When news broke out about three weeks ago that the Liberia Maritime Authority (LMA) was suspending its laudable Beach and Waterways Cleaning Project around the capital city, we immediately published an editorial appealing to the government of Liberia (GOL) to find whatever emergency funds it could to rescue the project. The editorial was in response to a cry by West Point Commissioner, Madam Miata Flowers, who feared the outbreak of cholera, diarrhea, malaria, typhoid and other communicable diseases that would be the immediate result of indiscriminate defecation and garbage throwing on these beaches and waterways.
In its editorial, the Daily Observer urged the Liberian government to give the children in these communities—South Beach, West Point, Clara Town, Popoe Beach, Point Four, New Kru Town, etc.—at least a clean environment if nothing more, for Christmas. Yes, the government and other institutions had been busy planning Christmas parties for children throughout greater Monrovia; but we had heard of nothing for the impoverished children in these slum communities, whose parents are mostly self employed petty traders.
Our December 23 back page story on Commissioner Flowers’ cry, followed by an editorial calling for urgent GOL intervention, claimed the immediate attention of Police Inspector General Chris Massaquoi, who the following day was seen in West Point, with shovel in hand along with other police officers, cleaning the beaches.
In our very next issue, which appeared on Monday, December 30, we commended the Police Chief on his initiative and went further to appeal to the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) to join forces with the Police not only to clean up the beaches but also to engage Liberian soldiers in other civil works, including road building and maintenance and agriculture.
In our very next issue of Tuesday, New Year’s Eve, our banner headline on the back page pronounced that the President of Liberia, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, had finally heeded the urgent call to rescue the LMA’s Beach and Waterways Cleaning Project. The story said the President had found the money and the LMA project would resume immediately!
The people in these deprived slum communities were understandably relieved, and said so.
Today we add our voice to that expression of appreciation to the Liberian leader for LISTENING to the cry of her people, especially the small people.
We pray that GOL will find the means to make this vital project sustainable.
Now the big “and.” We add two things more to this plea: first, that the GOL will move forward to establish a Tourism Authority, headed by a competent, honest, effective and patriotic Liberian who, at long last, would organize tourism in Liberia and make the best use of our immense tourism potential, including our beaches and waterways.
Our second plea to the President is that in the New Year she should outline a comprehensive plan for economic revival in Liberia.
Why do we make this call? We make it because businesspeople in every sector tell us that they are SUFFERING. There is no business! In one sector, for example, road building, we are told that contractors are about to go on strike because they have not been paid for work done in the recent past. This will deal a direct blow to the President, who has made road building and other infrastructural development among her top second term priorities.
But the small traders, too, have been crying, suggesting that this past Christmas was among the worst in recent years.
We humbly suggest that the President, in her forthcoming Annual Message, should outline a comprehensive economic revitalization plan to stimulate the economy.
Remember, as we said in a recent editorial, the government is that one institution that is capable of lifting all boats.
Ellen is an experienced economist, banker and financial expert. We know she knows what to do. Just go ahead, Madam President, and do it.