What garbage! Alexandrians dispute claims city is getting cleaner
Egypt's Minister of Urban Development, Layla Iskandar, told local media on Tuesday that she had not seen the city of Alexandria so clean in years, sparking controversy as the city's garbage crisis escalates.
"People are criticising the piling of trash in the streets," she added, "but considering the influx of more than two million summer visitors, as well as the shift into the new cleaning system, the level of Alexandria's cleanliness is good".
"It is an achievement by the people, government bodies, and the governor."
Iskandar was slammed on local and social media for her controversial statements because Alexandria has been suffering from an escalating garbage crisis and poor public services for years, particularly after the 25 January revolution in 2011.
Last month, a young man from Alexandria launched a campaign under the title 'Clean your country' to remove piles of trash from his city's streets after being fed up with the state's neglect and poor public services.
"We are trying to solve the problem, regardless of the reasons behind it", said the campaign leader Mahmoud Azouz in a video released by the Egyptian newspaper Youm 7.
|The garbage crisis was further worsened by the
annual summer influx of domestic tourists [Twitter]
In June, Alexandria's governor Hani el-Messiry, who assumed his position in February this year, issued a press statement explaining his plans to solve the city's garbage crisis.
The statement included short-term solutions, such as fining shops that throw their waste in the streets, as well as long-term solutions, including a national project in cooperation with the Ministry of Urban Development to encourage youths to start small businesses or civil organisations responsible for collecting and recycling waste.
However, the trash crisis continues, and it was further worsened by the annual summer influx of domestic tourists to the beaches of Alexandria.
On Sunday, Messiry took matters into his own hands when he joined a group of youths who led a cleaning campaign in the city, picking up trash himself in a busy neighbourhood.
"I bet Alexandria's governor Hani el-Messiry is following Lebanon's #YouStink protests with great concern”, Ahmad Fouad Anwar tweeted.
A similar yet more intense and violent crisis has been ongoing in the Lebanese capital city of Beirut, another Mediterranean city plagued with a garbage crisis and poor public services, with activists launching the hashtag #YouStink to call for protests and post updates and pictures of the developing situation.
Over the weekend, Beirut riot police fired tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannons, and live ammunition at demonstrators protesting the ongoing garbage crisis.