Banner Image: Ambassador Laurent Delahousse, wearing a mask. The DayLight/James Harding Giahyue
By Stephen L Bernard Jr.
MONROVIA – Laurent Delahousse, the ambassador of the European Union to Liberia, has apologized for saying that “Monrovia is the dirtiest” he has ever visited.
Delahousse’s statement at the Monrovia City Forum on Solid Waste Management on Tuesday was immediately refuted by Jefferson Koijee, the Mayor of the city. It also came in for mixed reaction on social media, causing him to retract his statement.
“I sincerely apologize to the Government of Liberia and anyone feeling misrepresented by these remarks and willingly retract the exaggerated wording I used,” Delahousse said early on Friday morning, three days after he made the controversial remarks. “In no way were my remarks intended to disparage anyone or to affect the reputation of the beautiful capital city of Liberia.
“In no way my intention to take a political stance that would be absolutely contrary to my ethics and mission as a diplomat.”
The European Union is one of the biggest investors in Liberia’s solid waste management sector, investing 5 million euros in the Greater Monrovia area. The money provides support to community-based enterprises and organizations. However, solid waste continues to elude the capital, with garbage littering the streets and blocking drainages on major routes. The markets are even worst, some garbage pilling up for marketplaces for months.
Delahousse said he had meant to send a “wakeup call” to people living in the Monrovians to change their practices of littering and to improve the waste management system.
Koijee, speaking after Delahousse at the forum, blamed the over-crowdedness of Monrovia—which is home to more than a million people—for the city’s garbage problems.
Representative Acarous Gray of District No.8 of Montserrado County also refuted the European envoy’s assertions.
“Monrovia in Africa by all environmental standards and scientific research is not the dirtiest of African cities,” said Gray, whose constituency falls within the heart of the city. “They are public research records to disprove such an unfortunate assertion.’’
There are no globally accepted rankings for the dirtiest cities on the continent. Liberia did not feature on Forbes’ 2008 list of dirtiest cities in the world. However, Naijaquest, a Nigerian blog, lists Buchanan, Grand Bassa County alongside Abuja, Nigeria and Accra, Ghana.