The government’s inability to provide basic services, including 24-hour electricity and garbage collection, is rooted in an agreement that ended Lebanon’s civil war nearly 30 years ago. The deal divided power between the nation’s 18 recognized religious sects, effectively institutionalizing corruption, with each group able to dole out government jobs, contracts, favors and social services to its followers.
…The perpetual garbage crisis is only the most pungent example. It last exploded into public view in 2015, when the country’s political elite squabbled over a lucrative waste-management contract as mountains of uncollected trash fouled the streets of Beirut. A wave of protests ensued.
The stopgap solution was to build two new landfills. Three years after they opened, the landfills have only relocated the garbage crisis to the coast, and they are fast threatening to hit capacity.
…Employees dumped trash and toxic waste directly into the Mediterranean.
…Mr. Khoury’s company was dumping trash into the landfill without sorting it, despite a contractual requirement that recyclables be separated and hazardous material be removed.
Moreover, she found, the landfill’s breakwaters in the Mediterranean were not keeping the trash out of the water. Garbage and the toxic liquid oozing from it were going straight into the sea.
…For several years, the government has promoted incineration as a long-term solution, despite objections from environmentalists and scientists.
In June, the environment minister, Fadi Jreissati, told The Daily Star, a local newspaper, that he did not think Lebanon was “qualified” to regulate the incinerators.
…A major reason that Lebanon does not produce enough electricity for its four million people, experts say, is the powerful lobby of generator owners, whose machines provide power during daily blackouts, as well as the $1.2 billion-a-year diesel industry that fuels them.
..Hospitals, roads, schools and other projects are distributed to favored contractors according to sectarian quotas that ensure every group benefits, regardless of necessity.