11 July 2012

Liberia: Showdown

The adage that ninety-nine days for thief, but one day for master, is slowly coming to grips with criminals bent on stealing, destroying and abusing public facilities as the Ministry of Public is ready to "move on" such unscrupulous individuals.

Unscrupulous people have cut the eclectic wires of the newly constructed Zolu Duma Bridge and stolen light bulbs, thus making pedestrians on the bridge vulnerable to criminals after nightfall.

Iron sheets covering manholes constructed on streets and bridges in Monrovia and its environs are being stolen by unscrupulous people thereby reducing the lifespan of facilities and making the bridges and streets hazardous for vehicles and pedestrians.

Public Works Minister Kofi Woods made the revelation to this paper in an exclusive interview Tuesday, and complained that dishonest people having no regard for zoning laws build structures in alleys, thus causing flooding in many parts of Monrovia and its suburbs.

"The greatest threat to development is ourselves...Liberians, who are harming the country. People steal electric wires from poles. We just completed the Zolu Duma Bridge and half of the wires there are gone," Minister Woods lamented.

"People who violate this will be taken to the law. Our zoning people are in the field now to look at the wetlands to identify people who encroach on wetlands," he warned.

He cited how people dump garbage and firth in drainages and steal manhole covers. People cannot clean the vegetation now growing in the drainages, where they also dump garbage with disregard for sanitation.

"We have global warming and increased rainfall in Liberia than many other countries, therefore we have to change our attitudes; there has to be a mental revolution in Liberia when it concerns public infrastructure. "There is a lot of abuse and theft of our infrastructure; we need to address that through national programs with communities," he said.

He warned against the construction of structures on wetlands that seriously affect public infrastructure, and said the government is currently on the move to identify those structures and drastically deal with their cases through the law.

"If it means we clear the water channels, we will do so. There will be no compromise on that. We will have to do it to address the situation, "Minister Woods stressed."

Meanwhile, the minister admitted that some of the roads constructed by Public Works have problems, providing a lesson for them. "We learnt from the lesson and are now beginning to address them. We did not have the resources to deal with sewage and drainages, for example. But we were able to take measures," he added.

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