Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Reminisce Monday

The Trend of Liberia's Monkey-Baboon Politics Barely four week to the re-inauguration of the Liberian president, Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, has the opposition Congress for Democratic Change, CDC, has expressed desired to masquerade the principle street of the country’s capital Monrovia, every Monday after their Monday, November 21, 2011 symbolic casket parade of three falling members who allegedly gunned down by members of the Liberian National Police, Emergency Response Unit (ERU). On the eve of the 2011 presidential elections runoff, Monday November 7, 2011, live ammunition was discharged among enthusiastic CDC partisans who said they were taking to the street that they were boycotting the elections runoff which was won by the incumbent Sirleaf over the CDC which claims the most popularity in Liberia. According to the Cllr. Winston Tubman Standard Bearer of the opposition, the party does not recognize the Unity Party as winner of the 2011 presidential election despite ECOWAS observers said the elections met the entire requirement to be classified free, fair, credible and transparent. This statement was made at the party’s funeral rally last Monday when the Cllr. Tubman vowed as of November 28, 2011, his party will masquerade in with an ANC style until the international community come to understand that the CDC was not a part of the runoff election. such action according to some Liberians who expressed fear of their country sliding back into a state of anarchy is not good for the young democracy and peace the country have enjoyed since 2003. Pictures to be uploaded soon...

Saturday, October 8, 2011

MPW Healed Belle Yella’s Woe

Since the formation of Liberia in 1847, the Belle District of Gbarpolu saw the first motor vehicle ply its soil in 2011 with the efforts of the Atty. Samuel Kofi Woods, II administered Public Works Ministry under the Unity Party (UP) led government. As the late Belle chief, Jallah Lone, accounted the people of Citizens of Belle Yella in 1926 tried to construct a road to link them with the rest of Gbarpolu with their bare hands but abandoned the struggle due to lack of support from the Charles D.B. King government. In 2006 when President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf took over the presidency, she promised infrastructure development to all part of the country the Bopolu-Belle Yella road being one of the developmental projects. Though slowed by some unforeseen circumstances the Belle Yella road project encountered during its construction this year, the people of Gbarpolu County, especially Belle Yella District now enjoys a 41 miles road which links them to the rest of the county. Knowing the importance of the road to the county’s history, Minister Woods expressed concern over the slow progress of the road project and instituted new measures which sped up the project until its completion in late June. The ministers and some partners assessed the road works in the county and eventually had PEALAT, the company awarded the bid of to construct the road, sub-contracted TEAM, a company specialized in bridge building, to give contractors a more specific task to complete in considerable period. At a meeting after the assessment, it was decided Pealat Construction submitted a comprehensive work schedule for the project which was funded by Liberian Taxpayers’ Money to create direct access to Belle Yalla which was cut off from the rest of the country before beginning of this year rainy season. Also at the meeting, the Resident Engineer and Project Consultant at the time were mandated to submit a weekly work- progress-report in line with the already submitted work schedule to the Minister and Senior Management Team. To checkmate possible fraud individuals may have gotten involve, verbal or oral discussion and communication without documentary backup was no longer accepted by the MPW Senior Management so far as matters relating to the Belle Yella Road project were concerned. The move excepted by the MPW official allowed the main contractors to concentrate on the road thus speeding up the project. The completion of the 41 mile road in that part of the country was a fulfillment of some of the unity party led government promise of infrastructure development to the people of gbarpolu yea Liberia.

Monday, September 19, 2011

UP Platform Invisible

Liberians Worry about Party’s Deliverables Several residents of the community of WestPoint have expressed doubt over the withholder of the ruling unity party’s campaign platform. According to Samuel Jarvey, who claimed to have come back to Liberian in December of 2010, he is yet to pledge his support to any party during the 2011 elections slated for October 11, 2011. “I was impressed by the crowd the unity party pull during their campaign launch, but I am to decide which party to vote for base on their platform. The unity party has leaved me in doubt what would be their deliverables if they win the election,” he said.
Also speaking to our reporter a business woman, Yvonne Smith, said though the Unity Party had tried its best to address some situation in the country, she did not understand if the party had any added objectives. “The unity party may have gotten popular since it took the presidency of the country, but that does not warrant leaving us in doubts of what are it plans for their second term,” she pointed out. Last Saturday, September 18, 2011, approximately several UP partisans and sympathizers from locations around Montserrado County and beyond marched through the principle street of Monrovia to the Antoinette Tubman Staduim ATS; built to accommodate 10,000 spectators for a football match. Temperature in the over capacitated stadium became so high that the National Fire Service (NFS) created artificial rain to quench the blistering heat which had begun to suffocate the third overwhelming crowd pull by any one political party in the country. At least ten of the jubilant UP loyalists and sympathizers fainted at the stadium and was rushed to hospital before the party’s standard bearer, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, mounted the stage to address the gathering. President Sirleaf was supposed to present the party’s platform to her supporters but begged them to go home instead after her approximately five minutes speech because of the heat hazard which was beginning to prevail. Incumbent resident Ellen Johnson Sirleaf highlighted the successes she and her able lieutenants have accomplished in the country including reformation in the human and infrastructure development. The impressed UP presidential aspirant urged the crowd to vote for not only her but all those running on the party’s ticket because the other UP officials, if elected will boost the next government’s efforts in moving the country forward. In her closing remarks the second term hopeful thanked the crowd for coming out to show their loyalty to the party and the vision to the rebuilding of a viable Liberian society. During the march, political slogans such as “it will hold”, “ugly baboon wait small” and “the mansion is lock, Ellen has the key” could be heard as the crowd journeyed to the ATS with second term hopefuls incumbent Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Joseph N. Boikia. Impressed by the massive turnout, several stewards who were at launch, including NPA director Mathilda Parker and Internal Affairs Minister Harrison Karnwea among other expressed how confident they were of their standard bearer retaking the Liberian presidency. Some jubilant partisans said they had made up their minds several years ago to follow the unity party because the party gives them assurance of tolerance, hope, justice and peace. Frontpage Africa asked 26years old George Fayiah, one of the overzealous UP partisans, what have prompted such historical turnout for the Unity Party as compare to previous elections. “The people say we do not the numerical strength to defeat them, but from today I think that doubt is clear. As you can see people are even fainting around this place,” Mr. Fayiah said. However, sayings such as “our players are on loan today and will return when we are ready for them” could be heard from some onlookers probably neutral or from another party.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Motorcyclists Reassured Support to Ellen

Several hundred commercial motorcyclists, pehm pehm boys, last Thursday September 15, 2011 gathered at the fish market in Monrovia and reassured their support for the re-election of the incumbent, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. At the gathering the president thanked the crowd for coming out under the rain to re-assure their support to her at this time of the election period and lauded the contribution the motorcyclists were making in the country transport sector. For “safety sake” President Sirleaf gives out more helmets and illuminable vest to several of the riders at the site. Furthermore, madam Sirleaf gived the LMTU 1,000 gallons of gas slip and L$ 20,000 as a gesture to the assembly potential electorates who will got to poll on October 11, 2011. The motorbike riders thanked the president for such gesture which will help them and their organization to become more improved. According Mr. Robert M. Sammie Secretary General of the Liberian Motorbike Transport Union (LMTU), they converge to reassure their support to President Sirleaf because she has been helping the motorcyclists in the country. He said the president have made Liberia a peaceful nation in which they can work and support their family and also improve the road network in the country among others in her last term. LMTU secretary general Sammie said the incumbent have promised to give the union a land to begin the construction of a national headquarters for the union come October 23, 2011. Also speaking with the FrontPage Newspaper, Donato Bovel, General Supervisor of the LMTU, said the union will contribute to a non-violent election. Mr. Bovel said he was pledging his support to president Sirleaf because she have “demonstrated her love for the young people” of the nation. Beside that he said since the inauguration of Madam Sirleaf in 2006, he have seen and heard a lot of improvement about the development of the country’s infrastructure, health and education sectors which he term as a “positive sign” to have her reelected. One of the motorcyclists, Alex K. Nunue, of ELWA district # 6, said he was pledging his support to the president not because he would receive gas slip and money from the Unity Party’s candidate but because she, president Sirleaf, have done well. “Madam Sirleaf have done very well in her last term to get us this far. I think if we give her the presidency again things will get even better than they are,” Mr. Nunue said. Jusufu Jaward, a motorcyclist from red-light district # 5, said he had come to pledge his support to the Madam Sirleaf because he “loved” her and the things she has done to help the motorcyclists in the country. The motorcyclists first pledged their support to the president in March of this year for her development agenda aimed at transforming Liberia.

“Fees Increment at JFK is a Rumor”

CMO McDonald Clarifies Dr. Wvannie Scott-McDonald, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) at the John F. Kennedy (JFK) Memorial Medical Center last Thursday September 15, 2011, termed media reports about an increment in medical services fees at the hospital as rumors, because the institution discharges several persons on what she called uncompensated care. Addressing a team of journalists at the JFK’s administrative building, Dr. McDonald described reports that “management of the hospital has sharply increased the fee for women wanting to give birth from L$500 to US$50.00 or L$3,500.00” as mere speculations that cannot be proven. CMO McDonald said the institution, since 2006, has added more free services rather than fees, as the administration can attest to. She highlighted increased social services, training of early young teens to care for their infants and healthcare for children under five and something she termed as ‘uncompensated care’ as services added over the past few years in fulfillment of the government’s Poverty Reduction Strategy. Dr. McDonald disclosed that the Government of Liberia has spent about US$3 million on uncompensated care alone. She explained that when she earlier took over the institution, people were saying the hospital was dirty and medical services were inadequate, but today they are saying the fees are too high; “they will always find something to say” she added. The Chief Medical Officer also used the medium to express dissatisfaction over the disposal of corpses around the hospital’s facility at night by unknown individuals. She said corpses found around the hospital’s facility in recent times were individuals that were not admitted at the hospital, but have led to the public speculating that the hospital was polluting the environment by dumping corpses at the beach-end of 20th Street. “Sometimes we see these bodies around the facility but we have to contact the police because it’s a homicide that could be termed a murder if the police are not informed before the body is removed,” she said. Dr. McDonald pointed out that unclaimed corpses at the hospital are disposed of in a respectable way in consonance with the law that such bodies should be reported to the police and a notice is sent out for 72 hours before burial. She said about 25 dead bodies remain at the hospital unclaimed because some families don’t turn up for them after the individuals die. The CMO said the hospital reports all those who die in the hospital and what was the cause of their death so the institution could not just go about dumping dead bodies in places that will bring harm to other people. “We live in a society where we have respect for our dead. This is shown by us carrying flowers to their graves on Decoration Day. Why should people dump their relatives exposed body on the street around the hospital,” she said. In her closing remarks Dr. McDonald called on the public to refrain from the act of dumping bodies around the hospital which is not good for the people living around the vicinity. She ruled out the rumor of increased death rate of 3 to 5 patients dying daily as a result of less attention allegedly paid to patients, because the patients, do not have enough cash to pay as a result of the “new increased fees.”

Friday, August 26, 2011

In the fight against Corruption

Audit Reports are Not Taboos for the Public
-AG Morlu tells African Auditors General

AG Morlu makes presentation during the AFROSAI-E Board Meeting

The Auditor General (AG) of Liberia, Mr. John S.Morlu II has expressed regret that most of the audit reports conducted by some African auditors general are merely shelved and labeled as taboos to the media, civil society organizations and the public at large.

Speaking Tuesday, 21 April 2009 at the Sixth AFROSAI- E Governing Board Meeting held in Lusaka, Zambia, AG Morlu emphasized that if African auditors general must succeed, the public must be active participants in terms of dissemination of audit information to the public once they are sent to the legislature, president and the auditees.

Auditor General further stressed that the public must know how, where, what and when public monies are spent by those entrusted with public monies. The resources of a country, he said, do not belong to government officials. Government officials are just custodians in ensuring appropriate utilization of public funds, but it is the general public that own the monies and resources.

“The fight for transparency and accountability”, AG Morlu averred, “is not a one or two man show and so audit reports must not be seen like a big secret or sacred document only meant to be kept with the auditors, auditees and the government.”

Morlu then expressed concern that up till now the secretariat of AFROSAI-E are yet to specifically carve strategic plans and policies on the need and importance of communication in the auditing processes. He has the Secretariat has not recruited Communication Manager since a year ago that will plan, organize, carve and structure a general communication plan for AFROSAI-E members.

AG Morlu told his fellow auditors that unlike most auditing commissions; the General Auditing Commission (GAC) is far ahead in recruiting professional journalists for the Department of Communications as well as legal analysts for the Legal Department. Most of the auditing institutions in AFROSAI-E do not have communication and legal departments and he urged them to do so. GAC department of communications has a standard communication policy.

The Auditor General of Liberia, Mr.Morlu was among 22 auditors general from the English and Portuguese speaking countries who attended the Meeting.

Zambian President Rapheal Binda who spoke at the opening program highlighted the challenges and importance of auditing in the transformation of Africa from the shackles of graft, abuse of resources, corruption and fiscal improprieties.

If Africa must develop, President Binda indicated, the age old corruption virus must be fearlessly fought by African Governments. He then lauded the steady strive that some auditors general in Africa are making in protecting public monies.

For her part, the Auditor General of Zambia, Ms.Anna Chifungula expressed compliments to the auditors general for their participation. She said she was pleased that auditors are united in single front to ensure fiscal discipline in their various countries.

Meanwhile, the Chief Communication Officer of the GAC, Ernest S.Maximore cataloguing his experience during the trip to Lusaka, explained that he was surprised that the real and personal properties of public officials who were proved to have stolen government monies were confiscated and auctioned by anti-corruption commission or tribunal .

This he noted, is a worth noted move to deter would-be-corrupt officials from using public monies to own estates and other properties while majority of the people wallow in abject poverty.

He said he anxiously opts for the day and dispensation in Liberia’s history where the fight against corruption will truly match with empirical deeds and where people will not only be suspended or dismissed but made to restitute what they stole from the public treasury.

The Meeting zero-on revamping, restructuring and reinforcing AFROSAI-E six strategies imperatives; namely human resource management, quality assurance, performance auditing, the independence of the Supreme Auditing Institution(SAI),the optimal utilization of information technology in the auditing process and communication and the media.

AG Morlu’s delegation comprises five senior staff: Ron Mwambwa,Head of European Union(EU) Long Term Technical Team assigned at GAC, George Nubo, Director of Operations, Gloria Valhum, Chief of Office Staff, Office of the Auditor General ,Loraine Clarke,Executive Secretary, Office of the Auditor General, Ernest S.Maximore,Chief Communication Officer,Cornelius F.Wennah,Director of Legal Services and Lawrence W. Jackson Manager, Legal Services Manager.

The Delegation is expected home, today Monday,April 27,2009.The Sixth Board Meeting of AFROSAI- was held from 20th April to the 24th .

AFROSAI –E is an organization that succeeds the Southern African Development Community Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (SADCOSAI) which was established as an independent organization in 1991.

The objectives of AFROSAI-E, among other things include, enhancing the audit performance of Supreme Audit Institutions in the AFROSAI-E region; developing and share resources on local and regional levels; promoting and maintaining relations with national, regional and international institutions specializing in issues affecting the audit of public resources and to support regional institutions in promoting good governance.

UN Envoy Extols Nigerians’ peacekeeping Role in Liberia

Says they are ‘ Face of UNMIL’

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG), Ms. Ellen Margrethe Løj has extolled Nigerian military personnel serving with the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) for their valuable role in maintaining peace and stability in the country
Ms. Løj made this statement recently in Monrovia when she awarded 1,648 UNMIL Nigerian military officers, seventy-two of whom are women, received UN peacekeeping medals for their contribution.

“You have indeed performed your duties honorably; and I know that it has not been easy”, she told the Nigerian peacekeepers. Reminding them of the formidable role they continue to play in maintaining peace and stability, the UN Envoy spoke of the protection of lives and properties, including assistance given to almost one half of Liberia’s population. “You are, more than anybody in the Mission - the Face of UNMIL”, the SRSG pointed out.

Ms. Løj expressed optimism that the goal of consolidating peace in Liberia will be accomplished as a result of collaboration between the UN, Liberians and other partners. This collaboration, she noted, will help in tackling security and rule of law challenges - the prevalence of armed robbery, rape and drug trafficking. “However, in doing so, we must never forget that ultimately, Liberia’s future rests firmly on Liberians’ shoulders”, the UN Envoy reminded, adding that, “Liberians have the opportunity to build a new country today”.

Paying tribute to former Nigerian Contingent Commander, Brig.-Gen. Ezekiel Olu Olofin, Ms. Løj described how he brought to the Mission qualities and values based on hard work, respect for diversity, generosity and compassion for humanity. “We in UNMIL benefited immensely from his leadership”, she emphasized. The UN Envoy expressed confidence that his successor, Brig.-Gen. Ebiobowei Bonna Awala will contribute equally well.

Reflecting on Nigeria’s contribution to peacekeeping, the SRSG said Nigeria has exemplified the leadership and generous disposition through its unmatched record in peacekeeping and conflict resolution in Africa and globally. She extended thanks and appreciation to the Government and people of Nigeria, for their unflinching commitment and support to peace, especially in Liberia. Nigeria is one of the largest troop contributors to the United Nations and has been for most of the past four decades.

Attending the medal ceremony was the representative of the Chief of Defence Staff of the Nigerian Military, Chief of Research and Development, Defence Headquarters, Maj.-Gen. FNN Osokogu. Others attending were the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Rule of Law, Ms. Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu; Acting Force Commander, Maj.-Gen. Carl Modey; Director of Mission Support, Mr. Stephen Lieberman; Command Officer-in-Charge, Armed Forces of Liberia, Maj.-Gen. Suraj Abdurrahman; Charge d’Affaires of the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Liberia, Mr. Essien Ntekim, other members of the Diplomatic Corps, and senior UNMIL Military officers.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Motor Accident at Bomi Highway

At about 6:30 A.M. yesterday, a heartbreaking motor accident occurred at Monrovia-Bomi Highway, leaving at least eight passengers dead.
Three passengers including two women and a man died instantly at the accident scene and five others at the John F. Kennedy Hospital in Sinkor, Monrovia.
Eyewitnesses said a commercial bus, heading towards Sass Town market on the Bomi highway was smashed and dragged by a ten-tire MACK truck, with license plate marked BT 1324.
The bus driver died instantly while several others sustained serious injuries and were subsequently rushed to Island Clinic at Tweh Farm on Bushrod Island and John F. Kennedy Hospital in Sinkor.
The bus, which contained mostly market women caught fire after it collided with the truck and burned for over 20 minutes, making it impossible for the other two bodies to be physically identified.

Eyewitnesses said the 18- seater mini-bus was carrying about 20 passengers. The bloody incident attracted hundreds of grieved stricken onlookers.
Although JFK officials could not be reached for formal comment on the conditions of the injured victims, credible sources at the hospital said eight of the seriously injured motor accident victims died by 2:30 p.m. some upon their arrival.
This information could not be officially corroborated by authorized medical personnel at the state-owned hospital.
Eyewitness said the bus was heading for Sass Town where several market women were going to purchase goods for their various businesses.

According to Abraham Gurmo, husband of one of the victims identified as Saybah Morris, he had earlier cautioned his wife not to go out because it was too early for her to the house but she insisted.

Other eyewitnesses said that the accident was the fault of the truck as it was driving with a single light.

Drugs On Monrovia’s Streets

Monrovia- It can be recorded that in the early months of 2009, the P.H.P community on Lynch Street was raided of ghettos. Thugs that were residing in the area have been reduced to a great extent that people can now feel free to visit the area at night. Having been dislodged from their P.H.P base, many thugs have migrated into communities where drug houses already exist. The fact is known the world over that drug is one of the factors that threaten security in any country, as it give rise to armed robbery among other art of violence in order to keep its market running. Several areas in Monrovia, including Vlagba, West Point and Trench Town among others, have been earmarked as areas where drugs are visibly being sold and little is being done by law enforcement agency to put stop to the act. According to residents of a community in Central Monrovia, Vlagba, there are many drugs houses that are being run despite the existence of the Liberian National Police (LNP) depot in the area which make them feel insecure. A dweller of the community, who prefer anonymity for fear of retribution, in a chat with the Newsline expressed graved concern over the sale of illicit drugs in the area, which he said ‘have effected some youth and my young children are exposed to the abuse of narcotics.’ He narrated how drugs moved into the area and that it has grown into companies which are gradually developing into a clan that could become strong enough to resist the law. It has been proven that these criminals and some national security officers are in the dealing of drugs. Despite the danger it poses on the health and thoughts of many youngsters, narcotics are flowing on the Liberian street especially in Central Monrovia where a higher level of national security offices is concentrated. The problem of drug abuse in Liberia goes beyond just the users. Farmers are tempted to grow cannabis rather than other crops because its profits are higher and the drug can be trafficked relatively easily throughout the region, 100km and 150km from Monrovia. The Drugs Enforcement Agency (DEA) in June of last year simultaneously disposed of a huge consignment of narcotic drugs valued over L$24million in the 15 political sub-division of the country. In April of this year, DEA agents in Greenville, Sinoe County accused some law enforcement officers in the county of aiding drug traffickers. Apart from the cannabis grown in rural Liberia other synthetic drugs such as cocaine, Italian White, Dugee, morphine among others are found on the streets of Monrovia. Information gathered in the area indicated that some national security officers and the drugs dealers in central Monrovia are in a very close tie and the ghettos hardly get raid. According to an informant, who preferred anonymity, the only time ghettos get raided is when an order is issued from headquarters for a general raid which last took place in January of this year. Besides the general raid, the police often visit some of the ghettos on Self Interest Operations SIOs at which time the narcotics dealers organized some funds for them. For the ghetto at center street there is more than one dealer. Each of these dealers operates on certain day of the week in other to get their product going. According to a resident of Center Street, recently, one of the many ghettos has been attended to by the LNP in the area which they termed as a flow-show because other drug house is still functioning on Center Street. One of the areas noted for trade in drugs is the Casablanca “video center” on Center Street. Visiting the Casablanca “video center” (drugs center) for the first time you may mistake it as a mare video center or a place where “direct” (Marijuana Tea), is been sold, but rather this place is a hide out of many street thugs who rage terror in the Liberian society at night. Many of the thugs hidden in the area often venture the night streets ravaging the security of citizens by raiding valuables and also dealing injuries or possible death to some who hesitate in giving up their belongings. Apart from the Casablanca “gap” (drugs house), there are other gaps in the same area. An unfinished house opposite the drainage beside the previous LNP Metro station on Center Street. Speaking to some street thugs, identified as Abu and Joe, who have been dealing drugs and raided, they said that the master minds of the many armed robberies that happen at night are the drugs dealers. According to Joe, many other thugs often take “dangerous risk” (go armed robbing) at night and take their loots to the drugs dealers in exchange for drugs. This indicates that the strong urge to have narcotics in their thuggish body has giving the dealers the influence of a ruler, who could at any time instruct these thugs and they will obey no matter the risk. Joe ,said he was once raid on center by some member of the Police Support Unit (PSU), in the early part of July but got free based on the bagging between the police and the dealer. “In Vlagba, I was there the PSU came and raid us. After they raided us, they when strict to the dealer and the dealer ‘advised’ (pay ransom to) them and they let all of us that was raided to go,” he said. According to one ex-police officer, such influence becomes even more dangerous when the dealers also have influences on some national security by placing them on payroll. According to informant, every Sunday many thugs assemble in an area located in the Center-Lynch Street block where dealers issue “market” (Drugs) to some addicts, in other to keep their customer ship running. Verifications have been made that the exact location is behind the tailor shop opposite the Fofana store on Benson Street, approximatly 100 meters away from the LNP Depot.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Dare Deviling at Camp

If you haven’t gone to a camp as a young person, you have missed some of the most exciting moments in life. This kid proved to his friends who regarded as “scared and weak” how brave he was by jumping a bonfire. Camps can be hosted for different purposes, including football, Christian enlightenment or scouting to name a few. Whatever the purpose of a camp, those who attend always have a chance to do things they would not do at home.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Poet Wants Liberians to Study Creative Writing

By Leroy M. Sonpon, III (231-6-585875)

A Liberian celebrity poet, Associate Professor Dr. (Mrs.) Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, has encouraged Liberians to take interest in poet and creative writing, as well as African literature.

Prof. Wesley told reporters yesterday that the study of arts (poetry) and literature enable ones to express themselves through creative writings, evidence of her publication of books of peotry. She said arts (poetry) and literature make a nation.

The Liberian poet made the assertions at Ministry of Information’s weekly press briefing, in the Ministry’s conference room in Monrovia.

Dr. Wesley is an Associate Profession of English and African Literature at Penn State University, Penn State Altoona, USA. She is an author of four books of poetry.

According to the Prof. Wesley, her first book of poetry, Before The Palm Could Bloom, was published in 1998. It entails a collection of poems about the African continent.
The second book, Becoming Ebony, was authored in 2003, while the third book, The River Is Rising, was published in 2007.
Dr. Wesley stated that her second book of poetry articulated the essence and peculiarity of becoming a black (ebony) person, and the third book is mainly about the Liberian civil war and the devastation it has brought and also the rising of the nation.
1n 2010, the Fourth book, Where The Road Turns, was in print. This book, talks about ones’ decision and choices in life.
Prof. Wesley was born in Tugbakeh, Maryland County and grows up in Monrovia. In 1985, she earned her Master Degree from Indiana University, Blomington Indiana, USA, in English Education. In 2002, she got her Doctorate (Ph.D) degree from Western Michigan University, Michigan, USA, in English and Creative Writing.
“The books, hopefully next week, will be on sale, between US$12 to US$15. And I hope Liberians as well as foreigners will take interest in reading them,” Prof. Wesley stated.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Slum Dwellers Face Sanitary crisis

The unsanitary condition of mushrooming slum neighborhoods across Monrovia has further deteriorated due principally to the lack of toilet facilities in the homes or even pits latrines for use by these communities.

Dwellers of this dominant type of human settlement across the city are also battling with ‘bad air’ or squalor emanating from mountains of garbage stockpiles in these neighborhoods.

Inhabitants of these areas have continued to blame their being in these areas on worsening conditions in their communities of origin in other parts of the country. For instance, growing slum communities along the Measurado River account for at least 2/5 of Monrovia’s population (970,824 people), according to the final results of the 2008 National Population and Housing Census (NPHC) published by the Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS) in May of 2009.

The slum communities include West Point, Slipway, Jallah’s Town, Saye Town and Plunkor. Approximately, according to the Census results, 194,000 dwellers in these randomly built dilapidated houses and zinc shacks without toilet facilities or enough spacing in between to allow sanitary workers reach homes at the rear of those communities to collect garbage. These people have also built more than 500 makeshift toilets along the bank of the River; thus increasing the unsanitary nature of their dwelling places.

To make matter worse, they also dispose of their garbage and other waste materials directly into the River, which in turn, serves as breeding ground for tones of mosquitoes and flies.

Some concerned residents of the above mentioned slums, recently spoke with the Daily Observer in an exclusive interview. They outlined several issue they think are responsible for the unsanitary condition of their communities, despite relentless efforts on the part of the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC) to sanitize the entire city.

“This community has been going on like this longer than you think. But I’ve continued to live here,” Samuel Moore, 33, a resident of Plunkor said.

“Some of the makeshift toilets are even older than me. Some, too, were recently built. You see as more people come into this community and build their homes without toilets, they add one or two toilets to those already along the river,” Moore explained.

Moore blamed their condition on abject poverty. He said they are hugely impoverished and cannot afford to construct flush toilets in their homes.

But Eddie Gietar has a diverging view on this matter. Gietar, a resident of Jallah’s town, is of the conviction that slum dwellers deliberately construct their homes without toilets. “It has nothing to do with money,” added.

“Building a house is a project and there is no way you are going to carry out a project without a plan. If you plan to build a house, tell me how will you leave out a bathroom which is to your own convenience?” Mr. Gietar asked.
Mr. Gietar recommended one way the people in these communities could stop using the river as toilet was if the city government prevails on owners of houses that lack toilets to make at least one room in their homes as a restroom.
“Until the MCC come up with a mandate that will have these people changing rooms in their homes to toilets, the river will be used for defecation purpose. That means we will live like this forever,” Mr. Gietar asserted.
Concerning the issue of garbage, an elderly resident of Saye Town, who asked to speak on the basis of anonymity for fear he may be seen as an instigator against the community said, the garbage along the river was a result of how cluttered the houses in the community are.
He admitted though he lived closer to the river, he also dumped his dirt on its bank too.
“It is not that I want to do that, but garbage collectors don’t reach my home because people have built their houses all on the alleys,” he said.
The Daily Observer then contacted Mr. Nyenpan Jlateh, Public Affairs Officer the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC), via mobile phone on what was being done to improve the sanitation situation in the area.
According to Mr. Jlateh, the city corporation has organized a garbage collection scheme under which every community in Monrovia will be beneficiaries.
As pertaining to the toilets build on the river, Mr. Jlateh said the city government is running a running a water front program under a World Bank project to give the river line a face lift.
“We have begun to break down some of those toilets in the in the Slipway community under our water front program,” he said.
But what will become of the communities which relies on those river toilets, the MCC public affairs officer said his corporation was working in line with community leaders to identify areas where they could construct public latrines for the people in the area.

“Do Not Allow Your Handicap to Hold You down”

Ambassador Greenfield Urged Deaf Students

Amb. Linda Thomas Greenfield

The United States Ambassador to Liberia, Ms. Linda Thomas Greenfield, over the weekend encouraged students of the Hope for the Deaf school to push forward in life and not be depressed by their handicaps.
She spoke as a guest speaker on Friday, June 25, 2011, at the first kindergarten graduation exercise which saw nine hearing impaired children promoted to the first grade.
The program was characterized by many activities including songs, drama, cultural performance, visual aid demonstration, spelling bee contest, solo and dance - all performed by the students.
Ambassador Greenfield said disable people were doing many things in the Liberian society and the school has empowered its 63 students to live more meaningful lives that could help them in the society.
“Disable people are doing many things in the Liberian society and their works are being recognized, we know so many. I want you students to know that I have a young man working for me at the US Embassy who is hearing impaired,” the US ambassador encouraged the assembly of deaf students and their parents.
Narrating how the hearing impaired staff, Isaac Jefferson of the US embassy travelled several time to get instructions on his job as a voucher examiner, the ambassador urged the students not to allow their disabilities to hold them down.
“Mr. Jefferson is a dedicated and well respected colleague at my embassy here in Monrovia. He is not only focused on his own success, Mr. Jefferson focuses on providing educational opportunities for other deaf children so that they can achieve what he has achieved in his life. He did not allow his handicap to hold him down. And I want to say to you, do not allow your handicap to hold you back,” she said.
She told the students they could be leaders, teachers or business persons and become well respected but they needed to think big and stay focused to meet their goals.
“Your President was in the United States recently, and she give a commencement address at the Harvard University, and one of the things she said resonated with me, she said and I quote; ‘if your goals don’t scare you, it is not big enough.”
Impressed by the activities which characterized the graduation ceremony, the US diplomat urged the parents to be proud of their children despite the handicap that they (the children) are faced with.
Also speaking at the program, Mr. David T. Worlobah, II, program coordinator of the Hope for Deaf Institute, said deaf education in Liberia has suffered difficulties because of limited support or enthusiasm.
Mr. Worlobah said because there are fewer schools in the country that provide any education for young people who are hearing or speaking impaired, illiteracy remains high among them (deaf and dumb).
“The objective of this school is to empower these people through education to help themselves in the society,” he said.
He encouraged the parents to help bridge the communication barrier between them and their children to promote a smooth relationship among them.
“I will like parents to help their children. Some parents are not showing interest in their children. If a person is deaf, that does not mean that person is not mentally sound. I have encouraged parents to come and learn the sign language,” he said.
He said there are plans to expand the program from Monrovia to other parts of the country to give opportunity to those living with deafness to learn and become productive citizens in the country.
Though the school is conducting training in shoemaking, the program coordinator said there are intentions to integrate more vocational training including soap making, tailoring and tie and dye.
“Hope for the deaf has been in the vanguard to make the lives of the deaf in Liberia better,” he said.
Amb. Greenfield and Students

Dancing without Sound

In our contemporary world, people have various forms of impediments that they must accept to live with, no matter what. Some are visually or hearing impaired, others have physical disabilities yet some have impediments that would only be seen if carefully observed. It is interesting how people who accept their conditions tend to overcome their problems. The culture performers seen in this photograph are girls who have accepted the impediment they are faced with deafness. This girl performed vibrant culture dance without the sound of drums. Interestingly, her motion corresponded with the gesture of a man made with his hands in thin air.

Monday, June 13, 2011

“Corruption is holding you down”

Ambassador Greenfield tells Cuttington’s Graduates

Suakoko- US Ambassador to Liberia, H. E. Linda Thomas Greenfield, last Sunday, June 12, 2011, blamed the underdevelopment of Liberia on corruption, which she said continues to violate Liberia’s trust and interest.
Madam Greenfield made this remark while delivering a commencement address at the 50th commencement convocation of the Cuttington University College (CUC) in Suakoko, Bong County which saw the graduation of at least 552 students.
“while most people are struggling to make ends meet to feed their children, send them to school, and provide them with health care under difficult circumstances,,” the US diplomat said, “there are misuse of public coffers; which should not be tolerated.”
In her 37 minutes speech to the assembly of graduates and other people present, Madam Greenfield acknowledged the significant progress Liberia has made in the area of Health, Academic, and other social amenities that could inspired Liberians at home and abroad to work harder.
“Schools are opening-up in urban and rural areas so that children can go to school. Hospitals are being built to provide decent health care to the public. Streets and communities are receiving lights to improve the quality of life of citizens. And infrastructure is being developed to increces the potential of foreign direct investment and the development of local entrepreneurs. All of these possibilities inspire us to work even harder,” she said.
“If I told you that there are no challenges,” she added. “I would be less honest with you. Because I very much care about Liberia, I don’t shy away from being critical, when necessary. Let me repeat what I have said on many occasions. The one problem that continues to violate your trust and interest is corruption.”
Not defending corruption in the United States, Ambassador Greenfield, acknowledged there exist corruption in the United States, which is not right in where ever it exists. But corruption in the United States does not lead to the lack of roads, schools, or keep ports not operating.
“Corruption in Liberia is holding you back,” Madam Greenfield, upon who the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, LHD was conferred, told the audience present.

Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield

Friday, June 10, 2011

Bike Riding: A Source of Hope

By Bill E. Diggs

A major remedy to soaring unemployment rate among the youths in contemporary Liberia has been commercial motorbike riding --- conveying locals from one point to the other. It creates a unique avenue for self-employment and further avails itself as a strategic source of livelihood for hundreds of Liberian youths in this post-conflict context. Majority of the “phen, phen boys”, as they locally called, find themselves in the low income bracket of the society and are massively unlettered.

The Daily Observer has been investigating how bike riding has transformed the life of young Fayiah Dinnor of the Jallah Town community in Monrovia.

Dinnor, 21, has six years of experience as a commercial motorcyclist. He described his bike as his friend, family, and sole source of livelihood. At age 15, Dinnor lost both of his parents and has since been struggling on his own. He told the Observer that “the swelling level of suffering I endured after the death of my parents forced me into becoming a commercial bike rider. I was only 15 years old by then and had reached the junior high level in school. Life became a terrible experience for me. There was no one there for me. Fortunately, a friend of mine, a bike rider, offered to help me. And his only help was to train me into becoming a bike rider like him. The training lasted for only a week,” he explained.

He began as a contracted rider and was expected to report earnings on a daily basis. But Dinnor made enough to report the required amount to the bike owner by the close of each day, while saving enough to see himself through his junior and senior high school studies.
“I use a gallon and the half gasoline, which cost L$495, per a day. By the close of day, I make more than L$1,300. Of that amount, L$600 goes to the bike owner and the remaining L$205 becomes mine. I am now banking at least L$1,000 on a weekly basis,” he explained.

However, the entire earnings of Sundays go to Dinnor, as agreed upon by him and the bike owner. Dinnor further commented on the bullying received by him at the hands of police in Monrovia. “In some cased, the police spend the entire day giving us hard time for trivial reasons. Some passengers, too, simply choose to not to pay us fees our required fare. Also, cab drivers, who are of the believe that we are threatening their survival because most of their customers would prefer riding with us, will not give us chance to freely go about our activities while in traffic,” he added.

Vehicle Owners Want City Parking Fees Reduced

As street vendors fears being removed from streets corners

Many vehicle owners and street vendors in the city of Monrovia have begun raising qualms over the city government’s initiative which will take effect as of June 6, 2011 to turn portions of certain streets into parking lots.
Speaking to the Daily Observer yesterday, Jerome Fallah, a scrap dealer and car owner, said he was impressed by the trend the city government was taking in order to regulate cars parking at random in the city, but stated that the fees being charged was a little complicated in relation to the minimum wage an average civil servant was making.
“I welcome the government initiative which is good, but I think that the fees are very exuberant. Let’s take the US as an example, a car park will charge twenty-five US cents which is like thirty-five Liberian Dollar per hour. Just imagine you working for US$80 but you were bless by a friend or relative with a car and you L$50 for every stop you make, will you have any money left at the end of the month?” he asked.
“I think it will be better if the city government goes by the same rate as the US if that is the system they want to imitate,” he added.
Besides drivers who expressed their dissatisfaction over the projected fees of approximately L$9,000 for 8 hours, 6 days and one month, most street vendors also fear being removed from the streets corners to pave way for the city government’s initiative.
Alvin Myers, a street who been selling jeans for more than five years on Randall Street, said this move could get them out of business because he had nowhere to go and sell his goods to get profit.
“There is no way we are going down waterside to sell. That is the same place we go to buy our goods that means the stores are nearby and people would prefer to go into the store and buy the jeans for cost price and leave us,” he said.
Jones Saye, another street vendor, said he would prefer if the city government relocated him to a more conducive area where he could do business.
“Maybe this is a plan of the government to move us from here but they have to relocate us. I hope they will not use it as a means to force us back into poverty,” he said.
The street parking initiative came as a result of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the city government and City Parking Management (CPM), a private Liberian company, under which owners of cars parking at locations designated as street parking must pay a toll of L$50 (US$0.68) for every hour their cars are parked.
According to information gathered by our reporter, the initiative, which is new, could be widely accepted in the Liberian society by pedestrians and some vehicles owners.
Though the initiative shows prospective of being embraced by the city’s populace who wants to see proper ordinance in Monrovia, several vehicle owners and street vendors as well as are worried about how said initiative is going to work without being a problem for them and government.
In an effort to find out how this was going to work, the Daily Observer visited the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC) to get the view of Madam Mary Broh, Acting City Mayor of Monrovia, who referenced the CPM as the best source of information on the issue.
When quizzed on lump sum the amount of the L$50 per hour toll would amount to if projected to a week then a month, CPM Administrative Assistant, Mr. T. Wellington Doyah, said ‘once a person owns a vehicle he/she understands the expensive that goes along and the L$50 toll was only addition.
He further said that cars parking in the parking space for any length of time below an hour will be required to pay the same toll as a car parking for a full hour and any minuets beyond the time paid for warrants another hour.
“The city government needs the funds raised to keep its projects such as street sweeping, garbage collect among others running,” he averred.
According to Mr. Doyah who also thinks that there could be some vehicle owners would violate the rules of the city ordinance, said that violator’s car would be booted and eventually towed to a police station for a US$ 20 fine to be paid.
Asked what would be done about the street vendors, Mr. Doyah said the CPM will get out into the streets, try to understand the vendors and make recommendations to the city government which is responsible to keep the city tidied.
A rough data gathered from the Ministry of Transportation indicates that the amount of cars registered in the country approximately 80,000.