The long awaited relocation of the people of the Township of West Point will finally begin next week, the government of Liberia has disclosed. The exercise will begin with those whose homes were recently destroyed by sea erosion.
They will be relocated to a site in the Voice of America (VOA) community in Brewerville along the Bomi Highway.
During a visit to the township yesterday President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf met the residents, including victims of the disaster, and told them that they will not be relocated at the same time, but gradually.
President Sirleaf lauded those who have identified with the victims, including philanthropists, politicians and government officials, since the disaster struck.
She noted that the government wants to do something about the entire West Point Township, but it has to be in phases, “We must be able to move somewhere else that is far from the sea, but we will do it small, small,” she said.
She also lauded the victims for the level of patience exercised since the unfortunate situation. “Despite it all you have been very patient and waiting on us to find remedy to this situation,” she said, adding, “This climate change thing is the cause of this level of erosion that we are seeing. This is not only happening in Liberia, but all over the world. The sea is moving and taking land and we must begin to think how to solve this problem.”
She disclosed that the residents, beginning next week, will be relocated to a place that is being constructed by the National Housing Authority (NHA) in collaboration with some ministries and agencies of government.
NHA Deputy Managing Director for Administration, Prince Wreh, said the relocation will begin with the victims of the recent disaster into temporary homes and thereafter to permanent homes being constructed by the National Housing Authority.
He noted that about 1,399 families have registered with the NHA for voluntary relocation. “Early next week, we will bring the big, big buses here to take some of you to the new place, so we want you to get yourselves prepared,” Prince said.
Several homes, most of them zinc shacks, were recently swallowed by the sea in the township, rendering many resident homeless. Some of them were sleeping on the beaches, while others were taken in by friends and relatives.
The people of West Point recently met with President Sirleaf and told her they were now living at the mercy of God as the sea was destroying their homes and turning them into captives of their own habitat. They called for government’s prompt intervention.
Several government officials were part of the visit. They included Ministers of Information, Education; Gender, Children and Social Protection; Monrovia City Mayor; and Montserrado County Superintendent.
The President also donated several bags of rice and L$30,000 to the victims
West Point is the largest slum community in the country and is infamous for entrenched poverty and high levels of crime. It gained global news headlines during the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak when it was violently quarantined.
It was the scene of a chaotic protest during which a teenager was shot in the leg by an officer of the Armed Forces of Liberia who were ordered to enforce the quarantine of the township. The teen later bled to death after he was refused treatment at various health facilities, including the nation’s largest referral hospital—the John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK) Memorial Hospital.