A number of houses were locked up in Clara Town, one of the slum communities in Monrovia on Thursday for what the Commissioner says is due to poor sanitation.
Commissioner Beatrice Williams on Thursday, ordered nursing mothers, pregnant women and handicap outside and locked their houses, crying out poor sanitation issues.
Bathrooms constructed between houses in some parts of the community are said to be posing serious health risks for residents, while waste from areas do not flow easily into the drainages due to huge pile of dirt, which clog the drainage system.
But Commissioner Williams’ alleged action to lock the residents’ homes arbitrarily for several hours has been condemned by the affected persons and some community leaders who spoke to this paper on Thursday, 14 March.
A text message and multiple phone calls to Madam Williams have not been answered since Thursday, 14 March up to the time of this publication.
An affected resident of the community Mrs. Mateneman Kamara laments that Commissioner Williams did not lock the bathrooms that had the problem, but she chose to lock their entire house from the morning hours up to the time of this interview on Thursday at 3PM.
Mrs. Kamara who nurses a young baby complains of so much inconveniences she suffered as a result of Commissioner Williams’ action.
In a hurry to grab important things out of the room while under police and Commissioner Williams’ pressure, Mrs. Kamara explains that she could not even get her nursing daughter’s food and other necessities for the kid before the house was locked up.
“It affected me … and my family because since day break today see me, I [have not eaten] yet; I’m hungry now …, my money, I left it inside,” Mrs. Kamara says in the interview.
“My baby (have) not eaten, her food inside because I was rushing. They [were] just rushing people. [I had on] night gown, I got to rush to take this cloth from the dirty cloth basket to [wear it], she says further.
Mrs. Kamara’s rented house and the three houses belonging to a community leader, Rev. Elijah Johnson and other nearby houses that had similar sanitation problems were locked up by the commissioner.
Rev. Elijah Johnson, a township councilman complains that the food he was preparing for his contractors who were working on his Church spoiled after being locked up the commissioner.
“The food on the fire, she locked the door,” he said, and accuses Commissioner Williams of taking the law into her own hands.
Rev. Johnson confirms that his three houses were locked up by the commissioner.Some of the affected women, mostly nursing baby mothers have narrated similar ordeals.
Grace Tarlue and Tenneh Dickson who both live in one of the affected houses say they are nursing babies but they went for hours without feeding them because everything was locked up.
Grace says she did not have the opportunity to get essential things outside, even including water.she complains that she dropped US$20.00 at her room door while rushing outside under police pressure, but she didn’t know who took the money.
As for Tenneh, she explains that she had to borrow clothes to wear, after Commissioner Williams locked their house and ordered that they would not enter there for two days.
According to another affected resident, student Zannah Turay, Commissioner Williams threatened to take them to the police station if they attempted entering their houses that were locked.
“She says the place was dirty, she didn’t tell anybody to pay money (fine), but she only says she will lock the place,” Zannah says.
In an interview with one of the township’s Councilman Mr. Varney Kiawu, he confirms the incident, and promised to engage the commissioner on why she closed the homes.
Mr. Kiawu argues that the best approach would have been the closure of the bathrooms and placing of fines against the residents, but not the locking of their houses.
Mr. Kiawu says it is beyond his imagination that a leader would force baby mothers, pregnant women and handicap out and lock their homes.
“The community leaders must be given their responsibility to carry on the community matter and report to the commissioner, instead of taking the community matter and adding it on the commissioner’s job,” Mr. Kiawu adds.
He observes that the Commissioner went beyond her duty, saying the community leaders were not consulted in this case.This paper observes, however that late in the afternoon hours, some personnel from the Commissioner’s office returned to open doors that they had earlier locked.
By Winston W. Parley