by Hana Namrouqa | Aug 01, 2012

AMMAN — The amount of garbage generated in Amman each day has nearly doubled during Ramadan, leaving trash containers overflowing on the capital’s streets, officials and residents said.

“Waste has increased during Ramadan by about twofold. Our teams usually collect around 1,800 tonnes of garbage per day; now they collect more than 3,000 tonnes per day,” Mohammad Amaireh, director of the Greater Amman Municipality’s (GAM) waste operations and sanitation department, told The Jordan Times.

Amman residents complained that this increase in garbage, which typically begins piling up one hour after iftar, has been causing dumpsters to overflow… if the trash makes it into the dumpster in the first place.

“People place their trash bags on the pavement just outside their houses after iftar, which is unsightly, let alone the stench and how cats tear the bags and scatter the leftover food,” Eman Abdullah, a resident of the Jabal Hussein neighbourhood, told The Jordan Times.

Abdullah said that keeping the streets clean requires both residents and authorities to act, noting that part of the blame for the current situation lies with people who do not bother to place their trash bags in dumpsters, although they are found on every street corner.

“People should act responsibly and GAM must improve its deteriorating garbage collection during Ramadan,” the mother of two said.

Her neighbour, Raed Sharman, agreed and called on GAM to step up its sanitation measures, especially during the holy month.

“People cook extra food during Ramadan, partly because they fast all day, and most families hold iftar banquets and invite people over, which means more food and more waste,” said Sharman, a lawyer and a father of four.

Amaireh, however, pointed out that changes in consumption patterns during Ramadan and cooking extra food is not the only reason behind the rise in the amount of trash.

“Amman’s population increased by more than 1.2 million people this summer because of the return of expatriates and the rise in the number of tourists from Arab and Gulf countries,” which also contributed to the capital’s trash problem, the GAM official said.

“To handle this increase in waste generation and to keep our streets clean, we hired 450 street cleaners on July 1 and assigned them to work in three shifts,” he added.

The municipality has also increased the number of garbage containers, especially around parallel markets, hospitals and malls, Amaireh highlighted.

“This situation is only temporary and will end with the end of Ramadan and the departure of tourists and expatriates.”

In the meantime, GAM Press Office Director Nidal Khresha called on residents to dispose of their domestic waste at designated sites in order to help keep the capital’s streets clean.

“People should cooperate… throw the trash bag inside the container, not near it,” Khresha said.