LIBERIA: Gen Mary Broh Launches ‘Vigorous Cleanup Campaign’, As Bulldozers Raid Illegal Structures In Monrovia

The Director General of the General Services Agency (GSA), Madam Mary Tanyonneh Broh has been given another assignment by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to make sure the City of Monrovia and its environs is given a refresher look through the launching of a cleanup campaign.

Madam Mary Broh, affectionately call ‘General Broh’ who is considered in Liberia as a no nonsense government official has always been on the back of people who refused to have their environments clean, and sometimes forced them to clean up their own dwellings.

Prior to her appointment as Director General of the GSA, Gen Broh served as Mayor of the City of Monrovia, during tenure she declared the first Saturday of each month as Mary Broh Day; this day is set aside for residents of Monrovia and its environs to keep their environment clean.

She disgraced people be it government officials or the ordinary who were not abiding to the rules of the city ordinances to keeping their residences clean.

Her removal from that post as City Mayor was recommended by members of the Liberian Parliament after one of their staffers Madam Nancy Gaye, a staff in the office of Sen. John Ballout of Maryland County complained before the Liberian Senate (through Sen. Ballout) essentially to the effect that she was assaulted (slapped) allegedly by Madam Mary Broh.

Madam Gaye further claimed that she was denied access to justice by the Police “because of Madam Broh’s proximity power”. Under such circumstance, she sought refuge with the Senate through her boss.

After hearing her complaint, the Liberian Senate summoned Madam Broh to appear before that august body to answer to a complaint of “ASSAULT” as alleged by Madam Gaye. On the day of the “hearing”, Madam Broh wrote a communication to the Senate informing that body of her ill-health for which reason she could not appear in person. This infuriated the Senators and they ordered (through a second letter sent to Madam Broh) that she appeared at 2pm that same day or risked been “held in legislative contempt”.

The Sergeant-At-Arms of the Senate who took the letter to Madam Broh reported back to the Senators that he did not see or meet Madam Broh at her office to deliver the letter. Immediately thereupon, they went ahead to effectuate their earlier threat to “hold her in contempt”. They further declared a “VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE” in her.

This move by the Senators gave rise for the removal of Madam Broh from the post as Mayor the City of Monrovia by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to the position of Director General of the General Services Agency or GSA.

Given this new assignment to clean the City wallow the minds of many Liberian as to whether the current City Mayor is not doing her job well to keep the city and its environs clean at all times.

Many Liberians who spoke on a local radio talk shows welcomed the appointment by the Liberian leader to allow Madam Broh to help keep the City clean, why others condemned the move, saying the current Mayor of the City should be given the support to do what Madam is doing.

Broh bellows orders to her staff, directs traffic, chastises errant mothers and speeding motorbike drivers. This tough style has led kids to call her “Major One”. But that’s not her only nickname. She’s been called the “Sledgehammer Lady,”

“I get things done,” says Broh, slapping her hand un-apologetically. “We told all homes to bring their dirt on the streets and the trucks will pick them up. It is difficult because I do not have my equipment, they will be coming later on,” she says as an assistant adjusts the spotless white towel on her shoulder. She quickly resumes her march, ordering her staff to issue fines for unkempt yards, upbraiding the owners and any of the volunteers who are dawdling.

“This place is very dirty, who is the owner of this home? You can smell the dirt? Find the person and take them to court,” the acting mayor orders.

Broh’s mostly-female deputies hurry to keep pace with her, using bullhorns to encourage residents to join the mayor’s campaign. Not even they escape Broh’s scrutiny. “They come on the street as if they are on a promenade. They are not serious,” she says.

In certain communities around Monrovia, Broh says she can always expect a fight.  The most notable example happened two months ago at the Bassa Community on the Capitol Bye-Pass. Broh and her team visited the community to destroy makeshift businesses crowding the sidewalks, according to a witness who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution from the mayor. When one boy protested, he was arrested and dragged to jail. Now community members say they stays behind closed doors until Broh passes by.

“Every first Saturday, we stay indoors until ten o’clock. But then we have to come outside to sell, because we have to feed ourselves and send our children to school,” the witness says.

Still, Broh has made cleaning up the slums the centerpiece of her administration. She says she is empowered by city ordinance number one “to keep Monrovia clean and green.” The ordinance was passed in 1975 under the administration of William R. Tolbert and revised in 1988 under Samuel K. Doe. The World Bank has put in US$18.4 million, to sanitation improvements in Monrovia. Five million of that has been allocated to Broh’s efforts.

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