Liberian Lawmakers Split Over Committee Report On Alleys, Waterways

Lawmakers are divided over a recommendation by the House’s Committee on Public Works requesting legislative support to enable the Ministry of Public Works demolish structures built in alleys and waterways.
The recommendation was a bid to find solution to the problem of flooding confronting Monrovia and its environs annually.

The House’s Committee on Public Works chaired by Montserrado County Representative Edward Forh Tuesday submitted the report to Plenary in which it recommended, among other things, that lawmakers support the Ministry in carrying out its planned demolition exercise.

Plenary two weeks ago mandated the Committee to liaise with the ministry in putting in place measures aimed at addressing the zoning problems that cause flooding every year, destroying properties and obstructing free movement of goods and services.

The lawmakers gave the mandate to the Committee following a lengthy debate on a communication Montserrado County Representatives Munah Youngblood and Acarious Gray sent to Speaker J. Alex Tyler calling for collaboration with the Executive Branch in considering prompt intervention to address the flood issue.

But, Representatives Gabriel Smith and Solomon George, among others, argued that any attempt to dislodge people by means of demolition will have negative impact on the lives of ordinary Liberians.

They maintained that even though the Public Works Ministry has the legal authority to enforce the Zoning Laws, it was not prudent to exercise such authority in the absence of a relocation program.

Clarence Massaquoi and Haja Siryon opined that it was in the interest of the country and even those to be affected that the demolition exercise takes effect because the flooding was making life difficult for the majority during the rainy season.

They added that it was important for a holistic approach to the situation to put it to rest once and for all and address the suffering of the people.

Meanwhile, Plenary has mandated the Committee on Public Works to see how best the Ministry can carry out its official functions with “a sense of human touch”.

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