President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf says residents of the Township of West Point should start to think where else they can go, emphasizing the need to “move somewhere else and start something better” to avoid being made homeless again by the rising sea.
“So, that means you must begin to start to think where else you can go because we can’t continue to live the same way we used to live before. You got to be able to be ready to change. To be able to move somewhere else and start something better where again the sea will not [affect you],” she said on Wednesday, 11 May during a visit with homeless residents in the congested township.
During President Sirleaf’s visit yesterday, Liberia’s National Housing Authority or NHA said it has commenced the process to start relocating about 1,779 families from West Point by next week to a new location behind the VOA Community of Virginia in Montserrado County, following recent erosion that made them homeless.
But President Sirleaf reminded the residents that the problem with the sea here results from what is called climate change – something she said “we” cannot change. “That one that God’s work. All over the world the seas are moving up. The seas [are] getting stronger and getting bigger. And the sea is moving and taking land from all over. It’s not just West Point. All over Liberia, all over, the same problem happens” she said.
President Sirleaf, who gave rice, money and other soup kinds to the homeless residents, also thanked local government officials in the township who have stood by the victims after the incident, as well as others in the community who have personally been able to reach out to the affected families to offer them some help.
She also appreciated the patience, peaceful and disciplined conduct exhibited by the West Pointers despite being made homeless by erosion while awaiting government’s intervention. According to the President, the people of West Point will be relocated gradually, starting with the families who have lost their homes because relocating the entire West Point will take government some time.
“So, for now, we just came to identify with you, to let you know that our hearts are with you. To let you know that we feel sorrow for you,” President Sirleaf said as she received hands of applause from the audience in the Madam Ella Musu Coleman Administration Building inside West Point.
Residents, including children, lined up along the narrow street of West Point yesterday as President Sirleaf and her officials drove through the town in convoy. NHA’s Deputy Managing Director for Administration Mr. Prince Wureh said about 1,779 families, who “voluntarily signed a petition” seeking relocation, will be repatriated to a new location behind the VOA Community of Virginia in Montserrado County.
The NHA said the process has commenced to start relocating the affected residents in tent facilities being built as temporary homes with support from the United Nations, while the government is expected to erect permanent structures that are expected to shelter them.
He told residents of West Point at the township’s administration building where President Sirleaf concluded her visit that what the government is doing is temporary to take some people quickly so that other homes are not swept away by the sea.
He said hopefully next week, big buses will pick up affected persons from the West Point Township to their new temporary home behind VOA, amid loud cheers from the jubilant residents.
By Winston W. Parley