9 August 2018

Liberia: Koijee, What Is Your Strategy for the City of Monrovia?


The Daily Observer and other local dailies published a story quoting Monrovia City Mayor, Jefferson Koijee, declaring the overwhelming stockpiles of garbage and filth in Monrovia as a "national emergency that needs the collective efforts of all to fight."

He acknowledged the World Bank's and the Government's efforts in ensuring that the city is cleaned and kept clean. It is a project to which both parties committed US$17.5 million and US$4 million respectively.

Additionally, the Monrovia Mayor, who earlier this year declared his intention to work diligently under the auspices of the "Weah for Clean and Green City", said the President allotted 750,000 in the 2018/2019 national budget for the cleaning of Monrovia.

For all that Mayor Jefferson Koijee proposes to do to keep Monrovia clean and green, we are yet to know whether he has a well contrived plan of action and a clear strategy to actualize his dream to keep his Monrovia clean and green.

By definition, a strategy is an elaborate and systematic plan of action (English Dictionary) needed to identify shortcomings and progress, and to generate new ideas in implementing projects or any plan a person or an institution wants to carry out.

Strategic planning is therefore important in bringing vision and mission to reality, because it provides guidance on how to mobilize resources to meet the goals and objective of the plan.

Besides support from government and international partners including the World Bank, the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC) has other revenue streams such as; outdoor advertisements, city parking fees and city ordinance tax, amongst others, constitute those sources.

How is Mayor Koijee planning to use funds from these sources to enhance a clean and green city?

In his plea for collective efforts to keep the city clean, Mayor Koijee did not mention how residents and city authorities can collectively coordinate to meet this goal.

What will be the role of residents in the effort to clean Monrovia?

Monrovia, including the urbanized area in its vicinity has a land area measuring 75 square miles with a population of 1.4 million accounting for 29 percent of Liberia's total population of 4,614,000 people.

This easily makes Monrovia, the country's largest population center followed by Gbarnga with 45,895 persons. Monrovia also has a youthful population most of who are unemployed and unskilled.

With thousands of unemployed youths desperately seeking jobs, Monrovia's garbage problem could be significantly addressed if such a large pool of idle hands could be put to work cleaning up the city.

According to Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson Koijee, the City Corporation spends 116,000 US dollars weekly to clean the city, an amount which this newspaper cannot justify. Nevertheless, this newspaper is of the conviction that the huge pool of unskilled and unemployed labor could be hired and put to work since garbage cleaning and disposal is a labor intensive activity.

The Palm Grove Cemetery, the nation's oldest and only national cemetery, remains covered in overgrown weeds with cleaning done only once a year -- on Decoration Day.

Of the huge amount spent weekly on the clean-up of the city, hardly anything goes into the cleaning of the cemetery. For most of the year, it serves as a dumpsite, public toilet and, of course, a haven for drug addicts and criminals.

Keeping the Palm Grove Cemetery clean should be an everyday affair rather than the once a year clean-up on Decoration Day. And it can be done with the engagement of idle and unemployed youths. Such engagement could have a beneficent effect on the economy, as those engaged would earn disposable income which would invariably be spent on goods and services and thus stimulate the economy.

Aside from the Palm Grove Cemetery, Monrovia has a lot of unused and unproductive swamp lands which could be utilized to produce food, particularly rice, our national staple. These swamplands are instead used as garbage disposal sites. But time and time again the Daily Observer, in several editorials has highlighted the need to keep the city clean and observe sanitary rules to prevent health and environmental disaster.

This newspaper observes that many Liberians have developed a pattern of cultural behavior littering (randomly throwing dirt) in the streets without restriction.

It therefore behooves the Monrovia City Corporation to provide information, to the public, about the City Ordinance Laws for all to know how to handle and properly dispose of garbage.

How is Mayor Koijee planning to address this issue in his plan for a clean Monrovia? Stockpiles of garbage are found almost everywhere in Monrovia and its suburbs, thereby giving rise to potential health problems.

The call for collective efforts by all citizens and residents to address the garbage problem in Monrovia is indeed appropriate but until the people know their roles and responsibilities in the process, the call for concerted efforts remains vague and of little effect.

We, therefore, call on Mayor Koijee to explain his strategies to the public in order to enhance proper understanding of his declared objective to keep Monrovia clean and green.


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