Mixed-Signals Expressed

By: R. Joycelyn Wea

MONROVIA-In 2015, particularly June 30, 2015, the Government of Liberia through the Paynesville City Corporation (PCC) delegated a US$50,000.00 ‘Garden Park’Project situated at the Du-Port Road intersection.

The delegation was done under the leadership of Mayor Cyvette Gibson during Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s administration for recreational purposes.

With ten large sub-communities, Du-port Road has an estimated population of 114,321 residents.

The genesis of the Du-Port Road Junction Park was conceived during the dedication of the ELWA Junction beautification project in June 2013 when former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf highlighted the need to replicate the same at the Du-port Road junction.

The intention of the construction of the park by the Paynesville City Corporation (PCC) was aimed at beautifying the area.

But fast forward, in 2022, the park has been demolished by the Ministry of Public Works due to the ‘current construction of road project.’

The George Weah-led administration alleged that the demonization of the park is due to the road project despite thousands of United States dollars of taxpayers’ money being invested in it.

The park before its demonization; was used as a dumpsite for residents including disadvantaged youth (Zogos).

The now-demolished pack was neglected for the fact that there was no regular maintenance carried on by PCC  rather used as a dumpsite where garbage was brought from various locations and dumped on the spot where the over US$50,000.00 worth of park was later erected and used as a recreational center for the Du-Port Road communities and others from afar.

Jeremiah Diggen, PPC Communication Director in an interview with this reporter, linked the demonization action by Public Works to what he termed as “massive road construction the government is undertaking along that route.”

“The Coca-Cola Factory Road Project is in full swing and the park is within the constructional area, and so it has to be demolished,” Diggen said.

According to Diggen, at the time the park was constructed, the city authorities did not anticipate that it could have been affected by the current road construction adding, “The demonization was necessary for a development that is more essential than the park.”

“The park was not used again for recreational activity, because it fell within the construction of the road. At the time of the construction of the park, it was important, but as the years went by, things had to change, and the park does not represent the reason for which it was constructed therefore, therefore development has to overshadow the park,” Diggen said.

When asked whether the construction of the park was wasteful spending, Diggen answered in the affirmative.

“When development is taking place there at such time, obviously, some structures that people had spent money on are also demolished to carry on much more important national developmental projects in the supreme interest of the larger population. Having you seen people demolished much bigger buildings to build larger ones; these things happened all around the world. So the road construction that will benefit almost thousands of people as compared to the park, has to prevail,” he indicated.

According to him, the Corporation was notified of the demolition action by the Ministry of Public Works even though Diggen failed to indicate whether the Corporation was compensated for the destruction of the structure as being usually done by the Ministry of Public Works.

“You as a journalist know that place currently does not represent a park, the area is kind of dangerous; even if it does exist, where will people visiting the area park their vehicles? Will you be willing to carry your children to that place while construction is taking place? So you see, the location of the park was not just suitable that is while it was demolished to carry on the road construction,” he asserted.

The park project was sponsored by the National Social Security Corporation (NASSCORP) costing a little over US$50,000.00.

On May 2, 2017, it was reported by FrontPage Africa that the Ministry of Public Works was in the process of demolishing the park, two years after it was constructed, for allegedly failing to follow the zoning laws contrary to Diggen’s statement that the park falls in the construction area hence be the reason for it being demolished.

The newspaper article quoted the Ministry of Public Works, “the Municipal Government of Paynesville did seek Public Works’ advice before carrying out the construction and therefore, violated the zoning laws.”

The PCC, according to the Public Works source, would receive compensation for the demolition as usually done with victims of demolition.

When contacted, former Mayor Cyvette Gibson refused to speak on the issue, despite numerous efforts to have her speak. Madam Gibson said she is out of Liberia hence, she cannot say anything regarding the matter.

At the same time, several inhabitants of Paynesville have expressed frustration in the continued waste of taxpayers’ monies which some blamed on the lack of coordination amongst government institutions relative to the implementation of projects.

“For me, this only demonstrates the lack of coordination within the government,” Mulbah Kesselee, a bike rider at Du-port junction said.

He furthered, “had there been coordination, I don’t think PCC would have built this structure here in the first place; such fund could have been diverted to something else that would benefit the greater good of the country.”

Jestina Butler, a student of the state-run University, who also sells provisions at the junction during the evening hour said, the failure on the part of public officials not to follow the zoning law is one of the major problems confronting the nation.

According to her, until that is addressed, the nation will continue to spend wastefully.

“I cannot say much because the place has already been demolished and no amount of words can undo that, we can only hope that this serves as a wake-up call so that before the project of such can be implemented, there should be engagement so that we do not keep wasting money,” Butler said.

Abraham Momolu, a resident of the Duport Road said he has no problem with the demolition of the park on grounds that it was never benefiting the people of that City.

“We witness the park being taken over by dirt and grass, so if it was demolished to bring a development that is more impactful, I do not see any problem with that,” he added.


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