Ganta City Mayor, Amos N.G. Suah, has complained that some elders in Ganta are obstructing the utilization of the newly dedicated Ganta Market. The new market was dedicated late last year by President George Weah after taking several years to complete. Marketers using this new market ground will probably free the current area used for daily transaction and the government will decide what to do there as it was declared eminent domain in 2010 by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf during the celebration of the Independence Day in Nimba.
Mayor Suah told reporters that the elders are demanding to take ownership of the rest the market ground that is yet to be developed.
According to him, the elders are contending that since the government was unable to develop the entire land, the rest of the land should be returned to them to turn it over to anyone wishing to do business there.
He explained that sometimes ago, the elders through their spokesperson, Nathan Suah, went to his (Suah) office demanding him to sign a document that will grant them the right to begin utilizing or leasing the portion of land surrounding the market building.
“When they brought the document to me, I asked them to give me a copy for review, but they insisted that I should sign and I refused,” he said.
The newly dedicated market building was built on 5 acres of land situated in the Deakemein Community in Ganta.
This particular parcel of land was first used secret poro society shrineuntil 2013 when it was given by the elders to be used for the construction of the market after it had left in the middle of the city with houses surrounding it.
The initial design/blueprint for market carries playground, daycare school, mini clinic, mini bank and a warehouse, something Mayor Suah said the elders were counting on to demand for areas that are vacant since those buildings expected to be there are not.
He quoted them saying that the land was given for the purpose of constructing modern market inclusive of all the facilities listed above, but since these facilities cannot be seen, the balance portion of the land should be given back to them.
When contacted, the spokesperson, Nathan Suah confirmed the decision of the elders to demand for portion of the market ground, adding that the place was given to the community the same way their ancestors gave places for schools, hospitals and even the LPMC terminal, now LACRA facility. “In the same way those portions of land were given freely to people so is the market ground, and we can claim it in the same way if it is not utilized.”
“We were moved by the blueprint we saw, but since these facilities are not available, we want our balance portions of land to lease it to anyone for the benefit of children,” Mr. Nathan said.
“If these facilities were built, there will be more job benefits for us and our children, but since the facilities are not available, we want the remaining portion of land,” he said angrily.
Mr. Nathan Suah observed that there have been some illegal constructions ongoing on the land, blaming some authorities he could not name.
“Some authorities are involved in selling the remaining portion of the land and the foundations are all around the market building, something we will not permit,” he said.
He added that some local authorities have equally been involved in selling public land in Ganta, especially the old Commissioner Compound used by the Bangladeshi peacekeeping contigent, the LPMC Compound and other public places, something he said they are suspecting to take place on the new market ground.
Meanwhile, during the dedication on December 2, 2020, the Director of the Liberia Agency for Community Empowerment (LACE), Mr. Quiwu Yeke put the cost of the project at US$ 250, 000, but it is not clear whether this expenditure covers the cost from the beginning of the project under the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Administration.
Many facilities earmarked to be attached to the market including warehouse, mini bank, daycare-school and a playground are not there yet. President Weah during the dedication ceremony said the project was an old project that they managed to complete. He, however, ordered LACE to ensure the warehouse is constructed. Since the dedication of the market in December 2020, it is yet to be used.