12 May 2017

Liberia: 'Cash for Relocation'

Victims of the sea erosion in the Township of West Point have raised alarm over the slow pace of their relocation from the area. They accused those responsible for their relocation as being corrupt and wicked.

The residents alleged that they are asked to pay money before they are selected for relocation at the VOA housing units constructed by the Government of Liberia.

The Housing Units were built at VOA in Brewerville by the Government of Liberia with support from development partners to host over 6,805 persons, which include West Point erosion victims.

In an interview with this paper Thursday in West Point, 56-year-old Christian Jah, a father of seven kids, said not up to 400 hundred persons have been relocated because the Disaster Victims Association (DVA) are selecting people based on a "who know you" basis or by 'bribery'

He said victims are being asked to pay a sum of U$50.00 or U$100.00 before he/she can be relocated.

"It is not that people do not want to leave West Point but they are still here because of how the selection is done. So you might even notice that most of those benefiting from the relocation process are those who didn't own properties in West Point but rather they were either renters or those who could afford the money requested by DVA," Jah claimed.

Other victims interviewed noted that they want to be relocated because it is becoming dangerous as they are already in the rainy season.

For her part, Felecia Dargbeh, 45, mother of eight Children, who survives on the sale of cold water, said she has been in her friend's place for nearly a year since her home got destroyed by erosion.

"I am still awaiting relocation. I have not been relocated because I don't have money. This has been the major reason why many of us are still here because we don't know anyone within the system that's why our process is slow. And another raining season has come," she lamented.

She said community dwellers have not been able to report this act due to fear.Francis Wroto, 67, stressed that it still remains a shock to the community that there are different people occupying the VOA Units while the real erosion victims from West Point are languishing in the community.

He outlined that registration fee for relocation L800.00 and a weekly due of L$50.00, which is a compulsory payment for all erosion victims.

"The government built that place for us to stay there for free, but since our own community people who were selected to spearhead the whole thing are not helping us at all, we are calling on government to take action and make sure that everyone benefits from thehousing units," the West Point Elder said.

Meanwhile the Chairman of the Disaster Victims of Liberia, Demore W. Moore said allegations made by residents are false and misleading.

However, he admitted that a member of the Disaster Victim Association is required to pay U$5.00 for Identification Card.

"The L$50.00 is for weekly dues. One thing I want to make clear is that, we are giving units only to House owners, not renters and care takers," Moore stressed.

He said everybody cannot be relocated at the same time adding," We are dealing with the 245 persons, who met with the president earlier. She told us to take care of them and we also mentioned to her that they are not the only ones being affected in the Community."

Moore said once a person can prove that a property that was destroyed belongs to him/her, then that person will be relocated because according to him"our Rapid Response Team is responsible to investigate claims."

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