Monrovia — "The continuous occupation of people on the waterways in Monrovia and parts adjacent has been a serious contribution to the over flooding of the city and this may cause a huge disaster soon," the head of Liberia's Environment Protection Agency, Nathaniel Blamah has warned.
Report by Lisa Diasay
Mr. Blamah made the assertion recently when he appeared before the House of Representatives to give update on issues facing the country's environment sector.
Mr. Blama's appearance was triggered through a communication from District #4 representative Rustonlyn Dennis over the continuous flooding of Monrovia and other parts of the country.
According to Mr. Blama, Monrovia is far below sea level and there are numerous risks involving communities along the coastal areas, adding that the free flow of water has been hindered due to numerous constructions on waterways in the country.
He said Liberians adamant posture towards refraining from building on wetlands and other environmentally restricted places leaves the water no chance but to overflow and destroy properties.
Liberia is currently in its rainy season, over the past weeks there has been huge flooding of several communities and the blockage of main boulevards leading to the country's capital, Monrovia, thus impeding normal and economic activities, and rendering several persons homeless.
The situation, EPA boss believes, can be handled if massive awareness is carried out in order to save the country from further disaster; which he termed as an elastic situation that will cause the country more money and lives would be lost.
Mr. Blama also named the proper handling of waste in the country as another means of contributing to the huge flooding around the city.
Currently, there are 600 communities in Monrovia with two know transfer stations for waste disposals and less than 50 skit buckets for communities to dispose of their waste.
Whien Town is known as the biggest waste disposal area while other sites are being used to dispose the dirt from communities and the skits are the bigger drums placed along the sidewalks or in communities to help proper waste management.
Recently, the Monrovia City Corporation fined few individuals 50USD for improper waste management in parts of Monrovia and its environs as a means of a deterrent to would-be violators.
With this, Mr. Blama said, "these interventions are good but not enough because what can 50 skits do to 600 communities across Monrovia and as a result people throw their dirt in the drainages which stop the water from flowing properly."
However, he also attributed the massive flooding along the Roberts International Airport highway to sand mining by community members, which he said undermines the waterway thus exposing the community to environmental issues.
He disclosed that the EPA had no prior input during the construction of the RIA road as a way to draw out measures that would be impactful to the environment in relation to the road construction. "We are now asking the Ministry of Public Works to lift a stretch on that road where there has been huge flood and place in culverts to a deep portion during the dry season so it can help our people".
In furtherance, Mr. Blama stressed that community members should desist from undermining their community and waterfront through mining sand and ensure a robust monitoring of the waterfront for an improved environment.
He craved the indulgence of members of the house of representatives to ensure funding for securing Liberia from future disaster as he mentions the impact of climate change globally poses a threat to the environment and the country.
The budget of the Environmental Protection Agency was slice 45% during the 2018/2019 budget due to the allocation of funds to top government priorities which include education, health, agriculture and human resource development.
From 2.6 million to 1.5 million USD, the EPA boss alarmed that his entity budget is inadequate to address the short and long terms environmental needs of the country, as such it is important to prioritize the environment through stronger budgetary allocation which will help respond to the environmental crisis. "We recruited monitors to help within safeguard the environment most of whom are masters' degree holder in Environmental Science and so on but there is no money now to employ them and some of our staff are even leaving the entity due to what they term as smaller wages for services," he stated
He cautioned the government to pay more attention to the sector as it is pivotal to national development, "people have not paid much attention to the environment-maybe in the case of a huge disaster and the government is made to spend millions that could help draw the attention," he noted.
"We are out there looking for support and equipment to help safeguard our environment but the government has a major role to play in helping communities that are vulnerable and threaten by coastal erosion". EPA Boss pointed out.