By David A. Yates and Robin Dopoe
More than 100 participants, including county officials and representatives of local authorities, yesterday, June 20, gathered in Margibi County to witness the launch of an US$8 million rural housing project by President George Weah.
The initiative, which will be implemented by the Liberia Agency for Community Empowerment (LACE), named and styled “Special Presidential Pro-Poor Housing Unit Project,” targeting 568 housing units across the 15 political sub-divisions.
It will also be funded partially by the Weah-led administrations in partnership with the Japanese Government in said amount.
President Weah said the project is part of his vision to cater to the well-being of rural Liberians who have been neglected for years by providing them affordable and decent housing units.
He expressed the hope that the rural housing project will bring joy and happiness to the vast majority of Liberians who have been dwelling in outdated huts in different parts of the country, and reemphasized his determination to bring development to the country.
“It hurts me a lot to see my people in this 21st century still living in mud houses and for this reason, I’m going to do everything humanly possible to change that situation — which is part of the promise I made to them,” the President said.
“I believe in actions, not words; and I can assure you that this project will be implemented successfully. I was born in poverty and know what it means for others to live in poverty; so under my administration I’m going to do everything possible to improve the lives of every Liberian and this is what the pro-poor agenda is about.”
He said the housing project will be at no cost to the citizens and will be constructed and given to them free of charge. “I believe that the coming of this project will change the face of our communities and make it look beautiful.
Meanwhile, although the project is expected to kick-start in President Weah’s home of Sasstown, Grand Kru County, he assured Liberians that all the 15 political sub-divisions will benefit from the project, stressing: “This is my promise to them.”
He said: “I lived in Sasstown from 1975 to 1979; I never had the opportunity to live in decent house. Today, in this 21st Century, I see that my parents, the people and my friends are still living the hut life. Now, we are in a modern era; it is time to change that.”
“This is the Pro-Poor we talk about; it is meant for everyone to be served – the rich, the poor and the middle-class. There will be affordable housing for our people, but this one is to lift our people from poverty to sustainable development,” the Liberian leader assured.
President Weah acknowledged that there would be criticisms of the project, but said he remains focused to do what he promised the Liberian people.
He stressed: “170 years, we continue to criticize and nothing changed; those who are criticizing should go ahead; no matter what you say, I will do what I am elected to do for the people of Liberia”.
He thanked the Liberia Agency for Community Empowerment (LACE) for constructing a Prototype of the rural housing unit, and for embracing the project in the interest of the people in remote villages.
He also urged LACE to speed-up with the Project and to ensure that it is durable.
The rural housing project coincides with an ambitious nation-wide roads construction and pavement projects the President Weah-led government has embarked upon to ease traveling impediments and enhance trade and economic activities.
Earlier, LACE executive director Quiwu Yeke, said the construction of the housing unit will be at no cost to Liberians in the rural areas.
“These villages will be built for free by President Weah as a way of identifying with his people in the rural part of this country,” Yeke said.
Mr. Yeke further said that the housing project also aims to ensure the achievement of economic justice by making the initial 282 units low cost houses available to persons that are vulnerable, starting with President Weah’s home town, Saastown, Grand Kru County.