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45,000 residents to become homeless

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About 45,000 residents, particularly squatters from the Industrial Park in Gardnerville have staged street protests here against a planned demolition next Monday, 26 October by the Ministry of Public Works.

The protestors carrying placards on Monday, 19 October protested before the Pan African Plaza building, which is headquarters of the United Nations Mission in Liberia or UNMIL, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which also contains the official office of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and the Capitol Building to draw the attention of their lawmakers.

They disclosed that the government through the Ministry of Public Works has issued a two-week ultimatum for them to leave the Industrial Park as a foreign company has expressed interest in investing on the premises which will create employment.

But they said the timeframe given for them to vacate the park is unreasonable and harsh. The Industrial Park starts from the Stockton Creek Bridge community and to the Double Bridge community in Gardnerville.
Speaking to the Legislative Press Pool on Monday at the entrance of the Capitol Building, rights campaigner Prince Kreplah, described the government’s planned eviction as terrifying, unexpected and unwarranted.

Kreplah said the over 45,000 residents are Liberians so government should treat them with respect and dignity, appealing for additional time to enable the residents properly relocate rather them demolishing their homes and kicking them out as has been planned.

The protestors include children, women, physically challenged and jobless citizens, who are calling for intervention. The UN Mission in Liberia or UNMIL has promised to meet with President Sirleaf on the matter.
Meanwhile, Representative Richmond Anderson, in whose constituency the park is located, said his office had earlier appealed and received commitment from President Sirleaf that the residents would not be forcibly evicted, but is disappointed when the residents claimed he failed to identify with them.

Rep. Anderson explained that what might have prompted this action is some residents in connection with influential criminals entered the main fence of the park and began selling land on the premises. He called for the prosecution of those engaged in selling government’s land, narrating that squatters occupied the Industrial Park when sea erosion threatened West Point and Old Kru Town in 1965 during the administration of former President William V. S. Tubman, but some unscrupulous individuals had taken advantage of the situation by reselling and illegally expanding the plot of land initially provided them by the government.

By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor – Edited by Jonathan Browne

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