At least, the nearly 1,900 workers of the Beach and Waterways Project saw their expectation shattered after President Sirleaf’s one-week’s appeal to settle some of their four-month arrears failed to materialize.
And the only word fit to describe the workers’ disappointment is: frustration.
“I cannot believe that four months will go by and we are yet to receive any pay,” a 45-year-old mother told the Daily Observer during a follow-up visit to West Point Beach last Saturday.
The woman, who had worked on the project for the last five years, added, “The letter from the President made us to feel that at long last all would be fine,” which did not happen.
During a tour of the beaches that are included in the Waterways Project, the Daily Observer encountered workers who were so worried about their future.
At the New Kru Town Beach, the workers told the this paper that since President Sirleaf’s letter assuring them of paying some of their arrears has not materialized, “We don’t know what to do.”
The minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Edward B. McClain, Jr., in a letter dated April 23, 2014, appealed to the workers to “be a little bit more patient and give us a week…to make settlement of a portion of the arrears.”
“It is a little over a week, and we have not heard any information from the president’s office. This is very troubling,” the workers’ spokesman said.
A presidential source told the Daily Observer Monday that President Sirleaf is concerned about the arrears’ payment. As such, she was reportedly making “frantic efforts” to settle “some” of the arrears.
However, what is disturbing is, “the silence from authorities concerned,” particularly those who initiated the Beaches & Waterways Project to reclaim Liberian beaches from neglect.
The project is part of government’s effort to boost tourism, gravely affected during the years of war.
The Beaches & Waterways Project, according to interviews conducted in New Kru Town and West Point, has helped the communities to avoid many diseases that could have claimed lives, particularly of children.
“Today our beaches are more beautiful and we now go there with our families,” said a resident of New Kru Town.
Many inhabitants told this reporter that the project has ensured that residents in the various communities recognize their contributions to keep the beaches healthy as they are now.
“In any case,” said a disgruntled worker, “paying us is one way to encourage those of us who work at the beaches.”
The Beaches & Waterways project includes those in New Kru Town, West Point, Mamba Point and ELWA, with a total of nearly 1,900 workers, including students.