By Reuben Sei Waylaun
MONROVIA-If history is kind to all, Mayor Jefferson Tamba Koijee of the City Government of Monrovia will never be forgotten because of his ‘unmatched achievements’ in three years.
The achievements of the city were highlighted during the celebration of the 45th Day of Monrovia on Tuesday February 16, 2021.
The celebration of the day is in keeping with City Ordinance No. 4 which established Monrovia Day as a holiday for the City of Monrovia in order “to create a sense of identity and to increase the awareness of the residents and thus accelerate the pace of development in the city.
In a statement, the youthful Mayor rallied the residents and citizens of the country to work in concert and demonstrate what he calls ‘cohesive unity.’
Mayor Koijee calls for a renewed culture of self-discipline, esteem and forge stronger links of togetherness that will compel respect, human rights and dignity.
The Lord Mayor highlighted achievements of the City Government of Monrovia under his watch as the fight against coronavirus, infrastructure development, education among others.
He said “Last year, we set out and accomplished several milestones for the city government. The Monrovia City Government revisited her 2020 programs with topmost focus on collaborating with the National Government in the fight against the Coronavirus Pandemic which became a global emergency in March. At the onset of the outbreak in Liberia, we commissioned the Monrovia City Taskforce on COVID-19 Preparedness and Response which rallied the cooperation of sister cities, townships, and other local government authorities and redirected our resources toward a massive clearance of garbage, with emphasis on removal of backlogs, cleaning and disinfecting drainages, markets, public toilets and other facilities. We were also appointed as lead on Hygiene and Sanitation Pillar on the National COVID-19 Incident Management System.”
“With support from the National Public Health Institute and the Ministry of Health, Republic of Liberia, our taskforce partnered with the Crusaders for Peace and engaged into social mobilization, active case findings, specimen collections and sites preparation within Montserrado County. We launched a two-thousand (2,000) person vigorous community, radio and social media awareness campaign, recruited six thousand(6,000) persons trained by NPHIL and MoH as Active Case Finders to work with COVID-19 Contact Tracers, and established five centers for testing and specimen collection. Moreover, approximately 2 million inhabitants in Monrovia and Montserrado were reached by our mobilizers and active case finders, which activities explain the low number of deaths in the city and county,” Mayor Koijee said in a statement issued during the Monrovia Day celebration in Monrovia.
According to him, due to the city’s effective COVID-19 resilience mechanisms as a city and country, they made significant strides to restore economic life.
Mayor Koijee recounted that the coronavirus has become complex with variety of mutations in other parts of the world. He urged residents and citizens of the city to remain vigilant and continue to implement the health protocols vigorously. Speaking further, Mayor Koijee extended special thanks and appreciations to international and local partners for their generous contributions and cooperation during this period of dire life-saving needs.
He however assured everyone that the city’s COVID-19 Task Force is prepared to work with relevant health authorities to implement the President’s mandate which calls for increasing EPI Surveillance due to the Ebola outbreak in neighboring Guinea.
He further added “We established an Economic Policy Management (EPM) unit that is spearheading the development of a five year strategic plan of the Monrovia City Government. We commenced the reviewing of our city ordinance in order to bring them up to speed with current realities. We also started coordination for the revision of the City Charter. These institutional reforms are on-going as they involve intensive and extensive levels of consultations and processes.”
However, Mayor Koijee said they experienced a significant decrease in the tonnage of garbage disposed in 2020 from 79,375.77 tons in 2019 to 60,156.96 tons in 2020.
He said while they anticipated an increase in garbage generation, there was a decrease in the garbage disposed due to general economic slowdown caused by the pandemic, thus reducing waste generation.
“We however remain grateful to the World Bank for the continued assistance to this sector under the Cheesemanburg Landfill Urban Sanitation (CLUS) Project which is supporting the City’s solid waste management system through logistical and financial support toward secondary waste collection and disposal, closure of the Whein Town Landfill and graduation to the new Cheesemanburg Landfill under construction. We are pleased to mention that Cities Alliance in the same vein will shortly provide and roll out grant and loan facility in the amount of US$1.5 million dollars to Community Based Enterprises and Small Medium Enterprises in the solid waste management sector. This initiative which started last year, when completed, will accelerate our drive toward effective primary solid waste collections at the household’s level,” he added.
Mayor Koijee said “Due to the global COVID-19 Pandemic, the city experienced a decrease in construction works by 47% between 2019 and 2020. However, we are presently experiencing an increase in the pace of new constructions.”
“Youths constitute about 65% of our population. In this regard, we launched several signature interventions to build their capacities, provide opportunities and enhance peaceful coexistence and unity amongst them. Accordingly, our Youth Affairs Unit has been engaged into the following activities: Annual national universities debate ,competition, Annual national spelling bee competition, National youth Entrepreneurship summit, National scrabble competition; and Annual Monrovia Communities quizzing competition,” he recounted.
He further said “We launched the annual Street Soccer tournament which H.E. President George M. Weah graced and participated in. During the 2020 special senatorial Elections in the country and the growing wave of tensions among political actors; the City Government organized a dialogue between political actors through our partner the Messengers of Peace. We organized a workshop for over 19 Mayors from different cities around the country on the preventive measure and awareness on Rape and Gender Based Violence. We signed a joint resolution with zero tolerance for rape and Gender Based violence.”
“We provided two thousand (2,000) metal tables to street sellers in Water Side Market and are committed to doing more. The City Government has transformed its patio to the beautiful Monrovia City Garden (Bar and Restaurant). In mid-2020, Monrovia was among thirty cities around the world invited by the Carter Center to apply for the implementation of its gender mainstreaming “Inform Women, Transform Lives” project, which seek to demonstrate women access to information and the corresponding change it will produce. I am happy to state that we are among the thirteen winners, the only three from Africa and the only West African city. Preliminaries have been ongoing and the project will officially begin by March 3 and ends September 12 this year,” he said.
“The Monrovia City Government initiated a local and international scholarship program. Last year, over 50 staff obtained several certificates in Public Management Services (PMS) courses at the Liberia Institute for Public Administration (LIPA). Two staff left for foreign studies. Mr. Amara B. Kanneh of the Environmental Health and Safety Department is doing Masters in Development Studies at the Kigali Independent University, Kigali, Rwanda. Recently, our Director for Public Affairs, Mr. Pekeleh Gbuapaye, left for Cyprus to study International Relations at the Near East University. Others will be leaving over the course of this year,” he recounted.
Meanwhile, Mayor Koijee has outlined challenges the City Government is facing as well. According to him, they continue to face, particularly its Services Directorate, continues to face basic service delivery challenges. The COVID-19 impacted negatively their revenue collection and overall operations.
However, they continue to explore new avenues of opportunities and seek to increase existing ones like revenue generation and support from long standing international partners and the Government of Liberia.
“Rapid growth and expansion of the city due to the following demographic factors continued to exert and demand the need for a paradigm shift of the city status: Rapid natural population increase, Urban-urban migration, Rural-urban migration and also
Immigration. These processes contributed to rapid population growth and expansion of the city and are contributing robustly to transforming the peri-urban areas into fast growing urbanized areas, thus the need to initiate the process of creating a metropolitan city of Monrovia,” he added.
He added “Whatever may have been our challenges, we must start anew by acting anew. Challenges indeed are a measure of success. It is time for us to consolidate the gains of our interventions last year. We shall never know with any degree of accuracy who, what, why, when and where our resources and inputs were adequate or inadequate, sufficient or insufficient. It is time for us to endeavor equally for the challenges and productivity of our municipality. This is our challenge.”