By Atty Philip N. Wesseh (PNW) On Monday, while en route to work, I had the opportunity of listening to an official of Nimba County on the demolition exercise taking place in the commercial city of Ganta for the road construction project and also to give the city, which is strategically located, a better look. What impressed me as I listened to the recording is that residents with front views have been asked to build certain kind of structures for the beauty of the city.
As usually done in this country, the efforts of the Ganta city government to beautify the city is being politicized in some quarters with the usual thing of “poor people” and “poverty” for which some of the land owners may not have the financial resources to build such structures as required by the Ganta City authority. Therefore, some are arguing that this will be unfair to those residents who do not have the means to carry on the construction of “storey-building.”
I am told that there is a zoning law in this country on the issue of the kinds of structures to be built in certain areas. Unfortunately, because we, as a government and people failed to adhere to these laws relating to front views and environment, these laws have been unenforceable. However, in recent time, there have been improvements to this, especially so should one see the structure on Tubman Boulevard and other areas.
The issue of the environment relates to structures that would be a threat to the vicinity and its residents. This is why sometimes the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) marks some structures to ensure compliance, mainly for the protection of the environment and the people.
On the issue that the people are poor or because of poverty, such an argument is infantile and illogical because one with a front view and does not have the financial resources. It is this kind of argument or mentality that is keeping some of our people down that they continue to hold on to land that they would lease to accrue financial resources to better themselves, rather, they prefer holding on to them, without any benefit thereof.
Today anyone travelling throughout this country would be amazed to see the number of undeveloped lands, some with mud-made structures. This policy in Ganta is not a policy to take away the people’s land without just compensation something I would have vehemently opposed, but a policy to ensure that certain kinds of structures are built on the front view, and so if one does to have the means, such person can pursue other means to benefit.
To talk about “poverty” or “poor people” is only an argument for these land owners to remain in such as state, if it is true. Again, if it is true that they cannot afford to comply, they can still become financially potent by leasing or selling a land that has appreciated over the years, especially in a commercial city like Ganta. Such action would enable them to get fund to better their lives.
When laws are made, they are not for certain people. This is why it is said that ‘laws are not discriminatory,” that, they are not made for certain people. To say that because certain individuals do not have “The hand” to comply, then, such a policy or ordinance would be unjust and unfair to others.
I’m aware that sometimes development goes with hard feelings, as some decisions or policy would affect certain individuals or being about certain feelings. But at the end of the day, the very people would be proud of such a policy or decision. Development, at times, means swallowing the “bitter pills” for the “Sweet” tomorrow.
I recall when the GSA Road was being built. There were lots of complaints that the project was causing unnecessary flood in the area but today, with the completion of the road, the very residents can now boast of a solid road that they are benefitting from.
To the people of Ganta or the entire county, I say this initiative, though, may cause some bad feelings or pains; come tomorrow, they would be proud of what is taking place in that city.
Indeed, had we followed what is obtaining in Ganta, or enforcing the Zoning laws in this country, the city of Monrovia would not have been seen as a village, meaning it has been lagging behind in term of infrastructural development.
Therefore, let other cities learn from the Ganta example and let us, for selfish reasons avoid politicizing things that will benefit the people. I Rest My Case.