Is there an emergency fund anywhere in the government of Liberia? Should there be one, we know of nothing more urgent than reinstating the Beach and Waterways Project of the Liberia Maritime Authority (LMA).
Why the urgency? Christmas is here. What treat shall we give the tens of thousands of our children living in West Point, Clara Town, Point Four, Popo Beach, New Kru Town and South Beach? Is it going to be lots of good food, new clothing and footwear, toys and other goodies? Or is it going to be, by woeful contrast, renewed defecation and the indiscriminate throwing of trash on these beaches, inviting swarms of flies, rats and roaches to make the children sick?
If nothing is done, and done immediately, the flies, rats and roaches will poison our children’s Christmas and their general wellbeing for the foreseeable future. Instead of giving them a good time, they will get sick with cholera, diarrhea and malaria, brought on by these deadly disease carriers.
It was on behalf of these tens of thousands of children in these beach communities that we heard yesterday on our back page, the cry of West Point Commissioner Miatta Flowers. She told our Senior Reporter, Omari Jackson, that she was worried that if the LMA Beach and Waterways Project were not restored, the children and general populations of these areas would suffer the deadly consequences.
All of us and our government should remember that the people we are talking about are among the most vulnerable in the society. They are poor and deprived, since the vast majority of their parents are either self-employed petty traders or not employed at all. When the Man whose birthday we celebrate tomorrow uttered these words, “The kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these,” Christ was talking precisely about the children of South Beach, West Point, Clara Town, Point Four, Popo Beach, New Kru Town and all the nation’s slum and other impoverished communities.
So in all our last minute shopping and other preparations for this most important holiday, Christmas, let us remember these children and do whatever we can to rescue them from this totally unnecessary but deadly malaise.
What can we do? What can anyone do? Pick up our cell phones and call someone who cares or should care and who is able to do something about the problem. Pick up ourselves and go find someone who can make the difference. Finance Minister Amara Konneh has left the country. So the next best person to call, visit or engage is the President herself, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Persuade her to get her lieutenants to find the money from somewhere to restore the LMA’s Beach and Waterways Project.
If we do nothing else for these children, let us do this one. It is not just about giving them a good Christmas; it is about saving lives by saving our environment.
Let us remember, too, that in most of our neighboring countries, Sierra Leone, La Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia and Senegal, the people are using their beaches to bring in thousands of tourists throughout the year to spend their money and provide jobs for the local populations.
Let us begin this Christmas by injecting some pride in ourselves by making our beaches a playground for our children and our people in general. This commitment to protect and make good uses of our beaches will pave the way for the development of the tourist industry in Liberia.
There have been talks of the creation of a National Tourism Authority, an autonomous body that will organize tourism in Liberia. This is necessary since the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism (MICAT) has failed to do anything about tourism—or culture or even information itself.
Let us in Liberia finally realize that tourism is a money maker and a job creator. Let the development of our tourist industry be a New Year resolution that will be taken seriously and forcefully implemented.