In one of the Liberian government’s most impressive moves, the Liberia Maritime Authority and other related agencies joined together to reclaim the beaches and waterways of communities around Monrovia. The project got underway in 2010 and despite many challenges it has been able to sustain nearly 1,900 Liberians in the slum communities where it was established.
Today, the beaches in New Kru Town, West Point, ELWA and Mamba Point are visited by families and their healthy environments provide children with places to enjoy their weekends.
The effort to reclaim those beaches came at a high cost. All things considered, the continuation of the project is one of the most effective means to develop areas of interest to boost the tourism industry as well as empower Liberians from the lower rungs of society’s ladder.
That brings me to my recent visit to the Blue Lake in Tubmanburg, Bomi County (Sunday, April 27). Driving through Tubmanburg on a Sunday afternoon, smiling faces of Bomi County residents greeted us, and just a short time later, we meandered towards the location of the once popular Blue Lake. Though Tubmanburg is a city crying for development, for there were broken-down homes and mud houses visible here and there, the people seemed contented of their lot. The road from Monrovia to Tubmanburg was direct and in good condition; with the exception of some pot holes that we found from time to time that are crying for attention.
We moved from the TOTAL Gas Station in the center of the city and our vehicle crawled towards our destination, passing by the former Police Barracks. The large tract of land was being guarded by a couple of police officers, who sat lazily at their post. The road to Blue Lake was rough, and due to how low our vehicle was, Jonathan Armah Baxter thought it wise to avoid any potential damage to the vehicle.
Therefore, I joined the accompanying bus with members of the APM Terminals Limited soccer team. In about four minutes, our bus arrived on the hill and to our right I saw the beautiful landscape of the Blue Lake below. Beyond it, overlooking the lake were three dilapidated structures that residents said were used to manage the lake before the civil-war.
Out of the bus, we strolled down to the lake, and met four young men who said they were the caretakers of the Blue Lake. The men were Kaffa MacKay, Ezekiel Jacob, Mohammed Sow and Johnson Brown.
Mackay said, “Many people come to see the lake, and there is a boat that they take them across the lake.” The trip, he said, cost US$5 for non-Liberians and if they are Liberians, “They pay L$50 and sometimes L$100 per trip. Visitors don’t visit the lake like before,” he said.
The caretakers said though they are not paid monthly, “We are paid after we collect money from visitors.”
The beautiful landscape, with its green surroundings, impressed several of the footballers who wondered if the city’s authorities have any future plan to develop the Blue Lake to benefit the city
Though many of the footballers expressed surprise over the poor conditions surrounding the Lake, the fact that there were four caretakers present during our visit indicated that Tubmanburg city has plans for its development.
But the surprise was that the Liberian civil-war, which has been the reason for many lapses in infrastructural development, was once again the reason I learned, Tubmanburg and its interested areas have been left to rot since 2006.
But the most shocking news is that Bomi County is the home of President Ellen Johnson- Sirleaf and House Speaker Alex Tyler, two of the county’s leading citizens whose influence should be enough to promote the county’s development.
The lack of infrastructure and what seemed like deliberate neglect of the city does not speak well of our leaders who have their origins in Tubmanburg. That also brings about the question of the so-called County Development Fund and how much is used to revive Tubmanburg, a city that once hosted the Liberian Mining Company, (LMC) that earned millions of US dollars from the bowels of Tubmanburg.
That legacy speaks volumes of the apathy that many Liberians have shown towards their counties of origin and act as an example of the lack of interest some have in the places of their birth.
Jonathan Armah Baxter expressed disgust with a county that produced many soccer stars like Albert Nah, Mark Fino, Armah Baxter, Pete Roberts, Morris George, Raymond Godfrey to name a few; yet, can no longer uphold the legacy of its history.