What many residents in the borough of New Kru Town say could be the final countdown to the destruction of the D. Twe Memorial High School is underway as waves from the raging sea continue to carve away the narrow earth remaining behind the school building.
Meanwhile a pile of boulders (huge rocks) intended to build up the school’s coastal defense sits unused on the school compound.
Interviews with residents on Bushrod Island reveal that they have appealed to the government and its partners to “urgently move in to protect” the only government high school in the community.
After they were deposited near the palava hut on the D. Twe Sports field, the pile of rocks is yet to be put in place to prevent the waves from gaining ground on the school building.
A resident at the nearby Colonel West Community, Erica Wesseh, said the violent way in which the waves are pounding the coastal side of the school means urgent intervention is needed if the school is to be saved.
“The rains are coming and we should be thinking fast to ensure that the waves are stopped,” she said. “We cannot wait any longer.”
Old man Isaac Weah told the Daily Observer, “We did not act fast enough in the past to stop the sea and so if we want to save the school, then we must act now.”
Many people interviewed expressed a similar opinion that the Liberian Government must act fast to save the school. It may be recalled that several months ago, members of a Local Project Appraisal Committee announced that it had secured US$2 million from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to build a coastal defense in New Kru Town (NKT).
The committee members included representatives of the Ministries of Lands, Mines and Energy (MLME), Public Works, Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), civil society organizations and the Forestry Development Authority (FDA).
At a meeting held under the theme, “Enhancing Resilience of Montserrado County Vulnerable Coastal Areas to Climate Change Risks,” the participants agreed that although erosion has affected areas like Hotel Africa, West Point, JFK Hospital and New Kru Town, the Liberian government should direct US$2 million to the NKT coastal defense project.
After considering the project’s relevance, feasibility, cost effectiveness, sustainability and risk analysis, the committee concluded that reinforcing the NKT project would also protect the Freeport of Monrovia and the Redemption Hospital.
Mrs. Tanneh G. Brunson, the Deputy Minister of MFDP said, “It is a fact that climate change has been identified as one of the leading environmental crises of the 21st century. The situation on the coasts of Buchanan and West Point, and particularly the JFK and D. Twe High School are clear examples which require our collective efforts to adopt and mitigate the effects of the situation.”
Deputy Education Minister for Administration, Aagon F. Tingban, said in a radio report that the government was concerned about erosion in the various communities, including the D. Twe High School.
He assured the public that D. Twe was part of the government’s emergency efforts to save the coastal areas.
Also at the meeting was EPA Executive Director Anyaa Vohiri, who challenged the participants to ensure that the funds were used to fight the scourge of erosion, “that has threatened to swallow up the D. Twe High School.”
“Everyone must pay keen attention and be responsible to ensure that the money is used for the intended purpose,” she said.
Following the meeting, work immediately began and trucks appeared with loads of huge rocks along with crushed rocks at the school compound.
Representative Edward Forh (Montserrado District #16) said at an honoring program recently that it was through his efforts the rocks were brought to the school’s campus in the first phase and the second phase would be the building of the coastal defense, he added.
Meanwhile, Forh’s office was not available to comment on what is responsible for the delay in building the coastal defense for the school and the D. Twe High School administration does not seem to know either.
An official spokesman for the school told the Daily Observer to contact the Ministry of Education, but Deputy Minister Tingba was not available for comments and our calls to him were not returned.
The D. Twe Memorial High School was built in1975 in honor of President William Richard Tolbert (Richard Tolbert High School), but was renamed D. Twe Memorial High School following the 1980 coup in memory of Didwho Welleh Twe (1879-1961). He was an indigenous presidential candidate in 1952.
Twe was one of the individuals responsible for the League of Nations’ investigation of President Charles D. B. King’s Administration for its involvement in forced labor practices in Liberia. This action by Twe and others led to the resignations of President King and his Vice President Allen Yancy.