s as a temporary measure.
Earlier this month “You Stink” posted on its Facebook page a haunting video of mountains of trash festering across Lebanon.
In one of the shots filmed by a drone, plastic bags containing rubbish can be seen stretching for miles like a flowing river.
The footage, which was widely shared ahead of the demonstration, mocked the tourism ministry over a video it had commissioned to highlight Lebanon’s natural beauty.
Protesters are sprayed with water during a protest against against the government’s failure to resolve a crisis over rubbish disposal, near the government palace in Beirut, Lebanon Aug. 23, 20 | Photo: Reuters