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Morning brief

Waste woes, gas for taxi drivers, MPs to study Ogero financing: Everything you need to know to start your Tuesday

Here’s what happened yesterday and what to expect today, Tuesday, June 22

Waste woes, gas for taxi drivers, MPs to study Ogero financing: Everything you need to know to start your Tuesday

Garbage overflows from trash cans in Kaslik. Waste has not been collected in the area for several days. (Credit: Suzanne Baaklini)

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For five days in a row, the waste management company Ramco has not collected trash from Metn or Kesrouan, after the landfill it uses in Jdeideh was closed. Speaking with L’Orient Today, Ramco’s head, Walid Bou Saad, said negotiations to reopen the landfill are ongoing. The interruption in services during the past week is the latest in a long line of waste collection failures that have plagued Lebanon, with politicians proving chronically incapable of finding long-term solutions.

With no solution in sight to recent gasoline shortages, the land transport union scrambled to help taxi drivers more easily buy fuel. The union’s head, Bassam Tlais, told L’Orient Today that the Coral gas station branch in Beirut’s Raouche area would exclusively provide taxis, vans and buses with LL50,000 worth of fuel per visit, or a little more than 20 liters. Tlais said he met on Monday with a representative from the petrol company Medco and the head of the fuel distributors’ syndicate, and that further meetings are planned to relieve the burden on public transport drivers. Gas station queues have been choking Beirut’s roads for weeks, and the head of the petroleum importers' association, George Fayad, told L’Orient Today that fuel supplies would only last about another week. The caretaker energy minister on Thursday hinted that subsidies on fuel were nearing an end, advising people who could not afford to fuel their cars to figure out other modes of transport.

With internet outages increasing in frequency, Parliament’s Media and Telecommunications Committee met yesterday to discuss the challenges facing the state’s internet provider. MP Hussein Hajj Hasan said during a press conference that the committee would work to formulate a draft law to provide an additional line of credit for Ogero. Hajj Hasan told L’Orient Today that the credit’s amount would be discussed with Ogero’s head and the caretaker telecommunications minister, adding that the proposed figure would be announced on Monday. The company’s funding for operations and maintenance was slashed from LL190 billion in 2019 to LL48 billion in 2020, while costs in lira for imported equipment have risen as the lira has lost 90 percent of its value. In a worrying sign of potential connectivity problems ahead, Ogero in the past week has announced four failures to its telephone and internet services due to electrical problems, in the Chouf, Mount Lebanon and Aley. Meanwhile, Ogero’s head, Imad Kreidieh, sounded the alarm on June 6, warning that decreased state electricity service and fuel scarcity “seriously threatens Ogero’s ability to provide services.”

Employees at Rafik Hariri University Hospital are set to continue salary protests this morning as the economic crisis continues piling pressures on hospitals and staff. A representative of the aggrieved workers on Monday accused the hospital’s administration of “depriving them of their due rights.” Abdelattif Issa called for the hospital, Lebanon’s front-line facility in confronting the COVID-19 pandemic, to settle back pay and adjust wages to account for the rising cost of living, among other issues. Lebanon’s health care sector has strained under compounding crises, from the coronavirus wave that overwhelmed hospitals at the beginning of the year, to difficulties importing medical supplies, to a brain drain of medical professionals leaving the country. 

Want to get the Morning Brief by email? Click here to sign up.For five days in a row, the waste management company Ramco has not collected trash from Metn or Kesrouan, after the landfill it uses in Jdeideh was closed. Speaking with L’Orient Today, Ramco’s head, Walid Bou Saad, said negotiations to reopen the landfill are ongoing. The interruption in services during the past week is the latest...