6 February 2013

Liberia: Ellen Hints Monrovia's Relocation to Zekepa

The Government of Liberia (GoL) had decided to commence the process that could lead, eventually, to relocating Liberia's Capital City, Monrovia to Zekepa, where the boundaries of Grand Bassa, Bong and Nimba converge, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has disclosed.

Monrovia lies geographically within Montserrado County. Monrovia is the cultural, political and financial hub for the entire country. Founded in 1822, Monrovia is named in honor of U.S. President James Monroe, a prominent supporter of the colonization of Liberia. Monrovia was founded thirty years after Freetown, Sierra Leone, the first permanent Black American settlement in Africa.

According to President Johnson-Sirleaf, this is in response to the expected effects on population growth, climate change and the expectation that rising sea levels will threaten coastal cities, including Monrovia, in the decades to come.

Said the President: "Two years on, we have commenced the research and planning that will enable us to make the decision as to how to proceed with the Zekepa project. A small Task Force has been set up and charged with conducting the research, technical analysis, master planning and design that will be essential to the comprehensive development plan for the proposed city of Zekepa. This is not a quick project. This is a long term project."

She added that the task force will spend the next six months in the primary stage of research, after which she will consult with the Legislature regarding a greater national involvement and the way forward in achieving this objective.

She made the disclosure recently when she delivered her annual message to the second session of the 53rd Legislature at the Capitol Building-the seat of the Legislature.

The Liberian leader, who spoke on wide range of national and international issues, also told the nation that her government's commitment to freedom of the press and free expression, as well as the civil and political rights of all of our people will remain unshaken.

Listen to the President: "Yet, as a people, we should recognize that the exercise of freedom carries with it both a responsibility and a duty: to preserve and secure our national peace and security and stability; and respect the freedom, rights, and privacy of our fellow citizens. Our Constitution is clear and unequivocal on this. I will therefore be submitting to you, for your timely consideration, draft legislation consistent with the Table Mountain Declaration, which affirms our commitment to support press freedom."

The President indicated that it is also time for transformation of the Liberian media.

"We will all agree that improvement is required in the manner in which we inform and communicate our progress and challenges to the people. As a result of this inadequacy, perceptions are formed on the basis of misinformation, rumors and, many times, false accusations," she stated.

However, she said the government continues to partner with the media - print and voice - encouraging respect for their independence and freedoms to join the forces for positive change.

"Sometimes it works, but most times it does not, because the media lacks training and financial support. We take the position that government should help the media to enhance their professionalism without prejudice to the important role which they play in exposing and challenging wrongs in government and the society at large," President Johnson-Sirleaf asserted.

Against this backdrop, President Johnson-Sirleaf suggested that the government takes responsibility to construct and equip a media house that will provide the facility to access worldwide information and to have them benefit from distance learning.

"The structure could be built on the site of the demolished Government Hospital on Ashmun Street, where the new National Library will be built. With your concurrence, budgetary allocation for the construction will be included in the next fiscal year budget," she among other things added.

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