The People's Republic of China has been very generous to Liberia. They built and later rehabilitated the S.K.D Sports Complex; they resumed and completed the new Health and Social Welfare Ministry Building.
They have given US$10 million to revamp and expand the Monrovia Vocational Training Center (MVTC). In the biggest assistance initiative of all, they have pledged US$60 million to build a ministerial complex to house the government's ministries. But this important project has been stalled because of the quarrel over location. That, believe it or not, relates directly to the theme of this editorial–the cost of dependency.
What do we mean?
The Chinese insist on visibility and the Liberian government seems to want to please this totally unnecessary wish. Monrovia is a relatively small city, where nothing can hide. First, they wanted the complex built at ELWA compound right on the Robertsfield Highway. Because of the controversy that it provoked, the government started leaning to the most logical and suitable place for the complex, the Buzzi Quarter area, which is next to the center of power—the Legislature, Executive Mansion and the Temple of Justice. The people there said they welcomed the ministerial complex in their area and were willing to be relocated. No, the government changed again, saying they wanted to locate the complex at Peace Island. But the thousands who reside there, mostly non-combatants and their families, say they are not moving anywhere.
Why the government feels it has to answer to whatever the Chinese want beats most Liberians; but GOL feels that this is part of the cost of dependency, forgetting that we are a sovereign nation and those who want to help us should do so on our terms, not their own. But dependency often breeds subservience, though it does not have to be that way.
Another tangible indication of the cost of subservience is the attitude of the Chinese in Liberia. Many of them feel they can do anything here and get away with it. Many are involved in petty trading, which should be the exclusive preserve of Liberians.
Last week en route to Sinoe, the President herself saw Chinese gold miners preparing for mining operations, even though they had not yet secured a license for that. They were even mining sand in the Cestos River, undermining the free flow of the river and endangering the structure of the Cestos Bridge.
President Sirleaf was incensed by this and ordered an immediate halt to the Chinese operations. She was gentle with them; she could have ordered their arrest, since they were violating the law, for which country can one enter and start mining gold without first obtaining an official permit to do so?
But this is part of the cost of dependency. Some Chinese feel that because their country is helping Liberia, they can come here and do anything and get away with it.
That is why Liberians should work harder at everything they do, be more creative, more patriotic and strive to make our country stronger and more self-reliant.