Heritage (Monrovia)

Liberia: Executive Mansion in 'Terrible Condition' - Gongloe Raises Alarms

A prominent Liberian Human Rights Lawyer, Counselor Tiawon Gongloe, has termed as 'terrible' the current physical condition of the Executive Mansion on Capitol Hill in Monrovia.

The Executive Mansion is the official seat of the Liberian presidency.

It was constructed in 1964 under the regime of the late Liberian President William Vacanarat Shadrach Tubman by 2,000 workers, including about a fifth of Monrovia's labor force, and 150 foreign technicians.

The eight-storey Executive Mansion building, which costs US$20 million, has an atomic-bomb shelter, an underground swimming pool, a private chapel, a trophy room, a cinema, an emergency power plant, water supply and sewage system, among others.

But the Executive Mansion was gutted by fire during Liberia's 159th Independence Day celebration on July 26, 2006. The fire gutted the nation's highest building in the presence of three West African leaders, at a time when then newly elected President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf switched on electricity to reach limited parts of the capital city.

At the time, the cause of the fire at the Executive Mansion, according to South African forensic scientists, was electrical fault.

Following the fire outbreak at the Executive Mansion, the Government of Liberia announced a closure of the Mansion, and President Johnson-Sirleaf relocated to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where she has been performing official state functions for a little over six years now.

According to Cllr. Gongloe, the present state of the "number one public building in the country is deplorable" and as such, the Executive Mansion must be given a "facelift."

He made these assertions recently in an interview with reporters on the grounds of the Temple of Justice in Monrovia.

He said President Johnson Sirleaf and the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs must take the blame for the 'terrible condition' of the Mansion.

Dr. Edward McClain is the current Minister for State and Presidential Affairs. He said the structurally appearance of the Executive Mansion as appalling as compare to other public buildings including the Temple of Justice and the Capitol Building.

The Capitol Building is the seat of the National Legislature.

According to Cllr. Gongloe, the Presidency does not have any 'acceptable excuse' to defend the "terrible" state of the Mansion.

"The Executive Mansion is presently in a terrible condition. If you look at the Judiciary building; former Chief Justice Johnnie Lewis and his colleagues did very well to give it a facelift; it looks decent and it symbolizes what needs to happen here. The Capitol Building is also well done. I don't think the Executive Mansion has any acceptable excuse now for the mansion being like that.

He added: "The President and the Ministers of State and Finance cannot really give convincing excuse while the Executive Mansion has not been rehabilitated and is terrible.

The young children born today and are going to school; learning the branches of government; pass in taxis; walk on their feet and pass before the Executive Mansion everyday will find it difficult to believe that this is the number one building in the country where the president sits. Whether the President is there or not, it should not be treated that way."

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