Nearly 1,800 contract workers of the Liberia Maritime Authority Beaches and Waterways Project have begun receiving three months arrears out of the eight months owed them.
According to a Liberia Maritime Authority official, contract workers in Trowin, Florida, Lagoon, (all in New Kru Town), have already been paid for three months.
“We began the exercise on March 10, paying nearly 400 contract workers in Mamba Point, PHP, Randall Street, BTC and Gurley Street,” he explained.
The exercise will continue with the payment of workers in Funday, Colonel West, Popo Beach and Security Officers.
He noted that the pay team will pay 350 workers in the ELWA area, before returning to West Point, to pay nearly 500 contract workers there.
The Daily Observer learned that the outstanding five months will be paid at a later but unspecified date, when the Liberian government, through the Ministry of Finance, provides the money.
But several contract workers interviewed about the remaining five months arrears expressed disappointment.
“I don’t think the five months arrears will be paid soon,” a contract worker responded. “It is not the first time such a promise has been made and was never fulfilled.”
Others said the perennial delay in their pay is a source of frustration and claimed that it has hurt President Sirleaf’s policy to empower young people and the unemployed in slum communities in Monrovia as part of her poverty reduction strategy.
Mamie Thompson, 28, a single mother of four told the Daily Observer, “The delay in our pay made me unable to register my children and we are hoping that the rest of the money can come as we’ve been told.”
She appealed to President Sirleaf to make their monthly payment a priority, “because this is the only income we depend on to take ourselves from poverty.”
Patricia Reeves, 32, also a mother four said, “I know President Sirleaf is aware of the difficulties we go through as single parents and this must encourage her to authorize the Ministry of Finance to make our monthly pay regular.”
The Beaches and Waterways Project, launched in 2005 by the Liberia Maritime Authority, was meant to empower residents of the poorer communities, an LMA source said.
But the project, which was originally to fall under a department of tourism, stayed with the LMA till, as a source said, funds ran dry and it recently became necessary for the project to be discontinued.
“But it was President Sirleaf who insisted that the project must continue,” a contract worker said and an LMA official confirmed.
He said, “The project has helped beaches in Monrovia to have a new image. The project ensures that no one abuses the beaches, including those in New Kru Town, West Point, ELWA, PHP and others and at the same time it provides a source of income to ease poverty.”
Another contract worker added, “It is this part that should concern the government for while our beaches are clean, sicknesses are minimized and contract workers are able to take care of their families, which makes President Sirleaf’s legacy worthwhile.”