Liberia: Crown Hill, Slip Way Residents Demand Relocation Package Ahead of Bali Island Project
Monrovia – Residents of communities that would be affected by the construction of a bridge to link central Monrovia with Bali Island are proposing an early relocation package before the start of the project.
Report by Edwin G. Genoway, [email protected]
The residents claim government’s early planning of a relocation strategy will ensure the smooth progress of the ‘New Monrovia’ project.
The government recently announced the construction of a modern conference hall on Bali Island.
The residents, who are mostly of the Slip-way and Crown Hill communities, are sending early SOS calls to the government of Liberia to avert any possible tension.
The ‘New Monrovia’ project, according to the government, will also include a bridge construction over the Du River. The construction of the bridge through Sip Way or Crown Hill means residents along the river bank will lose their homes.
Madam Yassah Kamara, 73, has lived in the Slip-Way Community for over 40 years. She is worrying that her home might be demolished to accommodate the construction of the bridge.
Her late husband constructed their home when Slip Way community was isolated. Now, she’s worried about her children and grandchildren becoming homeless.
“It will be frustrating when government made us homeless without giving us a dim for our property,” she said.
Madam Kamara relies on rents from tenants occupying rooms in her five-bedroom house.
“Since my husband died, it is this house that paying my children school fees. The rent I generate every six months is used to pay and take care of my four children and six great grandchildren, so if government takes this place and destroy my house without giving me anything, where will my children live, how will I get money to feed them.”
Meanwhile, the government is tight-lipped on any possible relocation package for residents of the communities. The Ministry of Information has refused to comment on the situation.
A FrontPage Africa reporter was unsuccessful when he visited the Ministry to speak with the appropriate officials to provide details of government plans and a possible relocation package for would-be affected residents.
Assistant Minister David Kolleh referred the FPA reporter to Deputy Minister Eugene Fanhgon, who said he could not speak officially on the matter. He promised to get details from the Minister of Public Works before responding. He however remained tight-lipped up to press time.
Meanwhile, some residents hailed the significance of the project, but suggest that government draws a compensation plan.
“We are happy, and we welcome the government initiative to develop that island, but we are calling on the government to start the compensation soon for those who will be affected by the construction of the bridge that will link the island,” Marie Zoubon, a resident of Slip Way told FPA.
Ma Marie, as she is called by many in the community, emphasized the need for the government to call community dwellers to a meeting and discuss the way forward.
“Meeting the community people and telling them where the project will start from and who are those that will be affected will help, it is necessary to avoid the normal Liberian protest for benefits,” she explained.
“It will bring pride to us when we look across the island and we see nice buildings and fine, fine structures.”
Youths of the community have expressed commitment to help the government disseminate information concerning the island project to community residents.
“We are preparing to go from house to house and place to place to inform our people about this island project,” says Peter Yancy, a youth of Crown Hill Community.
“We will love to see our country develop and we will not rest in spreading the good news about this project until we see it being done.”
While many residents are lauding the plan, some are convinced that development comes with issues that can be mitigated.
“We all know that development comes with pains but those who are expected to be affected by the project need to be well taken care of and compensated before the commencement of the project because we don’t want noise between government and the people for the issue of relocation,” Siah Momo said.
Currently, many see the island an abandoned land with some taking advantage by carrying out illegal activities including burying the dead and hunting.
“Some people buried on that island which we all know, some people go there to hunt, but for me, I used to go there to play football and entertain myself. But with the construction of our new city over there, it will attract investors and even Liberians who have not come home for a long time to be proud of their country,” said Moses Yekepele, another resident of Crown Hill community.
While others are worried about their relocation, some residents claim that government is putting out a mere bluff. They claim government is unprepared to construct the bridge, so they have become constructing new homes.
“Our president is putting up bluff, when former President Samuel Doe came to power he came with that same plan for the Island but he couldn’t implement it for some reasons, who told you our current president able to build on that island,” Joseph Tamba, a resident of Slip Way said.
Another resident, Paul Morris of Crown Hill community, claims the President is only trying to distract the Liberian people with promises that cannot be implemented.