In her commencement address at Tubman University last week, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf called that institution “a magnet” in southeastern Liberia. It is.
The people of the southeast, those in Maryland County included, themselves said as much—or even more. Speaking to our Presidential Correspondent William Harmon, who covered that university’s first commencement in Harper, Cape Palmas last week, the Marylanders said that for too long their children, after high school, had to find their way to Monrovia, over 300 miles away, to seek higher education. Today, thanks to the creation of Tubman University, the students in southeastern Liberia no longer have to take the trek to Monrovia. They can seek higher education right in Harper, a far shorter distance from anywhere in the southeast.
During her visit to Harper last week, the President touched the hearts of Marylanders when she visited the flood victims and presented them relief supplies. But she made a far greater impression upon them when, in an extraordinary way, she offered them permanently relocation to dry land, in Jacksonville, near Harper, where each family be given “a deed for their own land.”
Marylanders expressed their appreciation in glowing terms. We hope that government will ensure that the land in Jacksonville is properly laid out, and that the National Housing Authority is contacted to become involved in placing standard low-cost housing in the area to give the development some modernity and uniformity. It would be Maryland’s first low-income housing facility and that, too, would be a magnet.
The truly more glittering magnet would be the electrification of the southeast, which Lands Mines and Energy Minister Patrick Sendolo told this newspaper yesterday is on stream to materialize within days or weeks. Electricity from La Cote d’Ivoire through Tabou to Harper and Pleebo, on to Fish Town in River Gee, will light up these cities; and we are sure that Grand Cess and other parts Grand Kru will also benefit from this new energy dispensation.
The electrical magnet will be felt in Toe Town on the northeastern border with La Cote d’Ivoire, which will send electricity through this town on to Zwedru and elsewhere to light up Grand Gedeh County and extend lights to Tapita, other parts of Nimba, and on to Bong and Lofa counties.
Minister Sendolo has indicated that for the first time in our history, four major power plants are being constructed at one time—the Mount Coffee Hydro, and three heavy fuel oil plants, with a combined capacity of 118 megawatts.
Another magnet that will extraordinarily magnify the southeast is the paved highway from Zwedru to Greenville, Sinoe County, which by agreement the Putu Mines have committed themselves to build. This highway would not only make travel through the southeast easier; it would open the door to tourism in that region and expose to Liberians and to the world the wonderful gems that lay within the southeastern rainforests, especially the Sapo National Park.
Minister Sendolo says the feasibility and design for this highway are already underway.
There is then the Zwedru-Greenville railway, to convey the putu iron ore to the port near Greenville for shipment to world markets. As we said in an earlier editorial, we hope that this railway will have a passenger component to it, further to ease transport in that region.
When the Hummingbird Mining operation introduces industrial gold mining in Grand Gedeh this will spell another magnet in the southeast, bringing new technology and jobs.
But probably the biggest magnet of all in the southeast is the coming into operation, by 2016, of the Putu mining operations, that will hopefully transform the county into a business hub.
We pray that the Liberian Business Association (LIBA) will encourage Liberians to invest in shopping centers and supermarkets there, and make the Putu impact truly felt among the local people.
There is, finally, yet another southeastern magnet in Sinoe County, where Golden Veroleum (GV) is set to begin production of palm oil on a large scale. This will create more jobs and hopefully bring to Liberia some value added products which the company has promised, such as cooking oil, etc.
Southeastern Liberia, the long neglected part of our country, is set for a dramatic take off. All of us should eagerly look forward to this and join southeasterners in making the best use of these great opportunities for the advancement of our country.