Residents of the Parker Paint Community have held protest outside President George Manneh Weah’s office, seeking his intervention to suspend their eviction today, 15 January by property owner Philip Parker.
More than 5,000 family heads are said to be at risk of being affected by the eviction exercise, according to local authorities from the community. Parker Paint is a community in Paynesville, closer to the Redlight General Market.Madam Lorpu Kolleh, a resident of the Parker Paint Community, speaking on behalf of the protesters Monday, 14 January told journalists outside President Weah’s office that they want the President to talk to Mr. Parker to delay their eviction because their children are currently in school.
According to Lorpu, Mr. Parker gave them the land to squat there for so many years and while there they have established families and their children are in school this year.She says she has been on Mr. Parker’s land for 17 years, but for those she met there, she cannot say how many years some of them have inhabited the land as squatters.
According to Lorpu, Mr. Parker gave them notice in December 2018, informing them to leave because the eviction will take effect on 15 January.She says they have paid money for their children’s school, complaining that evicting them now will put them in a bad position because they have nowhere to go.“But now it’s getting serious. Even the building he had there, he’s taking off some roof …,” she laments.According to Lorpu, they have begged Parker, but this time he refuses to give them additional time.
She says their District Representative and the Community Chairman have been trying to intervene, but their intervention has not changed Mr. Parker’s decision to carry out his planned eviction.She expresses fears that if they sit without doing something, Mr. Parker might move in today, 15 January with yellow machines to break down their homes.
“But we’re appealing to him, we are not fighting him. We beg him,” Lorpu concludes.In a follow up with Mr. Philip Parker via mobile phone Monday, 14 January, he told this paper that the community dwellers had earlier told him that they would be prepared to leave his property within 30 days whenever he was ready for it.
He says based on his need now, he served them a notice in December because he had made them aware that he was about to start a work.Mr. Parker explains that he has taken money from somebody for some work to be done on the property, with two lots on the front view being of priority at this moment.
He tells this paper in the interview that it’s time that squatters leave the property because some of them have benefited from it by renting out rooms, running video clubs and have even built properties at different locations where they could relocate.
“All that one we saw, we didn’t have any problem with it because we didn’t have a need, but now … we have a financial need and things have not been so good,” he says.Earlier on Monday, Mr. John E. Tommy, the Political Officer in the office of Montserrado County District #3 Rep. Ceebee C.D. Barshell said his boss and the community chair have been in talks with Mr. Parker on his plan to evict the residents.
He says while the authorities have been appealing to Mr. Parker, the residents thought to also seek President Weah’s intervention by assembling outside his office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.Mr. Tommy notes that more than 5,000 family heads are due to be affected, and they are appealing for Mr. Parker to extend the eviction time to six months considering their children’s school issue as well.“We are talking about more than 5,000 family heads, it’s a big community. The Parker Paint Community is a big community by itself,” says Mr. Tommy.