The Construction of the Ministerial Complex: The Urgency for a Decision Now
Following stiff opposition in 2012 by citizens of previous 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, very little is heard nowadays about the construction of the Ministerial Complex for which the demolition was intended.
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-something which triggered the outcry and Supreme Court’s intervention, through Human Rights Lawyer T. Dempster Brown.
Since then and the pronouncement by an official of the Information Ministry during one of its weekly press briefing last year that a technical committee comprising the Ministries of Lands, Mines and Energy, Public Works and Information was assiduously working toward a new site for the construction, the project may appear mow to be in oblivion without update.
With the consent of its Parliament, the Government of the People’s Republic of China approved a US$60m grant for the construction of the Ministerial Complex to host at least ten ministries and agencies of the Liberian Government. Whether or not we attribute the delay to fear or embarrassment on the part of the Government of Liberia to secure a site to jump-start the project, a decision now on this matter at this very beginning of 2013 is paramount before it gets too late.
Such decision must still include consideration for the Peace Island Community which many believe, is an ideal location for the construction of such Ministerial Complex. In so doing, the issue of compensation and resettlement of residents of the Island must be at the core of any consideration. With the acknowledgement by residents of the community that the land was given to them by the Government of Liberia without deeds, there is still a workable future for the construction project, which we do believe, would be a beautifying venture for the capital, Monrovia.
If possible, the US$4m ear-marked earlier for the demolition of the incomplete new Defense Ministry building could be used to compensate and resettle residents of the Community devoid of all of the un-necessary “technicalities”-an approach, we believe, the Peace Island Community dwellers would welcome and appreciate. If the technical committee means well for such national undertaking, it would advise the President of Liberia on this approach, beginning with a policy of constructive engagement with residents of the Community.
Regarding the incomplete bullet-proof new Defense Ministry complex, it would be foolhardy to even think about recommending its demolition; since its intended purpose was for national security, it could, then, be transformed for use by the Ministry of Justice. The Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization and the National Fire Service to rescue government from high and inflated rental costs of private building housing these institutions.
With the construction of the Ministerial Complex on Peace Island and transformation of the incomplete new Defense ministry complex, another boulevard would then be done to link Tubman Boulevard with the Jacob Town side of Somalia drive for officials and employees of national institutions to be housed in the Ministerial Complex and proposed Justice Ministry Complex (incomplete new Defense Ministry).
We can only hope that the Government of Liberia will break its conspicuous silence on the issue of the construction of the Ministerial Complex with a determined site in mind (preferably Peace Island) as a way of encouraging the Government of the People’s Republic of China for the release of the US$60m for the construction project.
It is no secret that the presence of the Justice Ministry in the Incomplete Defense Ministry building in Congo Town and Ministerial complex on Peace Island will decongest traffic, stimulate punctuality for government workers, as well as add beauty to the city.