By Victor C. Hanson, Jr.
The Government of Liberia (GOL) through the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) has decided to relocate the Palm Grove Cemetery that is widely known as “Center Street Graveyard.”
Addressing the regular press briefing at the Ministry of Information, Cultural & and Tourism yesterday, Internal Affairs Minister, Morris Dukuly said, in the 60s Monrovia was a small town with a scanty population.
He further said the dead’s were honored and buried on every Sunday and now that the city has a very huge population and the place can no longer be kept sacred because people are removing the dead from their graves and making them their abodes.
Minister Dukuly said the Palm Grove Cemetery has become a criminal- hideout where tombs are being used as bedrooms with children being born there and inhabited by their husbands and wives.
“I sent a team from the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) to the Cemetery where they saw skulls everywhere especially during this year’s Decoration Day, families were disappointed over the abominable act by those who are using the Cemetery for residence, and what really touched me was a lady who went to decorate her father’s grave and noticed that her father’s remains was removed and that the grave was sold to another family”, Minister Dukuly disclosed.
Minister Dukuly said that the plan for the relocation of the Cemetery is a government’s decision noting that such a decision is an emotional exercise but he disclosed that the Government of Liberia (GOL) met with stakeholders because people would not want to see their dead loved ones being removed unless they are part of the decision.
Minister Dukuly said the government is working endlessly to have a new cemetery located by next Decoration Day where families and friends would go to have time with the dead family members and loved ones as it usually happens in the country during decoration’s time.
Mr. Dukuly said it is not just the Palm Grove that GOL is relocating and noted that in the past there had been some concerns about the Mandingo Grave Yard. Minister Dukuly disclosed that he has talked with Islamic leaders, scholars and the Mandingo Grave Yard is also under consideration for relocation.
He said government has decided to modernize graveyards in the country as it is in other advanced country where there would be benches and graves would be in order with securities monitoring those cemeteries. He said through foreign partnership the government will build all of these facilities.
The Internal Affairs Minister said a team will be trained to manage those cemeteries along with security officers so that it cannot get desecrated.
He then urged all families who have their dead at the Palm Grove Cemetery to work with the government to remove their dead. He is also encouraging the family members to go to the Monrovia City Hall to meet with the Mayor and do the paper work that may be required.