An estimated 100,000 people, including hawkers, residents and other peddlers, occupying areas where road construction works are about to begin, risk loosing their properties to bulldozers if they do not heed the government's call to vacate without delay.
"We want to inform all those who are occupying the right-of-way to begin leaving those places as the government will soon start road construction works this coming dry season," Information Minister Lewis G. Brown, announced yesterday at the Ministry of Information regular press briefing, promising that government would compensate those with legitimate claims. Several road construction works are expected to take place this dry season in different locations across the country, including the Somalia Drive-Paynesville road, Paynesville Kakata-Gbarnga Highway, as well as the ELWA-Roberts Field Highway. The government Thursday issued a warning calling on encroachers to immediately vacate those areas as work would soon begin. Thousands of illegal structures have already been built in areas the Government wants to carry out its road expansion exercise to improve its transportation infrastructure. But illegal construction of business and residential centers, especially along the Somalia Drive runway, as well as other highways earmarked for road construction projects has hampered such endeavors. Though not independently verified, it is estimated that over 100,000 people might be affected when the road expansion work starts in those areas. Hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of properties are also expected to be demolished in the process. Minister Brown gave no categorical answer regarding those who are unlawfully occupying the-right-of-way. However, he said the government would access their claims and provide a just compensation for those who will submit legitimate claims to the land areas that the road construction work might tamper with. Brown mentioned Government's Relocation Action Plan (RAP) as an established scheme through which such issues would be properly addressed. He named the lowering of transportation fare, increase in farm products, improved movement ability of goods and services, improved economy as some of the immediate economic benefits associated with the road construction exercise. "For those who have legal documents, when the project starts, government's Relocation Action Plan is going to take care of that. Once you can prove that you're the legitimate owner of the area in which the road construction work is passing thru, we will do the necessary assessment and the just compensation for your property will be provided," Minister Brown assured the public. According to him, the government has already started compensating people on the Freeport-Somalia Drive-Red Light road, but warned illegal occupants to vacate the area. "The Government is very serious. We want to see people leaving the right-of-way," Minister Brown warned.