President George Manneh Weah’s “three – month” road project ultimatum between Samuel Kanyon Doe Community and Clara Town is being greeted both by celebration and tears, mainly for some home owners in Clara Town who might become tenants very soon if government gives no relocation packages.
In its third week, the road project is deep into Doe Community already because marked structures on the routes from CEMENCO and WATUSI were cleared ever since, unlike in Clara Town where Public Works Ministry has gone back to do remarking of structures which will include some homes while by-passing the Clara Town Football Field.
Affected residents in Clara Town say Public Works authorities gave them three days last week to vacate marked structures, but they did not give them relocation packages or tell them where to go.
They say they are not opposing the road project, but they are appealing to government to give them relocation packages so that they do not become homeless.
A community spokesman in Clara Town Mr. Mustapha Massaquoi says they welcome the project because they love development, but he believes that government has to do something to compensate those affected.
Ahead of a delayed meeting with Public Works Minister Mabutu Nyenpan which was due in Clara Town on Saturday, 26 May, Mr. Massaquoi says those affected had been told by Publics Works workers to vacate in three days without addressing them on where they should go.
For that same road project, he says the past government of former President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf gave them papers so that they could get compensated, adding that the arrangement would have awarded him US$13,408.31 for his house.
But under the new arrangement of the Weah – led government, Mr. Massaquoi says they just see Public Works people carrying on remarking and ordering them to leave in three days without telling them where to go.
“This is why we call the media’s attention because we want the President to know, maybe it is not to the knowledge of the President,” Mr. Massaquoi says.
He says more than 50 homes are due to be affected in the demolition exercise, thus appealing to President Weah to come to their aid.
A resident of Clara Town, Veronica Sogbe says she is in favor of the road project, but the way it is being carried out has brought problem in their lives. She laments that they have nowhere to go, and they got children in school.
An elderly woman, Mrs. Jessie Jarboe whose entire house is marked has said government is about to move she and her children by force from a land she suffered to dry during those days. She says she got nowhere to go, saying if President Weah gives them place for relocation, they will be happy to go.
One of her sons, Mr. Emmanuel Jarboe says it is good to carry on development, but there must be a plan for anything you decide to do, taking into account every other little thing that will be involved in the future.
He says the past government gave papers, assuring those affected that they would have gotten compensation, but the new government is waging war on them by its plans to break down their houses without relocating them.
Also speaking, Mr. Foday Kamara, an affected resident says the project is welcoming, but the problem is that Public Works is deviating from the old marking and has gone deep into their areas and affecting houses that were not initially marked.
He says they were promised in 2016 that they would have gotten compensation, and he still hopes that President Weah’s government will compensate them. He says he has nowhere to go, and he would wait until the machine breaks down his house.
But Montserrado County District #14 Rep. A. Vamuyah Conneh claims that as far as he is concerned, government does not have funding for structures that will be destroyed in the project, telling the people to take their own responsibilities.
When engaged on the residents concern Saturday, 26 May at the project site in Doe Community, Public Works Minister Mabutu Nyenpan said he is hopeful that there will be minimum demolition, and whatever minimum demolition is carried out, there will be “an amicable settlement.”
He says the road project is not about dodging any structure, but they will do what is technically required so that the results will be long lasting.
A meeting was scheduled in Clara Town on Saturday, 26 May, but he told journalists that he hoped the people of Clara Town are interested in having roads connecting their communities.
Mr. Nyenpan says he is impressed by the project and he believes that the Ministry of Public Works (MPW) is on course. He says on the basis of the works being done, he is convinced he would operate within the 12 weeks mandate given by the President.
By Winston W. Parley