9 January 2013

Liberia: 10,000 Squatters Face Eviction

Yearning for greater say in matters relating to their welfare, Liberian youths Wednesday urged their leaders to practice transparency and accountability. The head of the Federation of Liberian Youths, Mohammed Nasser, told journalists at a

More than 10,000 residents of the "Battlefield" community in West Point Township have been

ordered to relocate between now and Friday, January 11 as government prepares to demolish the settlement.

But Acting City Mayor Mary Broh said the exercise is not to demolish West Point as reported recently, causing jitters amongst residents of the populous Battlefield community.

"Those who said West Point will be demolished are pathological liars. I say so," Ms. Broh told this paper yesterday in an exclusive interview.

She added: "Those who are saying so do just want to cause confusion and trouble amongst our people. They are troublemakers and bent on making confusion and they should stop that."

Contacted, Public Works Minister Samuel Kofi Woods said, "I am not aware about West Point being demolished. But if this is so, it will not be (done) under my watch." He failed to mention Battlefield community.

But speaking to this paper in an angry mood yesterday, spokesman She D. Phillips of the Battlefield community told New Democrat that a group of five persons claiming to be officials of the Ministry of Public Works issued them (occupants) a notice warning residents to vacate ahead of the planned demolition exercise.

"We will resist any demolition of our homes to death," Mr. Phillips said, adding: "We're going to resist this because before government takes on this kind of venture we must be informed months ahead so that we can have the time to prepare. The war has sent everybody years behind. We're a struggling people looking for our daily needs. How can this happen when in fact, we're still trying to put our broken pieces together."

Contacted Tuesday, the Director of Communications at the Public Works Ministry, Jesefu M. Keita confirmed the demolition notice issued occupants of the Battlefield community on 7 November 2012.

Mr. Keita insisted to New Democrat that the demolition would take place as planned without condoning any obstruction.

"Yes, I can confirm to you that the demolition notice given these people came from the National Zoning Council," Mr. Keita told New Democrat Tuesday.

"These people had been told to leave this area since last year. On 7 November 2012, they were issued a demolition notice to free the area because they're squatting on government land and also blocking the Right of Way."

Battlefield is one of several communities, which form part of the Township of West Point, with a large commercial settlement the mainstay of whose occupants are fishing and trading activities.

Until recently, government has always attempted to demolish the settlement for fear of a crippling disease outbreak, given the clustered nature of shacks in the area, as well as preventing potential environmental disasters, such as flood, sea erosion, amongst others; but such efforts have so far proven futile, with over 60,000 dwellers the township's citizens vowing they would not leave because they have no other place to go.

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