27 October 2007

Liberia: No Excuse, No Exception! - Police Warn Robertsfield Highway Residents, Demolition Exercise Begins Saturday

Going all out to prove the point that this government is development oriented during the second year of its incumbency, the Unity Party led administration of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has embarked on a massive infrastructural campaign that initially targets the wretched road network.

To begin with, the main highway connecting the capital with the lone jet-landing airport is earmarked for huge overhaul. Striking the chord of seriousness, the government has ordered all roadside dwellers to buckle up and make space for the critical workload.

Law enforcement officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) have repeated the caveat to the concerned citizens, reminding all that there will be no excuse, no exception in the enforcement of this order, J. Nathaniel Daygbor of The Analyst reports.

Reports reaching The Analyst say the Liberian government has begun the road reconstruction project on the Robertsfield highway, one of several roads whose rehabilitation has long been the subject of discussion by the government.

According to the reports, government has garnered financial or in-kind supports from such multilateral institutions like the World Bank and other international organizations.

The government has however warned residents to relocate from dwellings in the passage of the new road. To buttress the warning, the Police have begun marking houses and warning residents to begin vacating.

The Police are also informing them that the demolition of structures concerned will start on Saturday, October 27, 2007 during the early morning hours.

It is reported that the demolition exercise will begin at 8:30 AM this Saturday beginning with buildings in the locus of the pathway from the ELWA junction to the Roberts International Airport in Margibi County.

Many Police officers who informed the roadside dwellers repeated from house to house that the demolition is a result of the planned expansion of the highway that connects the Capital, Monrovia to the main commercial airport of the country.

The news of the demolition has for sometimes been the subject of discussion in various forums. During such discussions, the warning has mostly been taken as a big bluff as some with a perfect touch of Liberian history know that not all flash of rainy cloud ends up in thunder.

The government prophecy for expansion of the roads so that they are in tune with international standards appears to most occupants of the area as the same "Liberian thing," by which is meant that government says a thing but does not implement them.

Recently, the Chinese government pledged to construct the road network, for which a two year contract is to be signed. This road network contract though as useful as it is, will render thousands of roadside dwellers homeless.

Delivering government order to the wayside dwellers, a Police officer yesterday used a clanking public address system as he went from house to house announcing that the government will begin the breaking of houses on Saturday, October 27, 2007 at about 8:30 AM.

He told them that government has no intention of breaking the homes of peaceful citizens but the development of the country remains a major concern of the Unity Party government.

The officer well dressed in his government assigned blue uniform told this paper that the exercise will boost the image of the country internationally if the road leading to the nation's only airport is broadened to meet international standard.

The officer who refused to call his name to The Analyst, noted that he is not the official spokesman of government, noting that the Chinese company that will undertake the construction project, will commence their job in November but the dragging of the breaking down of the houses was the main factor to delaying the exercise along with the raining season.

But the decision by government has put the occupants of the RIA Highway areas in serious problems, including the destructions of their properties, valued at several thousands of US dollars.

Besides looking for places to relocate families, and finding new schools for their children.

Speaking to the Analyst following the announcement, a resident of King Gray Town, Gabriel W. Weah said that the decision of the government to break down their hard labor earn buildings with out any compensation is clear indications of the government's bad local policy toward its citizens.

"We are not saying that the government should not build our road, after all we all need better road, but at least government should provide some form of assistance that will help us get back on our feet after we've lost all", he said in tears.

Mr. Weah, who claimed that he has over seven persons living in his house including his children, said his house was constructed just after the 1996 war between late warlord Roosevelt Johnson and former President Charles Taylor, lamented that he spent over US$ 8,000. "My house got over six bed rooms, two bath room and so on".

Information Minister Dr. Laurence Bropleh however told a news conference before his departure for the United States, that government has no money to compensate anyone who violates the zoning laws of the state, "compensation is an option, we don't have resources for that", he said.

But the principal of the junior high school called the Fanawe Elementary& Junior High, Ebenezer Stewart said that the decision of the government is hard for the residents of the area.

He however reasoned that development always comes with hard feeling, adding, now is time but the government should at least allot some assistance for the people so that they can start their lives again.

The long awaited reconstruction of the Robertsfield Highway is set to begin on Saturday and the government has already announced that the two-lane highway will be expanded to more lanes.

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