By Bill W. Cooper
Several cities in Liberia are currently facing significant challenges, as city mayors have abandoned their duties to actively campaign for President George Weah’s reelection across the country.
This decision has left Liberia stink and dirty thereby plunging citizens and residents in to serious ‘hold your nose and pass’ dramas; leaving the country in a state of neglect and out of city ordinance as well as causing serious health hazards.
Our reporter, touring various parts of Montserrado alone, starting with Monrovia, noticed that the capital of Liberia is one of the dirtiest cities in the country under the watch of Coalition of Democratic Change’s Secretary General, Jefferson Koijee, being the Mayor.
The unpleasant smell of the city, as inhaled by our reporter, is also a direct threat to a healthy environment, leaving residents and foreign partners alike to live in such an unhealthy city/environment.
According to our reporter, there are also over spilled and burst culverts that are draining feces and other messes in the city, while there are also stockpiles of dirt in bags and cartons, with some even swept by the wayside on major street corners amidst the huge political CDC billboards.
Some of the streets engulfed with a huge stockpile of garbage include Gurley Street; Mechlin and Water Streets, as well as the major Broad Street, the Clara Town Rice Store, Caldwell Junction, and Duala Market on the Bushrod Island.
Other areas are Camp Johnson Road, Center Street, Benson Street, McDonald Street, Clay Street, Newport Street, Capitol Hill, Bassa Community and UN Drive, among others, leaving business personnel and residents becoming their own garbage collectors or traders in filths.
It was also observed that the drainages between Mechlin and Water Streets and at the intersection of Benson and Gurley Streets have been damaged for a long period of time.
Other areas toured by our reporter were the densely populated Red-light Market, where marketers were also seen doing business in the mountainous stockpile of garbage at the famous Pipeline road.
Also, the construction work of the Coca-Cola Factory on ELWA road has been stalled, due to the dumping of huge garbage, coupled with the overcrowding of the entire market, despite being relocated to the newly constructed Omega Market.
ELWA Road, known as one of Liberia’s famous transit points, has also seen the stockpile of huge garbage in the middle of the road being built, while around the ELWA Market is now being illegally used as a serious dirt site for residents of the RIA Road.
Other areas experiencing serious garbage issues are the Barnersville belt, coming down to the NTA and Stephen Tolbert Estate, reaching to the 72nd Junction, and connecting to Police Academy.
And besides the dirt and bad smell of the cities, some “disadvantaged youths” (Zogoes) are, on the other hand, using various silent weapons to terrorize peaceful citizens for their belongings, especially during the early morning and late evening hours.
The lawless behaviors of these “Disadvantaged Youths” have made Monrovia, Paynesville, Barnersville, and other parts of the country, dangerous to many persons, especially women, who are the victims in most cases.
The Monrovia City Corporation, by its statutes, is responsible to keep the city tidy, and with the supervision of the LNP, help to maintain law and order in the city, but that has not been really observed since the inception of the current mayors.
With these concerns, and even though it is not uncommon for politicians to prioritize their own ambitions, the decision of city mayors to abandon their responsibilities and shift their focus entirely to campaigning is a matter of great concern for the public.
These mayors hold crucial positions within their respective cities, and are vital in ensuring the functioning and cleanness of these urban areas, but the neglect experienced by these cities is alarming, leaving critical municipal services affected.
Meanwhile, several residents spoken to, could not hold back their thoughts of a ‘dirty Liberia’, and called on the various cities’ Mayors to be more robust in ensuring that the cities are cleaned to an appreciable standard.
According to them, sanitation, waste management, and infrastructure maintenance under the government of President George M. Weah have taken a backseat, as mayors dedicate their time to more political and party activities, rather than the work being paid for.
Paul Larmin, a shop owner at the ELWA Junction, stated, “Consequently, garbage collection, street cleaning, and repairs to essential infrastructure, are being delayed or completely disregarded, while our mayors are all seen wearing expensive clothes.”
“And this is something that is seriously contributing to the significant decline in the overall cleanliness and functionality of the cities, even though we business personnel are paying our taxes regularly,” Larmin said.
Ma Mary, a table market seller, in conversation with our reporter, added, “We tired talking about this dirt issue because the people them responsible are all don’t-care and we are paying the LMA and PCC for this dirt to be cleaned from the market.”
“And to be honest, we the market women are the ones really suffering from this dirt issue, because every day, our friends keep getting sick from the dirt and this neglect is not only about cleanliness of the cities, but also the safety of our lives,” she added.