Has Water and Sewer No Vision or Expertise?

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Everyone knows that Charles Allen is no water engineer. He is a banker who for many years served the Liberian Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI).

But he wanted this job – Managing Director of the Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC). When about three years ago a vacancy for that position occurred he applied, believing that he had had enough of banking and wanted to serve his country in another way.

The President, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, obliged and appointed Mr. Allen LWSC M.D.

But like most of the other heads of that corporation, Mr. Allen has done little to fix the flooding problems in Monrovia. Every Rainy Season floods occur all over Monrovia, even in places where given a little expertise in water management, the problem could be solved. Yet year in, year out, the problems recur and things remain the same.

Take Mr. Allen’s boss’ own neighborhood, the first Old road Junction in Sinkor. Every time it rains the area gets flooded and nobody seems to know what to do about it – certainly not Water and Sewer.

Yes, Mr. Allen is no water engineer, but he is surrounded by them, or should be. Why can’t he send them to fix the President’s neighborhood permanently? Are there no culverts in Monrovia? Is there truly no one in the nation’s capital with the expertise to fix that problem? If LWSC is technically incapacitated to deal with that simple problem, why can’t LWSC or its boss seek foreign help?

Just over a month ago, a large Dutch delegation was here to discuss with the Liberian government a wide range of development issues.

Did Mr. Allen know about their coming? Does he know that the Dutch are among the world’s leading experts in Water Management?

Why didn’t he liaise with the delegation’s chief host, Commerce Minister Axel Addy, to discuss with members of the delegation, among whom were indeed water management experts, Monrovia’s many water problems?

Or is the problem simply that there is little or no coordination in this government? Then why do all the cabinet members plus all the Managing Directors show up at each cabinet meeting – just to see the President’s face?

Did the full cabinet, which the LWSC’s Charles Allen most likely attended, not know of the coming of the Dutch delegation? What development strategies were discussed in cabinet in preparation for that visit?

This is why this newspaper has perennially lamented that we Liberians are not a serious people. You mean the Dutch come here and no one tells them about the flooding and erosion problems in West Point, New Kru Town, Clara Town the rear of the John F. Kennedy Medical Center?

Just last Tuesday our water and sanitation reporter, Edwin Fayia, in his story, “Floods Hit Monrovia Again,” wrote for just about the thousandth time about the many people, most of them poor and destitute, who have been made homeless after floods engulfed their communities.

Among the areas reporter Fayia named were the A.B. Tolbert Road, the Pipe Line Road and the Coca Cola Factory community, all in Paynesville; and of course, the President’s neighborhood at the Tubman Boulevard-Old Road Junction in Sinkor.

On the Pipe Line Road, even the Liberia Electricity Sub-station was badly flooded as was a nearby Police Station. Among the many victims was a 55 year-old woman and her five children, who were rendered homeless by the floods.

Why must these floods afflict our people year after year in these identical areas as though Water and Sewer is paralyzed? Can’t the Corporation ask the Ministry of Lands and Mines and Energy to lend them a hydrological engineer to help LWSC deal with the city’s water problems?

What about LWSC”s own hydrological engineers? Or have they none? If they have none, no wonder the LWSC behaves as though it is in a perpetual state of paralysis. Allen has been at Water and Sewer for three years. What kind of scholarship program has he initiated? If he has, are any of the beneficiaries studying hydrological engineering?

We pray that Allen and LWSC will meet and make a determined effort to ensure – to tell themselves and the Liberian people that during the next rainy season, Monrovians are not going to experience the same flooding they have had to endure this year and so many years before.

Let the LWSC management tell themselves and the Liberian people that LWSC will do its utmost to solve decisively the city’s flooding problems and that these problems will not recur in 2016.

We understand that the World Bank and other foreign friends are pumping money into LWSC. For once, let LWSC show that the money generated from its own resources from the Liberian Gov’t and from abroad will be used for the purposes intended, which means not for salaries staff benefits and travel money, but for the improvement of the country’s water sector. This means providing clean and safe Pipe-borne water throughout the country.

It also means managing the nation’s water, including the water from our rivers, creeks, swamps, drainages and gutters.

Let Liberia be flood free next year! Can LWSC promise us that!

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