Since the offer for the construction of a ministerial complex by the Government of the People’s Republic of China at the cost of US$60m, delays continue to characterize the commencement of the entire project. The attributing caused of the delays for the construction of the building which should have begun last year after the Chinese Parliament had acquiesced with the proposal by the administration was and contuse to be the issue of “land”.
Two attempts-the acquisition of the ELWA land in Paynesville and incomplete new Defense Ministry complex in Congo Town, for the project may have failed because of the lack of proper organization and coordination by those charged with the responsibility to propel the process, resulting to the un-necessary embarrassment faced by the office of the President of Liberia.
Initially, after the ELWA land fiasco, the government had earlier announced that excluding squatters, all legitimate residents within the vicinity of the incomplete Defense Ministry, including those in the Peace Island Community produce land deeds for evaluation for compensation and relocation, but such decision triggered outcry through Human Rights Lawyer T. Dempster Brown and Supreme Court’s intervention.
Following stiff opposition in 2012 by citizens of a second plan by the Government of Liberia to demolish the incomplete Defense Ministry structure in Cong Town, through the intervention of the Supreme Court of Liberia, no one seems to be understanding what’s really going on regarding the construction project for which the demolition was intended.
Since then and despite the pronouncement by an official of the Information Ministry during one of its weekly press briefings last year that a technical committee comprising the Ministries of Lands, Mines and Energy, Public Works and Information would assiduously work toward a new site for the construction, the administration continues to remain conspicuously silent without any update to the detriment of the possibility of the US$60m Ministerial Complex project.
Whether or not the delays are a result of the fear or embarrassment of public outcry against any further decision by the Ellen Administration to secure a site to begin this national project, a decisive move is very imperative so that we don’t lose such opportunity from the Chinese Government.
This means that the so-called technical committee, as announced sometimes last year by Deputy Information Minister Norris Tweah, must not only exercise the highest degree of sincerity in the interest of LIBERIA, but their appointing power-President Ellen Johnson0-Sirleaf, in recommending a suitable site, since the government does not intend to build the ministerial complex on the outskirts of the Capital.
In our view- and without any malice against any individual or community, any decisive move by the administration must still incorporate a consideration for Peace Island in Congo Town in consonance with its strategic nature and location between Congo Town and Somalia Drive.
In so doing and uncompromisingly imbedded in such consideration, must be the issue of compensation and relocation of residents of the Island-something they may likely go for, owing to their acknowledgement that the land was given to them by the Government of Liberia without deeds-a very workable compromise over the precious plan leading to the Supreme Court’s decision last year.
With this deal done with residents of Peace Island, the incomplete new Defense Ministry structure could now be done to completion, using the US$4m earlier ear-marked by the Ministry of Public Works (with addition) for the demolition of the building, to host the Ministry of Justice, National Fire Service Bureau, Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization and a few other security agencies.
This is in view of the fact that the structure was purposely being constructed by the Government of former President Samuel Kanyon Doe for a major security institution as the Ministry of National Defense (now hosted permanently at the Barclay Training Center), and that it would still make no difference for it to be used as a national security complex.
The presence of these institutions-the Ministerial Complex and Ministry of Justice et al, on Peace Island and mainland Congo Town would also further stimulate the anxiety of the Ellen Administration for a major link with Somalia Drive to add more beauty to the capital, as well as reduce the un-necessary traffic congestion in Monrovia and its environs.
As we make this wake-up call for the Liberian Government to lively up itself on this US$60m Chinese-sponsored Ministerial Complex, we can only hope and pray that we all-government and people, understand the issue abide for an acceptable compromise in the interest of national growth and development. But again, the Government of Liberia must take the first by heeding to this wake-up call as the best way possible to acquire the site (Peace Island) for the construction of the Ministerial Complex, since it has no intension to do it outside of Monrovia.