On The Freeway In Gardnersville: Demolition Fear Grips Several Residents

By Garmonyou Wilson

The demolition fear which had gripped several citizens currently residing at the Liberia Industrial Park on the Somalia Drive in Gardnersville, located on the Petroleum Refinery Company (LPRC) Road in Gardnerville is expected to be demolished by the Ministry of Public Works (MPW) based upon a request from the National Investment Commission (NIC).     According to a notice to vacate issued by the Ministry of Public Works, the residents were asked to remove all illegal structures from within the confines of the real property of the Industrial Park of the Republic of Liberia, on or before June 5, 2015. The notice further said, “Your current occupancy of the Industrial Park is in violation of the Zoning and Land Use Classification Laws of Liberia.”

The notice warned residents further, “If you choose to stay after the receipt of this notice, your removal will be assisted by the Liberia National Police within full extent of the law.”

Yesterday, some of the residents of the area were seen in Monrovia holding placards some of which read “Mama Ellen Please do not demolish our houses” while at the same time they sought the intervention of the National Legislature.

An INQUIRER team that visited the area on the Somalia Drive and spoke with several residents in the community said that the residents were told to vacate months back. The team also gathered information that the residents were also compensated by the Government of Liberia (GOL) in a bid to move their structures from around the LPRC fence as a major investment was to shortly come to that part of the community.

The demolition which is expected to take place this weekend has caught many residents off guard as they are not prepared to vacate. In this regard, they are currently searching for redress while the rainy season has also added to their unpreparedness.

However, other residents said the time frame given by the government to the squatters was sufficient and no one should have problem vacating the areas that were marked several times.

Other reports suggest that a major investor is to take over the property, a reason for which the NIC is requesting for the demolition exercise.

The issue has also hit the social media with many people calling for the government to go ahead with its planned demolition.

One person on the popular social media site, Facebook wrote,“We all have friends or family living on that property.I believe by law the government is right but by common sense. Please GOL you have to build an estate somewhere that can house these people. When you construct such an estate, you can now ask the LPRC residents and those residing on the government property to move in the apartments of the estate after paying an amount.This amount should not also be another way of displacing the poor dwellers.Thereare some decent structures on that property; evaluate the cost and use that as a means of housing the residents in the estate that could be built.

Another person said, “In the first place, you were not supposed to build there. You are not the one to tell Government what project to undertake. The best you can do is to plead with Government and stop playing politics which will not help you.”

Others on the contrary said, “Firstly, let us take into consideration as to how Monrovia got overcrowded.     Government is under obligation to provide alternative homes for these people or compensate them. Note, we will not always experience war or other civil unrest to bring about this kind of situation.”And another responder added, “We have lot of bushes let Ellen develop them.”

An investigation conducted by this paper attested that the Liberian government did compensate many of the illegal occupants. However many paid deaf ears to the calls by government to move and now government’s time frame for the expected development of the land is imminent.

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