Monrovia – High concrete walls surrounding the Palm Grove Cemetery in Central Monrovia were on Thursday crushed by Mary Broh, head of a special Presidential Task Fforce to clean the city.
Report by Bettie K. Johnson-Mbayo/ [email protected]
“The fence will be rough iron fence. It will be no longer a concrete fence you can’t see through and it will be managed by MCC.
When you’re coming, you’ll pay; but that is an option – it doesn’t mean that it should happen because Mary Broh says s. This place has been desecrated for years; that’s why we are in it.” Madam Mary Broh- GSA Director
According to Madam Broh, her action is intended to pave way for the construction of a modern cemetery where the dead would be given the honor they deserve.
Broh told reporters during the demolition that the demolished fence would be replaced with rough iron gates, and that the cemetery would be restructured.
Palm Grove Cemetery has been a hideout for criminals and drug addicts in Central Monrovia. Graves and tombs in the cemetery have often been broken into by these criminals who take away valuables buried with the dead. Human remains are also targeted to serve odd purposes, including being used as pipe to take in drugs.
An attempt in 2015 to relocate the cemetery sparked heated public debate with many families whose relatives now lie perpetually in the cemetery vehemently opposing the plan.
According to Broh, the facelift of the cemetery is a project of the Monrovia City Corporation, but she is taking over as per a special mandate from President President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
She said the construction would be done in phases, ranging from breaking the fence, cleaning the premises and calling on family members to possess their deceased tombs after, which would be done to modernize the cemetery.
She said the possession of the tomb would be done within three to four months but it would be optional.
Broh said the completed project could be compared to the Vietnam Memorial in the United States of America.
Broh: “The fence will be rough iron fence it will be no longer a fence you can’t see through and it will be managed by MCC.
When you coming [to visit the grave of your relative or loved one] you will pay; but that is an option, it doesn’t mean that it should happen because Mary Broh says so. This place has been desecrated for years.
“This Palm Groove cemetery has been here since the 1930’s or 40’s. On Decoration Day you have lot of criminals in here, drug addicts desecrated the graves, taking the bodies out of the caskets, boiling the bones for formaldehyde to sniff; this is not nice it doesn’t go well for the society, we are coming in to drive the process.”
She disclosed that the new construction was supported by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Transport, and Ministry of Labor, among others.
The project, according to Broh, would be completed by July 26, 2017.
Broh also stated that when the fence of the cemetery was initially constructed, she expected security guards responsible for manning the cemetery to protect the site, but that, according to her did not happen.
Palm Grove Cemetery is a cemetery near downtown Monrovia. During the Tolbert administration, the cemetery became the focus of the national Decoration Day, which continued to be observed after Tolbert was murdered in a 1980 coup d’état and his body dumped into a mass grave with officials of his government in the cemetery.
Once the country’s national cemetery, it was threatened in June 1982 by Monrovia municipal authorities.
In a complaint to the People’s Redemption Council, the city noted that the cemetery was being used as a waste dump and was so full of graves that new burials were being conducted unsafely, even though increasing numbers of local residents were being buried in Paynesville.
The authorities requested permission to close the cemetery to new burials and to move the cemetery to a new location, away from its original Center Street site, but the cemetery remains in Monrovia to date.