Liberia: Residents of Floods Prone Communities Threaten to Move in Public Buildings, Homes of Govt. Officials
MONROVIA – Victims of sea erosion and flood in the Borough of New Kru Town on the Bushrod Island, outside Monrovia are threatening to besiege the homes of government officials and perpetually occupy public facilities in the area if concrete actions are not taken by the relevant authorities of the Government of Liberia (GOL) to curtail the situation.
The victims observed that for several decades now, past and current governments have miserably failed to ensure that they too live decent lives as compared to them (government officials) and their respective children who are residing in fabulous and conducive homes in and out of Liberia.
They observed that the combat against floods, which have claimed and continue to claim the lives of citizens and destroyed properties worth millions of United States dollars in Monrovia and other parts adjacent, remains an aged-old problem in the oldest African republic, but no sustainable solutions have been found by any administration to curtail or eradicate the situation they continue to experience every year.
According to them, past and current governments have only been able to carry out “cosmetic and partial interventions” to win their votes during electioneering periods and neglect them to suffer from their respective family members in the cold after they are elected.
They vowed not to hesitate to take their belongings to occupy public facilities, including town halls, and sub-offices of a few government ministries and agencies in their respective communities if prompt actions are not taken by the government to guarantee their safety and well-being.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with FrontPageAfrica on Tuesday, May 24, the Chairman of the 26 communities in the Borough of New Kru Town, Philipboye Merchant blamed consistent flooding in various communities in the Borough on the alleged failure of the government, through the Ministry of Public Works and the Environment Protection Agency to implement the zoning laws of the country.
He observed that both the Ministry and the EPA have not done enough to ensure that construction works are not carried out on alleyways.
He added that though ‘STOP” notices are placed on some constructions being carried out by foreign nationals including, Fulani, Lebanese and financial potent Liberian entrepreneurs, these notices are surreptitiously taken down despite the concerns and complaints proffered by the locals in the area.
“We suffered from flooding every year and this started since the civil crisis when people started to man sand and build on drainages. People also threw dirt in those drainages. As the Chairperson of the 26 communities in the Borough and also the Chairman of Whea Town, we need EPA and the government, in particular, to come in so we can stop the illegal mining”.
“Water will either carry people every year or the properties will continue to damage. Year in, year out this thing happened and these people who were elected will come back again. We will go to the homes of government officials to stay there if nothing is done about the flood this year”.
Mr. Merchant believed that “bribes” allegedly offered some of these public officials to abandon their assigned tasks and responsibilities to please foreigners over their own citizens.
He questioned the speed and manner and form in which some of these constructions are carried out by foreigners despite these notices from the government.
He said public officials involved in safeguarding wetlands and preventing the construction of stores, dwelling places, or others on alleyways should execute their tasks and responsibilities without fear or favor.
“Public Works will come and mark some buildings, but after two days, they will do it the Liberian way and the people will start to carry on the construction. This
Mr. Merchant recalled that a two-year-old minor died as a result of flood in the Whea Town community in the Borough.
Whea Town is one of the congested communities in St. Paul Bridge.
He said the incident could be repeated if concrete steps are not taken by the government and others to address the situation.
Mr. Merchant observed that most often, representative and senatorial candidates trooped into flooded communities in the district to make unrealistic promises.
Due to the population of the district, he noted that about 90% of those vying for public offices rely on the gullibility of the electorates to deceive them during electioneering periods.
“Some of them were elected because they lied to us. They can lie that they will help block the water and some of our voters have not been educated in the direction. 2023 is coming again and they will come again to lie”.
Mr. Merchant said disasters will continue to happen on a regular basis if government fails to find sustainable solutions to the consistent flooding within the communities.
He said a relocation plan and coastal defense project in some of these areas should be urgently considered.
Take Flood victims to estates
He recalled that during past administrations, housing estates were constructed to shelter flood victims in Monrovia and other parts adjacent.
Mr. Merchant named the Stephen Tolbert and Matadi Estates, among others, as some of the estates that were constructed for the intake of flood victims.
But currently, he observed that those who are financially potent and do not dwell around flooded communities are the ones being allegedly considered by the CDC led government to occupy newly constructed housing units across the country.
“People who are working and making money are giving estates over people who are not even making a dime. If you take these people from the flooded communities to the estates, they will forever remember that President”.
He frowned at the “drop in the ocean” contributions that are normally made by the government, through the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) during flood and other disasters in various communities.
“Those from the NDMA will gather the people in the town halls and give them one or two cups of rice while all of the belongings of these people are destroyed”.