As social conflict becomes a “bygone” phenomenon despite existing challenges, another problem is on the rise with no attention paid to it – our environment. Natural disasters continue to occur in sequence, one of which is the situation at D. Twe High School in New Kru Town. This is not the first time we have alerted government on the D. Twe issue, but as much as we report and write editorials on it, the more inattentive government gets. Are our leaders telling us that they are ignorant to the plight of the citizens they vowed to protect? This school accommodates hundreds of Liberian students and has graduated thousands others who have become notable citizens in the country; yet sea erosion is threatening this public asset and there is no attention paid to it.
The D. Twe High School issue has not been the only environmental problem in recent days. It may be recalled that a report came from Nimba late April detailing a storm disaster that hit many towns and villages, destroying properties. Storms also hit some parts of Montserrado leaving many buildings damaged. These instances are occurring not necessarily because storm disaster is natural; it is the result of a poorly managed environment without regulations. Why do we connect it to a poorly managed environment? Trees play a key role in the protection of human habitats from heavy gusts of wind and storms.
Nowadays people are engaged in cutting down the forest for firewood or charcoal, pit sawing and commercial logging. An environmentalist posited that “Forest degradation results owing to decrease in tree cover, the biodiversity in the forests or the changes to a lower state of the forest structure. Degradation refers to damage or reduction in quality of certain features of the forests. Continued degradation of the forests can destroy the entire forest cover and biodiversity, and it mainly occurs because of environmental and anthropogenic changes.” Besides forest degradation, beach sand mining has over the years increased to the extent that many communities in Monrovia are threatened by encroachment of the Atlantic Ocean on their properties.
Amid this event, the public is yet to feel the impacts of the Ministry of Lands, Mines & Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in terms of law enforcement to curtail this practice. Why would these two government functionairies that have direct oversight of the environment sit and see all this happening without any action? Meanwhile, there are other common practices that government is failing to regulate through enforcement of polices. For instance, the emergence of water companies has increased the spread of plastic bags, so much so that some are dumped into drainages and on the streets. Again, this does not only make the environment unpleasant to the eyes, but blocks drainages and causes the soil to lose its fertility. Clogged drainages resulting from plastic wastes and other trash cause flood disasters in Monrovia almost every year. Of course we see sanitation workers of the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC) regularly sweeping plastics and other waste material from the streets, but the failure of government to regulate and enforce policy to [at least] raise awareness contributes to the habit people have of making their own environments unsafe.
It is our hope that concerns raised will claim the attention of relevant institutions to make decisions that will significantly impact on the environment as it is becoming overwhelmed by disaster. We also hope that, as the people of New Kru Town have made another appeal, government will see reason to respond to this emergency issue confronting D. Twe High School as photographs of sea erosion clearly show how deeply the building is being undermined. Blocking sea waves with rocks and penalizing sand miners will be some impactful steps that can address the situation. Since this incident is occurring in New Kru Town and residents there are the most affected by erosion, let community dwellers and alumni of D. Twe innovatively explore some avenues through which they can gather resources to help address the situation.