The US$4 Million Demolition: An Economic and Political Tragedy

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It was Samuel Doe that started the construction of the new
Defense Ministry building in Congo Town. It was rumored, yet to be proven, that it had an underground access to the Atlantic Ocean. If true, why? Heaven knows.

There is one thing we are thankful for. Doe neither ignored nor tore down the National Sports Complex on the ELWA Road. Yes, he overthrew and killed President Tolbert, but he knew that this Chinese gift to Liberia was an invaluable asset that needed to be maintained because it helped enhance the nation’s sports and athletics program, most especially football.

But the same Samuel Doe had other thoughts of the Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS) complex near the same ELWA Junction. It was from there that he had broadcast to the Liberian people and the world on April 12, 1980 that he had overthrown the True Whig Party government of Liberia because of “rampant corruption and the failure to manage the affairs of the Liberian people.”

Later, Doe decided he did not want that facility used by LBS, because it had been built by the TWP! So, under the watch of his LBS Managing Director, Olivia Shannon, Doe decided to build a new broadcasting house further up in Paynesville, less than a quarter mile to the left of the Cocoa Cola Factory.

At the time, the Daily Observer warned that it might be difficult to broadcast from that site because it was too close to the powerful Omega Satellite Tower. But they went ahead with the structure anyway, reaching three stories of solid concrete. Then, Japanese experts told the government that there would be too much interference from the Omega Tower, and that broadcasting from that site would be next to impossible. That was when the GOL abandoned the structure, on which by that time they had spent nearly US$2 million, if not more.

For a country that constantly goes hat in hand seeking foreign aid for nearly everything, including food, health—the new, modern ELWA Hospital being the latest—and education—US$65 million needed for the Bridge International School outsourcing project—how can our government afford to spend money like that?

The latest is the demolition of this solid concrete National Defense structure, built by excellent builders—the Israelis, who also built the Ducor Intercontinental Hotel, the Treasury Department (now Finance Ministry) and the Executive Mansion. All of these buildings are still standing, over a half century later.

We feel deeply saddened by this decision by the present administration to demolish this solid Defense structure. Why did that building have to go? Was it only to satisfy the Chinese? Or to spite Samuel Doe?

We prefer to think that neither is the case. Surely, the frugal Chinese know better than to have demanded that that solid concrete structure, costing a staggering US$4 million or more, should be torn down at a cost of US$4 million. We strongly believe the Chinese know better. Nor do we think that despite her differences with all Liberian leaders, from Tubman to Taylor, the current President would go so far as to destroy anything her predecessors erected. Were that the case, it would reinforce people’s perception that the E.J. Roye has not been renovated because it was built by the TWP.

Yes, this demolition makes us very, very sad. For the Daily Observer and many others begged the administration NOT to do it. Why hasn’t Ellen listened to us? Oh Power! When one gets power should it mean that one should listen to NO one? Well, thank God for Jesus, who listened to Blind Bartimaeus, to the 10 lepers, to the woman with blood disease. Had he not listened and heard them, they never would have been healed, and He would have denied Himself three strong miracles fundamental to His legacy.

The Daily Observer has long pleaded with the government to put the Ministerial Complex in Buzzy Quarter. Now that they have decided to replace the Defense structure with the Ministerial Complex, we seriously wonder whether the government has thought about the traffic from Congo Town, Paynesville, Careysburg, Kakata, the interior and Robertsfield Highway.

It is our considered opinion that this demolition is an economic and political tragedy. We earnestly hope and pray that it goes no further than that.

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