Bleakness!

11

 -Living Condition of Slum Dwellers Further Dwindles as Liberia’s COVID-19 Cases Increased To Double Digits   

By Mark N. Mengonfia-m.mengonfia@newrepublic.com

Schools are currently closed due to the Coronavirus pandemic; children were seen running about playing joyfully as the sea rolls on in the PHP slum community in Monrovia.

PHP is a Community located at the back of the Monrovia Central Prison or South Beach as it is widely known by Liberians and it is among the communities that are equally feeling the pinch of the COVID-19 as the number of cases in Liberia has moved to double digits (1070 confirmed cases, 68 deaths and 486 recoveries).

PHP is a community in Monrovia that has been in existence many years ago, but the area is among the many slums in the Liberian Republic that are far from being developed if the Liberian Government does not look in their direction anytime soon.

Seated in a mishits structure with writings of different inscriptions on the walls, is a young man named Chris Banzo, a dweller of the community for over 25 years.

“Living here is a risk” Chris Banzo said as he lay back in an old car chair in his structure that is expected to be carried away by the sea in a year or two.

Chris is aware of the risk associated with living by the ocean, but said that is the only means of shelter he along with others who live there has.

He said “to get a living place in the city is hard and if you go to the rural area, who will be able to support you? So, we just find ourselves on the seaside.”

He indicated that when the ocean rages, they move and shelter in other places until the wrath of the sea reduces after which they return to reconditioning of their places.

The PHP Community is not the only area in Liberia that has or is faced with threats from sea erosion, West Point is one of the places that has suffered from ocean.

Before the start of the interview, Chris was relaxed but when he was asked about his hope since in fact the ocean was fast approaching, his continence changed, eyes turned red and said “we are looking up to God to help us.”

He said they have called on past and present governments many times, but said their plights have not been adhered to, thus living in that slum year after the other.

Giving a history of the community, Chris said growing up as a child; the sea was very far from where they are currently.

With little smile on his face he said, “My father told me the sea was far from here.”

Chris indicated that they had roads, hand pump, government toilet; contemporary structures in the area all of which he said have fallen to the raging ocean waves over the years.

Mr. Banzo responding to question about their lawmaker’s intervention, he said “the Lawmakers are failure, we did elect them to help us, and they do not care about the masses only they and their families.”

He said people who should make the right policies to move their living conditions in the right direction are only after amazing capitals (worth) for they and their families putting aside those who stood in the rain and sun to campaign and vote for them to be elected as lawmakers.

Residents of the area have had difficulties in coping with life; the Chairperson of the PHP Community Madison Carter Sedee who has lived in the area for over twenty-eight years said the COVID-19 has added insults to injuries, making living condition a hopeless one.

“It is every year, every rainy season, we suffer from sea erosion. We do not have any solution; it is only left with the Liberian government to see what they can do for us” Mr. Sedee as he walked towards some of the deplorable structures along the sea.

Since this year, the community has not been attacked by the wrath of the ocean, but Chairperson Sedee said when it occurs, over two to three hundred persons get affected from the erosion.

He said it is left with the Liberian Government to ensure that their lives improves or be relocated from that community to better places that will give them dignity as humans. 

He does not want the Liberian Government to wait after they are one day vanished from shoulders of the sea. Chairperson Madison decried the living conditions of people of that area.

Pointing his fingers at some of the structures that were hit by the waves of the sea, he said their homes are always hit by the sea every year adding “we are managing with life  

Article 25 of the Universe human rights law (https://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/) states that” Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.” But the chairperson of the PHP community said that they are hopeless.

Mr. Sedee started serving as chairperson for the community since 2018; he made some promises of working with authorities in government to ensure that they reach out to them and settle their plights.

One thing he said was since he became chairperson of that community, he has made lots of engagements with some government officials, but it has not attained the expected results.

Mr. Sedee said, the Liberian Government has promised to visit them with the stimulus packages promised, but indicated that since the enumerations of residents, they are still waiting; hoping that one day they are going to get their share of the National cake.

The PHP community chair said they are hoping that government’s promises of providing stimulus packages to vulnerable communities and individuals become a reality as residents of that area are looking up to getting their shares.

One of the budget lines captured in the 2020/2021 budget is US$1million intended for land fill and disaster fund, it is a hope that residents of the PHP Community benefit from some of the US$1million.

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