15 November 2012

Liberia: The Performance Scale - Public Works Kofi Woods Under the Spotlight


Harry Truman threw out a philosophical 'monkey range': "If you don't like heat, stay out of the kitchen". Quite a bit of a note of caution to politicians though. Comrade Woods holds a public office that demands a lot. Surely, he carries a lot on his shoulders as it were. The vast majority of our people want to travel throughout the length and breadth of our country but can only do so based on accessibility.

Magically, Woods cannot become God as it were to order: "Let there be paved roads" and our country would become inundated like another paradise. Woods and his team at Public Works can plan, get the drawings ready, reviewed and analyzed. They can decide on the various specifications about moving movement in diverse positions. What a cheap reflection of our physics lessons.

My you, if the Ministry of Finance cannot approve the vouchers to safe the thousands of car owners from the unnecessary wear and tear, nothing gets done. Wasn't the Finance Minister part of the campaign team assuring the people of Liberia about government's readiness to deliver as promised?

The business of government is thrust on team work and commitment to fulfill those promises that inspired and cajoled the electorate to give a second mandate. Those who enjoy the public trust deserve to contribute even more selflessly. Is that the case? Go and ask the electorates. Too many civil, architecture and infrastructure engineering commitments will overwhelm the plate of comrade Woods.

Of course there should be no need to panic after all. Minister Woods only panicked when he was forced to run for his life as an outspoken voice during hay days of Taylor's tyranny. Hey, there is time for everything! There is time to run and time to return in readiness for the real task at hand.

Technically speaking, there is an entire generation in this country who have not had the opportunity to witness major road construction by some kind of professional Construction Firm. Similarly, this country has not had any major rehabilitation of its aging road networks. In 21st century Liberia, the first major overlay of roads started with the Robertsfield highway and 1st Street to ELWA Junction.

The roads in the capital were a complete nightmare prior to the coming of this administration. Pot-holes cum semi-ditches were seen on all streets in Central Monrovia untouched for years. Taylor said he had a war on his hands to prosecute and so - he was not God to say let there be light. He encouraged the population to get mini generator sets to provide electricity. Could he have been a shareholder?

He had soon forgotten that he ordered his rag-tagged soldiers to plunge Monrovia into darkness. His mind had gone blank about the skyscrapers he promised - that there would be buses to take public school pupils to school - that the computer age would come alive in Liberia. Just as he is on record as saying the only good Doe would be a dead Doe; interestingly, the only good Taylor in this country at the time was just another "Desperado".

Folks, Charles Taylor is no longer our problem - the Governor General of West Africa who never was. Yes, he branded his critics as "cockroaches and rats" but the rats and cockroaches are now residing in mansions while he is reeling from the madness of bravado that has caused him dearly.

All eyes will be on comrade Kofi Woods given the terrible experiences on our major highways, community and neighborhood routes. Can he solve all our problems? It will be unthinkable! He has given us reason to believe that some roads have been prioritized. Surely, there will be a lot of murmurings going on there and about. Some of the population might not be smiling because they are not being covered. It is a matter of time; just a little bit of patience though.

The government has about five more years to serve this country. Kofi Woods as a former NGO person will always focus on setting objectives and meeting targets as well as timelines. We cannot continue the endlessly talk about Police Academy Road - not out of personal ego but because when our government and national leaders make promises - we expect them to keep them.

Our friends in the donor community continue to give generously to the National Police Training Academy and we invite them from far and war to participate in numerous graduation programs. Can we do a little better by rubbing our chests as our foreign friends do likewise with our backs?

The Chinese are on the Buchanan leg and soon and very soon there will be formal program commissioning the Cotton Tree - Buchanan Road. We expect to see economic life back on its feet along that belt of our country. Easy access to various districts in Grand Bassa would be attainable. Cico, another Chinese company will be on the move from Red light to Gbarnga enclave.

The African Development wants to see the Fish Town - Harper road paved. Not mere words since the funding totaling $50 million was approved during the last visit of a high-powered delegation of the Bank led by its President visited Liberia. Commitment from the Japanese would change the face of Somalia Drive once the final 'Ts' crossing and 'I's dotting are finalized. Funding is being sought for the Ganta to Fish town road as well.

We want to remind comrade Woods that whether he likes it or not - there will always be critics in the wild but we think he needs to be focused. There is bound to be the usual blame game - but we need to learn so much from Harry Truman folks. Certainly, it is not clear to what extent Harry Truman himself was able to withstand the political heat. Liberians have been assured that several road rehabilitation works will take place. Any doubts?

Already, signs have begun to show. Engineers and technicians from S.S.F. are seen mainly during nighttime carrying our patching and overlay in some parts of Monrovia. Minister Woods said and the government has backed him that the dry season would bring truth to his expressed determination to hit the roads. Mind you, comrade Woods care less whether we say well done or criticize him when we disagree but in the spirit of advancing the case about how we can develop this country - the debate will go on and go folks.

On the question of A.B. Tolbert Road as well as the Samuel Kanyon Doe Boulevard, we have been assured things will get better. Although the smiles could be half way, what is worth-mentioning is that the people are beginning to see their government deliver - at least devoid of magic formula. Anyone who expects miracle now, is at liberty to hasten his journey to heaven. Hmm! Resident of Du-Port Road are bracing themselves for something good that is about to happen. Good, like Tubman who promised our people roads and built them; Ma Ellen has joined the list of keeping the promise.

We talked so much about roads - fussed about delays to deliver on a wide-range of national development agenda; but we are anxiously awaiting the big news about the restoration of the Mount Coffee Hydro Dam. Energy is crucial to our survival socially, economically and developmentally. The industries we dream to see up and running need energy. The concessionaires, private sector consider the engine of growth and job-creation and the population cannot afford the cost-intensive patronage associated with running generators. Energy breeds security and this is all the reason why we want to see action and not the long speech Myers and team presented at the Ministry of Information a few weeks.

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