By Varney K. Sirleaf & Alva M. Wolokolie from Tubmanburg & Gbopolu
With barely two months to Liberia’s 166th Independence Day celebration, Tubmanburg, the main host city of this year’s celebration is still lagging behind in terms of infrastructural development.
Some of the citizens of Tubmanburg who spoke to The INQUIRER said since the demolition exercise carried out by the Ministry of Public Works last year with the intention of expanding the major streets; nothing has been done on the roads in the city to date.
Others expressed frustration over the delay of projects earmarked by the county and central government for the pending celebration. “As you can see the main streets, the Ministry of Public Works just came here and destroyed our properties and left us with the ugly street,” one of the citizens who chose to remain anonymous said.
A prominent citizen of the county, Radio Bomi Manager, Zinnah Cassell said that 16 of the 18 projects that were earmarked by the county and central government are already in place. He named some of them as the Superintendent Compound, the Klay Guest House, the Cooper Town Bridge and the Maternity Center at Golodee Lasanna amongst others.
The County Radio Station Manager expressed frustration over the manner in which the Ministry of Finance has delayed in releasing funding for the projects and also stated that the delay in appointing a new Mayor for the city is contributing immensely to the squalidity of the city.
When the Superintendent was contacted, he said that the issue of the road and electricity are solely central government’s projects for the July 26 celebration.
Superintendent Brown also expressed frustration over the delay in rehabilitating the principal streets in the city by Public Works since the demolition exercise last year. He further stated that the County Council has decided to find an alternative by hiring a private company to rehabilitate the streets before the celebration.
“We took a private company to assess the streets on Friday, and the LEC will also go to Tubmanburg on Monday to start the process of electrifying the city,” Supt. Brown explained.
He said there will be absolutely no pavement of roads, but stated that they will be expanded especially the road from the Total Filling Station to the Administrative Building.
He concluded by saying all other projects that are directly under the supervision of the county are all on track and hopes that they will be completed soon for onward dedication during the July 26 celebration.
For his part, the Co-Chair person of the July 26 Celebration, former Rep. Tarnue H. Cooper said that the delay in releasing funding has been the major hindrance to a smooth preparation. Mr. Cooper further stated that funding from both the County and Social Development funds are not forthcoming.
Meanwhile, the Acting Mayor of the City of Tubmanburg, Mr. Abraham Kumeh, has blamed the lack of support to the City Council for the filthiness of the city. He said that the office of the Mayor is working hard to mobilize young men and women in the city for a clean-up campaign to give a face-lift to the city.
The Acting Mayor explained that his office has contacted some organizations to help provide public latrines in the city for the celebration. Mr. Kumeh attributed the lack of support to the council to the delay in appointing a new mayor by the President.
It can be recalled that the Independence Day celebration was last year cancelled from western Liberia and brought to Monrovia.
Meanwhile, one of the counties selected to host this year’s July 26 Independence celebration is now beating its chest for at least witnessing the construction of streets and the planting of light poles in the city.
Gbarpolu County with its capital named Bopolu City is one of the newest political sub-divisions of the country created by an Act of the Legislature during the regime of former President Charles G. Taylor. The county is rich in gold, diamond and logs. It has a rich farm land for agricultural purposes that could contribute to the socio-economic growth and development of the country.
Our reporter who visited the county observed that there were series of work ongoing in the city and its environs but some at a snail-pace.
From what is ongoing in Gbarpolu, one may suggest that perhaps President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf must be in the forefront of the activities learning from experiences of past celebrations in Lofa, Nimba, Bong and other counties in which the construction of roads, bridges, electrification, water and sanitation were far from finishing to the day of the celebration.
From an independent analysis, progress is being made on the opening and rehabilitation of streets while electricity poles have already been planted. The Presidential Palace or Guest House construction is still at ground level but Supt. Allen Gbowee is optimistic that the work will continue this week to meet up with the scheduled time.
Supt. Gbowee disclosed that the sport stadium, administrative building in Gbarma, a school on Belle Yealla Road, a parboiled rice project named P4P with support from WFP, a resource center are expected to be dedicated upon completion by the President before or on the day of the event.
Other projects to be dedicated include; the guest house, the Ministry of Finance cash center, a sub-office of the Ministry of Postal Affairs and the newly constructed and completed Court House waiting and ready to function.
For the electricity of Bopolu City, a group contracted to do the work, Universal Construction Company has assured him that the wiring will begin this week to have the entire city electrified.
As for the streets, he said a Liberian company named Renewal Liberia Limited Inc. (RELL) has started the second phase of the rehabilitation of several streets by placing curvet mainly in places considered as swamp lands.
Supt. Gbowee said the various development initiatives are being sponsored by funds provided from the county social development funds. According to him, an estimated amount of over US$600,000 has been targeted to support the projects in the county.
In view of the slow rate at which the projects are ongoing in the county, many citizens have pledged their unflinching support to making sure that the works are fast tracked for the successful hosting of the celebration. The hardworking people along the towns of Weasua, Sawmill, Gbarma, including Bopolu City are over excited about the celebrations expected to take place and have reportedly begun employing traditional methods to community development in show-casing their productiveness there at months ahead.