Much Ado About The RedLight Fix


Development comes with sacrifice: critics against rehabilitation of populated district need to take a chill pill and government must communicate better

THE SIRLEAF-LED government has taken its share of criticisms from many across Liberia and the Diaspora. On numerous occasions we have taken the administration to task for various levels of ill-advised decisions which we feel have been detrimental to the government and people of Liberia.

THE RECENT decision to transform the Paynesville Red Light District on the outskirts of the capital, Monrovia is however the one we wholeheartedly welcome with open arms.

THE RED LIGHT DISTRICT is located in the Paynesville suburb east of Monrovia

THE AREA has for some time now gained notoriety as one of the busiest shopping districts but one eclipsed by a wave of high-crimes and misdemeanour and a haven for congested traffic, filth and decay.

LAST WEEK, residents woke up to see stores closed as bulldozers and tractors cleared the main street in the busy Red Light market to make room for ongoing road construction work.

WHILE MANY ARE EMBRACING the transformation, residents and marketers alike are complaining that they weren’t given enough time and were in fact caught off guard by the exercise. “To wake up in the morning and you cannot do your business is confusing, if government wants to build the road we are not against it but we should be inform about it,” Marie Kollie, a marketer told FrontPageAfrica last week.

ON THE CONTRARY, Jani Jallah, Head of Communications at the Paynesville City Council countered: “We were informed by the Ministry of Public works, one of the things they stressed is that they wanted to finish the road in one week due to the rain, we had meeting with marketer heads and the transport sector about the plan and we all agreed.” Jallah continued: “This is development. It is more beneficial to the businesses and the citizens, we are appreciative of the business, and we are hoping that it finishes before the weekend.”

WE SUPPORT ANY project or initiative that will improve the lives of Liberians and a city still recovering from aftermath of a brutal civil war.

ACROSS THE West African sub-region, Liberia’s neighbours are progressing at a faster pace. Although some of them experienced conflict and civil unrest, they have managed to bring development, improve infrastructure and transform communities to make life better for their citizens.

LIBERIA REMAINS A STEP behind because much of the effort to transform has been delayed by corruption and the snail pace of some government officials in pushing the administration’s agenda.

THE RED LIGHT transformation is only a figment of a larger development project. The Liberian Government and the World Bank signed an agreement totalling an estimated US$249 million for the rehabilitation of the approximately 249-kilometer Monrovia (Red Light)-Gbarnga-Ganta-Guinea border road. This Liberia Road Asset Management Project (LIBRAMP) also provides for the maintenance of the road over a 10-year period.

THE OBJECTIVE of the project is to support Liberia’s efforts to reduce transport costs and travel time along the road corridor from Monrovia to the Guinea border and to maintain the road in good condition over a 10-year period.

THE TOTAL ESTIMATED project cost is US$249 million, of which about US$176 million is being provided from International Development Association -IDA (approx. US$68 million) through its credit to Liberia, and approximately US$109 million grant from the multi-donor Liberia Reconstruction Trust Fund (LRTF) administered by the World Bank.

TODAY, THE RED LIGHT DISTRICT has become one of the most dreaded areas for shoppers as marketers have turned the area into a pool of congestion that has made it nearly impossible for motorists to move freely and shoppers to shop without fear of being robbed.

IN NEIGHBORING Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and Guinea, rapid transformations are in play. Liberia on the other hand, does not have a decent airport that its citizens can be proud of.

THIS IS WHY IT IS IMPORTANT that all Liberians rally behind the transformation of existing dilapidating areas so that Liberia can embark on its own road to infrastructure recovery in the norm and fashion as that Ghana did during the eras of former Presidents Kwame Nkrumah and Jerry John Rawlings which saw state-led approaches that used the instruments and power of the state to engineer socio-economic transformation and market-led approaches to social and economic transformation in a way that dismantled public enterprises and social provisioning established under Nkrumah.

IN NEXT DOOR Sierra Leone, road constructions are pressing ahead while Ivory Coast which endured a major civil unrest continues to make strides.

LIBERIA CANNOT AFFORD to be left behind. As Africa’s oldest republic, citizens deserve a chance to boast of something to be proud of. The revamp of the Red Light District and other ongoing reformation projects as well as the repair of the Mount Coffee Hydro plant will go a long way in cementing Liberia on a path to post-war reformation, transformation and development.

IT REQUIRES NOT just government but all citizens as a whole in working together to ensure that projects are carried out without glitches. In the final analysis, it is Liberia that stands to benefit the most and we must all support what is in the best interest of Liberia. The country always comes first, no matter what!