Liberia: Ganta Faces Another Demolition Exercise



— Affecting  those squatting on the right of way

Business people in Ganta, especially those with business centers along the Ganta - Saclepea road, are faced with another round of demolition from the Ministry of Public Works for squatting on the right of way.

The Ministry of Public Works has been carrying the announcement on the local radio stations across Nimba, warning those who are in the habit of squatting to desist, up until Monday, December 23, 2023, when the Ministry began serving notices to the encroachers to leave.

Upon the first demolition of properties that were on the right about two years ago, some of those whose properties were paid for returned and began constructing new business centers on the same spot without the concern of the Ministry of Public Works, the authorities said.

The demolition, when implemented, will affect many newly constructed business centers along the way, causing setbacks for many in this economically challenged season.

Frank W. Morris, who sells used shoes, feels very disenchanted over Public Works' actions, adding that the first marking took away his porch and he was paid about US$1,360. However, the new marking went further into his apartment, which has turned out really bad for him.

Even though Morris expressed dissatisfaction over the marking and called on the government to reconsider its decision, his close neighbor, Annie Ramore, doesn't mind because, as she put it, the demolition is geared toward development.

"My porch went in the first exercise, and the government paid for it, and this new marking went deeper into my apartment, and I am waiting to see how much the government will pay," she said.

"The Public Works told us that any property they paid for before will not be paid for again, but any new one that was not paid for and is now in the right away, will be considered in the next payment scheme after the Ministry's appraisal team carries on their works.

Several notable businesses along the road that were marked include the West African Enterprise (a cold storage facility), the Standard Garage, the Good Will Group of Investment, Ma Bee Business Center, and others.

"I am not angry with any demolition because it is part of development," said the proprietor of Good Will Group of Investment.

Anthony G. Paye, Director of Resettlement at the Ministry of Public Works, said the Ministry is in Ganta to carry on demolition of structures that are on the right away, which had been paid for and the owners are yet to relocate.

"Our main focus right now is to demolish properties that were paid for but the owners have yet to move," he said.

According to him, they understood that some of the people whose properties were earlier demolished and paid for were still coming back to the same place. For this, he said the ministry will be consulted and a decision will be made.

According to the Ministry of Public Works Zoning Law, all properties are supposed to be at least 50 feet from the center of the main road, but most of the property owners are yet to abide by these rules.

In Liberia, zoning laws are yet to be respected by the citizens because of a lack of education and sometimes blatant disregard, with the insinuation that development remains a distant promise.

Sometimes people build their houses and allow water from their roofs to fall into other people's yards; while others deliberately build in alleys or without taking into consideration the demarcation and distance from the yard to the alley or street.

According to the City Mayor, Amos Suah, those who are rebuilding new projects or building houses near the road are doing so without the concern of the Ministry of Public Works so as to be guided in identifying the right of way and other technical aspects.

"All those buildings you are seeing on the street, the owners did not notify us or receive our permits, [not even from] the Public Works resident engineer," said the Acting City Mayor.

The citizens have previously complained about the width of the newly constructed road from Ganta to Saclepea, describing it as being small and the drainages not covering every sloping part of the road, but the technicians said the road construction is up to international standards.

However, a 73yr old man, Anthony Kpoo of Yarsonnon, blew an alarm over the failure of the road contractor, CICO, to remove the old bridge near his town, describing the bridge as too old and unsafe to be rehabilitated.

Mr. Kpoo said the bridge is far older than him and that it has cracks under it, but he has not seen any sign that it will be replaced.

Instead, they see the engineers increasing the size of the structure and adding new pillars.