Taking a cue from its neighbor city Tel Aviv Lebanon’s regional “landmark”, Sidon’s notorious garbage mountain, will now become a city park. Sidon’s stench was once so bad that locals used to say that “you smell it before you can see it.” This hideous site, the result of garbage trucks dumping straight into the sea not only detracted considerably from the beauty of one of the country’s most historical cities, but has been causing serious marine pollution as well.
This ungreen reality is now in the process of being greatly improved, due to an industrious clean up project by the city municipality and overseen by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
These efforts are now transforming the former Sidon dump also known as the Saida dump from a foul smelling garbage mountain into a green park: “It’s gone from a 58-metre (190-foot) trash mountain to an eight-metre green mound. We’ve cleaned up the sewage, and the trash mountain is gone,” said Sidon’s mayor Mohamed al-Saudi.
The garbage mound came into being during the 15 year Lebanese Civil War (1975 to 1990) when a place was needed to take large amounts of rubble caused by the bombing and shelling. At one point, a large part of the mound’s total size was made up of rubble from destroyed buildings.
Mayor al-Saudi, who came into office in Sidon with a pledge to rid the city of the dump, says he is proud of this project, which will join the former garbage dump to a large 33,000 sq. meter public park that will contain 100 year old olive trees and an amphitheatre.
The dump itself was moved further south.
Edgard Shabab, assistant resident representative and manager of the Energy and Environment Program of UNDP, told Your Middle East that in eight years time “the former mountain of shame will be part of a 100,000 sq. meter green park and something that Sidon will be very proud of. ”
Not everyone is impressed by the project, however, as the costs involved have exceeded more than $25 million USD which critics say could have been put to better use. The project has also caused damage to a long stretch of beachfront, according to Mohamed Sarji, president of the Lebanese Union of Professional Divers.
Despite the objections, the outcome of this project will be far better than the former smelly garbage mountain. Projects like this one will eventually make the entire region a much better place to live in, and help preserve the environment in Lebanon for future generations.
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Image of Sidon City from Shutterstock