Beirut: Despite battling the summer heat in Lebanon without air conditioning, Judge Faisal Makki avoids drinking too much water because the toilets at Justice Palace are broken. It works, but if you want to use it, you’ll need to bring your own paper and ink cartridges, as the ministry can’t afford office supplies. State institutions have reached a state of disrepair that reflects Lebanon’s wider collapse amid a political crisis and economic turmoil that the World Bank has branded as one of the worst countries in the modern world.
Even in the corridors of power, the paint is peeling off and the lights are out. “There is no paper, no ink, no pens, no envelopes, no functioning toilets, not even running water,” Macchi, who has been a judge for 21 years, told AFP. “I try not to drink water while I’m at work, so I don’t have to come home or go to the nearby attorney’s office just to use the restroom,” he said.
Staff members are sometimes trapped in elevators due to power outages, or forced to descend dark stairs with cell phone flashlights. I said I did. More civil servants are going on strike or staying at home with their employers’ approval. “The basic requirements of public institutions are no longer available,” Macchi said.
Lebanon’s downward spiral has faced inaction by officials who have yet to show a path out of a widely condemned three-year economic crisis. Congress, which has not yet approved a budget for 2022, has rarely convened since it was elected three months ago. Lebanon’s president and prime minister have not reached agreement on a new government since his outgoing cabinet’s term expired in May.
In recent years, public sector salaries have plummeted to $40 per month as the Lebanese pound has fallen more than 90% against the dollar on the black market. Her 50-year-old mother of two children, who has worked for the Home Office for 26 years, now has little motivation to go to work, she says. A civil servant in the eastern district of Beirut, who requested anonymity for fear of retaliation, now says she only shows up once every two weeks, which is just above the de facto threshold for resigning. .
With no electricity, employees have to climb seven flights of stairs in the dark to reach the office, she said. “The tiles on the stairs are missing,” she said. “Every time I go up or down, I risk breaking my neck.” The woman, whose monthly salary has dropped from $1,600 to about $75, said she never imagined things would get this bad. “The embodiment of poverty is being an employee of the Lebanese state,” she said.
Across Lebanon, corrupt institutions have deprived citizens of the most basic services. A power outage in parliament forced lawmakers to postpone the session, and at one point this year the Ministry of Internal Affairs ran out of passports. The Lebanese army can barely afford to pay and feed its soldiers, forcing many to quit or take second jobs. The Ministry of the Environment has yet to fully repair the damage caused by the massive and deadly Beirut port explosion in August 2020. “The door is still broken and won’t close,” Environment Minister Nasser Yassin told AFP, adding that bulkheads and false ceilings were still in disrepair.
Some meeting rooms have no lights and employees bring their own toilet paper. The main municipal building in the northern city of Tripoli, which was set on fire last year by demonstrators enraged by the economic crisis, is a striking example of the decline of the state. Its employees work in offices with crumbling soot-covered walls, no air conditioning, and little lighting. “The situation is getting worse and worse,” said former Tripoli mayor Riyad Yamak, who was sacked in September over political unrest. “We are headed for total collapse and pervasive chaos.” – AFP