Pragmatic ways to clean Monrovia’s Sanitation Mess

A focused leadership needed & all hands on deck

By Frank Sainworla, Jr,

In recent days, the Liberian capital, Monrovia has been in the news for the wrong reason—whether or not it is one of the “dirtiest” cities around the world.

The alarming sanitation crisis that Monrovia and other communities in Liberia face can be resolved by no one else other than ourselves—citizens and residents.

Denial of the reality will not do, as was recently seen with the knee-jerk reaction to the European Union (EU) Ambassador to Liberia, Laurent Delahousse’s assertion about dirtiness of Monrovia against the backdrop of tens of millions of Euros and United States dollars international donor partners have invested into solid waste management here.

But cleaning the sanitation mess requires the resolve of everyone to clean the sanitation mess, with political leadership that is focused and committed to doing the right thing by instituting the right measures in line with the laws and city ordinances. Even the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Bohfal Chambers, whose Capitol Building complex has made headline news in the local media for the filthiness of the bathrooms and generally poor sanitary condition for a protracted period; Dr. Bohfal Chambers described the EU diplomat’s assertion as “irresponsible”.

Time and again, when there is a national crisis, our leaders tend to look for scapegoats or pay lip service to reform the laws/regulations; without being committed to transforming the situation through scrupulous implementation of existing laws, regulations already on the books. Transformation can only be realized if there is a serious commitment to implementing existing generally good policies/regulations.

Because cleaning the sanitation mess is a collective responsibility, this is why the decision by the Monrovia City government to constitute a Citizens Engagement Board is a welcomed development. A statement by the Monrovia City Corporation said the 14-member Ad hoc ‘Citizen Engagement Board is to formulate a policy toward maintaining and promoting hygiene and sanitation, within the Liberian capital.’

Pragmatic way out of the sanitation mess

As a patriotic Liberian citizen, who believes in constructive criticisms colored by advancing a pragmatic way out, this writer therefore advances ten (10)recommendations aimed at keeping the Liberian society clean and hygienic daily not occasionally or periodically, as the newly appointed citizens Board is commissioned:

Robust/strict enforcement of city ordinances or laws, after a period of heightened public and civic education;

Community residents must-see city cleanliness and sanitation as a way of life, regular/daily exercise—not an event or seasonal;

Garbage collection and disposal is not free-people must own it and be willing and ready to pay minimum fees to ensure proper and professional waste management, and community people should subscribe to existing Community Based Enterprises (CBEs);

Enforcement of sanitation and hygiene measures must start from the homes to the neighborhood and communities and the city;

Institute practical and workable garbage collection and disposal system must be put in place and sustained, and violators of city ordinances must be penalized irrespective of who is involved (NO RESPECTOR OF PERSONS);

Institute guidelines for market and businesses—cleaning and disposal schedule; stipulated penalties for violation of guidelines;

Clearly identifying the various stakeholders and duty bearers in central Monrovia (the commercial hub) & their roles and responsibilities, as central Monrovia is like a microcosm—people who live there, people who do business there, people who reside there, and people who both reside and do business there;

Putting into focus and clearly understanding the demographics of central Monrovia as regards producing of garbage/solid waste—the micro and macro levels

Start in earnest from our garbage-ridden cemeteries

Recently, it was very difficult for this writer and Journalist to dispute the utterance made by the EU envoy on the miserable nature of Monrovia’s sanitation. Even as a patriot of my beloved country, Liberia, the reality makes it rather extremely difficult to challenge with one’s head up high. This assertion may have been “undiplomatic” but he was brutally frank amidst the sad reality.

Here is why. Some two weeks before that controversial utterance, this writer had published a piece about how the uncontrollable sanitary problem was even having a serious toll on the resting places of our dead compatriots—cemeteries, many of which have turned into a dumpsite. Desecration Of Our Cemeteries Continues Unabated! – News Public Trust

A graveyard, where our dead loved ones—relatives and friends—are buried, the article said, should be a place of serenity and tidiness.

But shamefully in our Liberian setting, the filth and stench in two of our major cemeteries in Monrovia and Paynesville bring tears to one’s eyes when visiting these burial grounds. Is this how their “final resting place” should be desecrated?

The defilement of the main Palm Grove Cemetery on Center and Gurley Streets in central Monrovia, which has been turned into a dumpsite, has now been extended to the Paynesville Cemetery in the Duport Road suburb of Monrovia.

For this society, such a sad spectacle appears to be the norm. But for people from many other societies, it is despicable. This is how the Duport Road Cemetery looks, as captured by the camera lens of a friend and brother (Christopher Johns) who accompanied me to this area late this week.

In fact, this graveyard hosting the bodies of hundreds of our compatriots has been in this deplorable state for a protracted period now. So heart-wrenching isn’t it!!

Indeed, it’s hard time to act now. And welcome to the Citizens Board Engagement Board.


The New Dawn is Liberia’s Truly Independent Newspaper Published by Searchlight Communications Inc. Established on November 16, 2009, with its first hard copy publication on January 22, 2010. The office is located on UN Drive in Monrovia Liberia. The New Dawn is bilingual (both English & French).
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