US$2.5M Needed for Urgent Coastal Defense Works

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The Chairman of Senate Committee on Lands, Mines, Energy, Natural Resources and Environment, Grand Kru County Senator Albert Chie, has reechoed recently recommended findings to plenary that a minimum annual appropriation of US$2.5 million is needed in the National Budget for Coastal Defense Works.

Senator Chie’s statement was contained in a report dated April 24, in which he recounted the findings from an investigation conducted by his committee and the Ministry of Public Works & Rural Development on the devastating effects of sea erosion on coastal infrastructure in Montserrado, Grand Bassa, Sinoe and other coastal counties.

The committee’s report highlighted what Senator Chie described as “the precarious situation that still persists in Buchanan due to uncompleted coastal defense works, the threat sea erosion poses to the J. F. K Memorial Hospital in Sinkor, the gradual disappearance of the D. Twe High School in New Kru Town, the perennial submergence of West Point, Hotel Africa and now Greenville, Sinoe County.”

In the course of the committee’s investigation of the sea erosion situation, Senator Chie informed plenary that the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Ministry of Public Works indicated that “they have completed the relevant baseline studies and assessments and have the requisite know-how and manpower to contain the coastal erosion situation using mostly local materials.”

Senator Chie also disclosed that those government agencies started a pilot coastal defense project in Buchanan and expressed the urgent necessity to replicate that along the most vulnerable coastal areas. “While some funds could be available under the United Nations Climate Change adaptation program for erosion related work, the government is always expected to carry out its own program and also provide some matching funds.”

It was in this regard, asserted Senator Chie, that “the committee recommended to Plenary a minimum annual appropriation of US$2.5 million in the National Budget for coastal defense works, and the Plenary unanimously endorsed this recommendation on July 16, 2015, and mandated its Committee on Ways, Means, Finance and Budget to include this amount, under the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy or the EPA, in the 2015/2016 National Budget. Unfortunately, this was not done and no erosion control work has taken place.”

Concluding, the Grand Kru lawmaker pleaded with his colleagues that as the budget formulation process for 2016/2017 is under way, “I wish to draw the attention of Plenary to the serious threat of sea erosion to our very existence and to request the reinforcement of its previous mandate to the Committee on Ways, Means, Finance and Budget.”

The Senate voted to turn over the report to the committee as requested and mandated it to give consideration to the allotment.

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