BEIRUT: Environment Minister Mohammad Machnouk Tuesday urged Lebanese to be patient as the long-awaited shutdown of the controversial Naameh dump has been hit by delays.

“I hope those who were patient for 17 years would understand the situation and help us reach an appropriate solution, especially that [this issue] exhausts all citizens,” Machnouk said in an interview with state-run Lebanon Radio.

He promised that if tenders were approved at a Cabinet meeting Thursday the Naameh dump crisis would be resolved within a few months.

“Closure of the landfill today will punish who?” Machnouk asked. “The government will not be punished because it is working hard. Those who will be punished are the citizens … and the reason is that municipalities’ potential is limited, and no one has a solution.”

“Trash will flood streets and will pile up in front of the homes of all the Lebanese,” he warned.

Machnouk Monday declared that the Naameh dump will not be closed on time.

“We cannot shut down the Naameh landfill on 17th of this month because no alternative is available yet,” Machnouk told a news conference from his office.

Created as a 6-year project in 1997, the landfill has now reached 17 years of age, exceeding its preset maximum capacity by five-fold, and frustrating the residents of the area with its odors and gas emissions.

Defending the “technical extension” against the heavy criticism by residents of the nearby areas and officials backing them, Machnouk explained that Lebanon’s garbage sector cannot be managed without the existence of any landfills.
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