LIBERIA: Pres. Sirleaf X-rays State of Nation In Annual Message

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Monday delivered her ninth State of the Nation address calling on Liberians to strive for a better Liberia, noting that all Liberians will take the credit for an improved country. The message catalogued the achievements of the government in 2013 and outlined plans and undertakings the administration has set for the country in 2014.

Delivering the message at the 53rd Sitting of the National Legislature on Capitol Hill on Monday, President Sirleaf said government will enforce the zoning law to curb wanton abuse of public spaces by individuals who deface the Liberian capital.

She said the government will not hesitate to exercise eminent domain where land owners continue to hold on to property in the capital city that they have failed to develop over many years and, thereby, stalling the transformation of the city.

The Chief Executive announced that 500 housing units will be built in the vicinity of the University of Liberia Fendell Campus, outside Monrovia, as part of efforts to address the housing problem, while plans are underway to transform the West Point slum into better living quarters.

Pres. Sirleaf spoke of plans to complete some construction projects and refurbish other public building like the MVTC, SKD Complex, Ducor Hotel, Hotel Africa, National Housing and Savings Bank and the E.J. Roye building.

She disclosed that efforts would be directed at the transport sector with the improvement of public transport, and announced that about 25 buses will come from India, while bus transport would be upgraded to reach leeward counties.

In the transport sector, the President said aviation services had improved with some 11 major airlines flying to Liberia, cutting the cost of travel by over 100 percent and seeing the number of travelers increase compared to just four years ago.
On sea transport, the Liberian leader praised transformation at the National Port Authority relative to seaport development, but was concerned about coastal erosion around the country and cited Buchanan as an example of efforts to combat this menace.

On telecommunication, President Sirleaf spoke of the arrival of the ACE fiber optic cable in Liberia and its positive impact on the sector in Liberia, but said there was a need to find US$50 million to enable Liberia meet the global transition from analogue to digital systems by 2015.

For human development and education, the President cited improvements at the University of Liberia, technical and vocational centers, emergence of some five community colleges in the counties as well as junior colleges at two venues.

She harped on the increase in the number of girls enrolling in educational institutions, committing government to doing more to prepare all Liberians, especially females, academically to meet the challenges ahead of the nation.

President Sirleaf spoke of massive gains in the health sector, citing the Jackson F. Doe Hospital in Tappita and increased patient services at the J.F.K. Hospital, and called for increased budgetary allotment for the Redemption Hospital and other health facilities.

She hailed the independence of the three branches of government, and called for the consideration of a number of bills before the Legislature and other that would be submitted to that august body during 2014.

The Liberian leader said there would be a massive undertaking of infrastructural development in the Liberian capital, Monrovia, and other parts of the country, requiring huge capital infusion to achieve this goal.

The President lauded the successful hosting of the National County Meet that marked 10 years of peace and security in the country, and congratulated the participating counties, especially the winning counties.       

President Sirleaf chided international and local NGOs for being less transparent in their works and said henceforth all NGOs would be required to report to government on all donor monies, equipment and activities undertaken with such funding.

There are 981 local and international NGOs operating in the country.   

She then paid tribute to a host of former officials and prominent Liberians who lost their lives in 2013, including former President Moses Blah and Catholic Archbishop Michael Francis.

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