Minister Gyude Moore and Plastic Bags

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We must first thank President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for her innovative initiative of surrounding herself in the Executive Mansion with a number of youthful Liberian professionals—mostly under 40—who are well educated, patriotic, serious minded and, above all, people of integrity.

One of such persons is Harper, Maryland-born Gyude Moore, a product of Our Lady of Fatima Elementary, Cape Palmas High and George Washington University, Washington, D.C.

In bold pursuit of her vision to encourage and involve young people in government, the President appointed young Gyude Moore as Public Works Minister. Though not an engineer, he has tackled his new assignment with foresight and vigor. He is determined to leave a legacy at Public Works and, in the process, help in the construct for his President also.

He is determined that Public Works will seriously monitor and supervise the ongoing road construction throughout the country. For this, two international engineering firms have been engaged to supervise the roads from Paynesville Red Light to Gbarnga and from Gbarnga to Ganta.

The roads from Ganta to Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County and the rest of the southeast, as well as the road from Gbarnga to Kolahun and those through Bomi, Gbarpolu and Grand Cape Mount counties and on to Vahun, Lofa County, will also be monitored and supervised by expert engineers.

The Minister told Daily Observer reporters on Tuesday that in addition to careful and thorough supervision, all road contractors will be paid “on the basis of performance,” and that 10% of each final installment will be held for a year to ensure complete satisfaction with the job, before being released.

In addition, the two Chinese contractors building the roads from Red Light to Gbarnga and from Gbarnga to Ganta and beyond will be responsible for maintenance of these roads for an extended period, to ensure their long-term durability.

We hope that the supervising firms will be as tough as Maryland Resident Highway Engineer Gabriel Johnson Tucker, who branded a pistol against contractors paving Harper streets after they tried to bribe him to cut corners on the project. Thanks to young Tucker’s integrity and patriotism, we understand that the Harper streets are still intact, since they were concrete-paved in the early 1960s!

The engineers supervising the current road construction must be as tough as Tucker, in order to ensure that these new roads will stand the test of time and be in excellent condition for decades to come. We further hope that after the road building contractors shall have left, Public Works will ensure that these roads are constantly maintained.

The new PW Minister is also keen on zoning. He insists that from hence forth the Ministry will strictly enforce zoning, and that those unscrupulous Liberians who deliberately build in the path of streets, alleys and drainages WILL be removed, along with their constructions. Those who built on property belonging to the Monrovia Industrial Park already know that their days are numbered. Minister Gyude Moore has one philosophy in that connection: “Development is expensive. Those who have traveled abroad and appreciated and admired other countries’ development, when they return, must be prepared to make the sacrifices necessary to make the same development happen in Liberia.”

It is Gyude Moore’s concern about drainages, especially those in Monrovia, that provoked this Editorial. He is terribly upset with gross misuse and abuse of our drainages throughout Monrovia and its environs. “They are dumping dirt into these drainages and, in the process, endangering their own welfare,” he said, “because when the drainages are clogged, the water that is supposed to enter the drainages cannot, so it enters their homes, destroys their belongings and renders them homeless.”

But what concerns Minister Moore most is the proliferation of plastic bags in these drainages that cannot be destroyed. This makes the cleaning of these drainages particularly difficult.

Minister Moore is so concerned about the plastic bag problem that though he did not say it, we would not be surprised if one day he recommends to the President the banning of plastic bags in Liberia.

Remember, that is what President Paul Kagame has done in Rwanda. He has “BANNED” plastic bags because “they are not biodegradable,” which means you cannot get rid of them. Partly for this reason, Kigale is one of Africa’s cleanest cities.

Can the Liberian government conceive of such a drastic solution to our perennial sanitation problems?

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