Liberia: Monrovia City Corporation Hits Back at U.S. Ambassador; Says He Decontextualized Mayor’s Speech
MONROVIA – Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson Koijee has clarified that seeking international assistance from the United States does not mean that the government and people of Liberia are relinquishing their responsibilities.
“If the United States with all the supremacy, had answers to everything, their external debt portfolio would be at zero,” he said.
He said in spite of the size of the revenue envelope, the City Government has managed some of the toughest challenges through meager resources generated domestically.
Koijee spoke Wednesday, 16 March, a day after United States Ambassador to Liberia, Michael A. McCarthy, delivered a statement frowning at remarks he made at the Monrovia Day celebrations in which Koijee lamented the lack of donor or external partner in funding the recurrent cost of solid waste collection and disposal.
McCarthy’s said the mayor’s statement implies that he was abandoned by the international community, while wondering whether there was a “more basic local government responsibility than the collection and proper disposal of garbage?”
And Koijee said he was concerned that Ambassador McCarthy would decontextualize a portion of the Mayor’s report when a segment of his message was made with a full perspective of the trends and circumstance of waste management in Monrovia with a view to emphasize progress attained over the years and gaps realized.
Koijee said he was very emphatic in stressing the responsibility of the people of Liberia to keeping the city clean when he delivered the annual State of the City Message to the citizens as required by City Ordinance No. 4.
“Like previous years since I assumed the office of Mayor of Monrovia, getting the needed resources for effective Solid Waste Management within the City is still a huge confrontation,” he said.
“As we speak, no donor or external partner is funding the recurrent cost of solid waste collection and disposal. Our meagre internal revenues is very inadequate to fund this cost- intensive venture. The wrong mindset of a very large segment of our people has worsened the situation in that, they believe solid waste management within the City is a government’s business, and not theirs amid intensive awareness and sensitization to disabuse their minds.”
Koijee said before 2018 when took over as Mayor, the World Bank had spent over US$29.4M in total from Additional Financing (AF1, AF2 and AF3) through the Liberia Reconstruction Trust Fund (LRTF) for six years on the Emergency Monrovia Urban Sanitation (EMUS) Project with an annual contribution of US$4.9M to the solid waste management sector of the City.
Additionally, he added, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded primary waste (door to door) collection in the amount of US$1M for more than 5 years through the IMPAC Project with Cities Alliance as implementing partner plus subsidies from the Government of Liberia.
“This means that before I assume office, more than US$5.9M in total was spent on solid waste management every year up to end of the EMUS Project in 2016 and the IMPAC Project in 2015 plus subsidies from the Government of Liberia. Today, solid waste collection and disposal is squarely a burden for the City Government of Monrovia.’’
He added the City Government has designed means to mobilize domestic resources to sync with with the national government’s revenue strategy.
“This administration is resolved that it did not come to power to make excuses, but to solve problems whether inherited or not.”
“Rallying citizens’ support around waste management within our city is a national duty and should not be misconstrued as holding foreign partners responsible for cleaning our city.”
The City Government of Monrovia, Koijee added, welcomes constructive criticism and remains receptive to helpful recommendations from everyone, including global experts and professionals, on issues of municipal cooperation and development, especially sustainable integrated solid waste management as part of our firm commitment to inclusive local governance.
Koijee said the City Government remains highly focused in exploring solutions to efficient solid waste management and an implementable sustainability plan that abides by excellent environmental principles and innovation.
“This plan includes investing in the circular economy by utilizing waste as an industrial resource for long term investment, which intervention Mayor Koijee and his team are exploring. The City Government of Monrovia strongly believes this will substantially help to address the challenges of waste management in Monrovia but also create jobs for the young people, secure livelihoods for residents of the City, improve infrastructure and manage local resources more appropriately
as an integral part of shouldering our own duties and responsibilities.”