The Inquirer (Monrovia)

6 March 2013

Liberia: Burned Buildings Affecting Harper's Beauty

Harper City, the official seat of Maryland County believed to be one of the best laid out cities in Liberia, with well architecturally designed buildings is facing the challenge of many dilapidated buildings, which are affecting the beauty of the city. As one would term it 'the scars of war' the city, its beauty still stands but the old buildings are many. These buildings include private homes, historic sculptures, post office, and government buildings.

Among prominent names of people who own most of these buildings are the Tubmans and Andersons. It was gathered by our reporter that the Andersons, descendants of former Maryland County Senator James Anderson owned 12 structures of these dilapidated buildings, while the Tubmans of former President William V.S. Tubman owned about 15 of these structures. Most of the buildings involved were affected by fire during the Liberian civil war.

An official of the county who spoke to this paper said the situation was one of the challenges facing the county. The official said many efforts have been made to have these owners renovate or refurbish their structures, but to no avail.

"This is an embarrassment to this county; these dilapidated structures or buildings are affecting the beauty of this historic city," the official said. The official went further to say that the county finds itself in a dilemma because the "big names" are not cooperating, and it is difficult to act on the "small names."

Addressing herself to the issue, the city mayor of Harper, Madam Regina W. Sampson, who was approached on the issue, said the people owning old private homes have refused to adhere to calls whenever they are asked to paint their old structures.

The city mayor said these people claimed they are not working and therefore have no money to undertake such project of paining or refurbishing their buildings.

Our reporter, who recently embarked on this assignment, discovered that the home of former President Tubman, Liberia's longest President thus far, has now turned to a ghetto, with all kinds of individuals residing in there.

The city mayor also expressed unhappiness of the activities taking place in the home of the former president. However the mayor could not say who put in those occupants, some of whom are said to be notorious drug dealers.

Regarding historic structures in the city, which are good for tourist attractions, the mayor said there is no money, adding, "The city government does not have enough funds to give those structures facelift."

She said at one point she mandated the county inspector to take legal action against individuals who fail to clean their structures. She indicated that that was done, but the situation is yet to receive the desired results.

Meanwhile, our reporter gathered that the issue of "no money" cannot hold in this situation because there are buildings from which these families are receiving rent and such could be used to carry out renovations.

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