A fallen structure in Paynesville (Photo By: Gloria Wleh)

In the aftermath of Excavations: The Hills Are Crumbling

By: Gloria Wleh

Ma Rebecca’s sloping five-bedroom house is the focus of sad attraction at the edge of the Red-Hill Community in the Omega area.

The expression on the face of the 64-year-old grandmother is heart-wrenching as she

laments the repression of her younger brother, whom she blames for the gradual collapse of her home.

“My little brother is in his shop, on the road selling. He gives people the go ahead to dig under my house without my knowledge,” the elderly woman said.

“Right now, the house is in a very terrible condition with tenants in it. I cannot give them notice to move out because they have already paid their rent. When you go to talk with him about the situation, he will not say anything to you,” Ma Rebecca continued.

(Ma Rebecca’s house in the Omega community) Photo: Gloria Wleh

Appearing apprehensive behind her tailoring machine, the old woman seemed hesitant about being interviewed or recorded. “I do not have money. So, I do not have the power to handle the situation. My brother is the one in charge of everything.”

Isaiah Sackie is an occupant in one of the rooms within Ma Rebecca’s house. What is supposed to be a home to him and his family has become a nightmare.

Feeling hopeless of living in his room as a family head of five, he said, “I feel very afraid living here with my children. But what do I do? I do not have money to take my family from here.”

Sackie disclosed that for the past three years, he and his family have been living in the house through the kind gesture of the landlord.

“I cannot go elsewhere with my family because I do not have money. The landlord assisted in giving me a room in this house free of charge. If they continue digging here, I will remain here like this because I don’t have money to leave from here, Sackie explained.”He however appealed to the district lawmaker and other authorities in the government to come to their rescue, as there are also pregnant women and young children living atop the hill.

Like Isaiah Sackie, Mark Mitchell and his family are also living in a five-bedroom house on the hilltop at S. D. Cooper Road in Paynesville. He also claims that the house was given to him free of charge by the landlord.

For the past five months, Mark and his family have been living in a house that is currently hanging over a wide pit, which was reportedly dug by a Lebanese businessman who leased the spot from one Mr. Brown, whom Mark mentioned as the owner of the house.

“The Lebanese man dug this place like this. In the process of digging, the machine damaged our bathroom, and they have refused to do anything about it. Now we don’t even have any bathroom to use,” Mark explained.

He then called on the government to take “urgent steps” in addressing their situation because they and their families are in danger.

Adjacent Mr. Brown’s property is Reverend Kehty Swen who disclosed that Mrs. Vivian Seaton who lives abroad, is the original owner of the property atop the hill and Mr. Brown is the caretaker.

According to Reverend Kehty, “when they started digging, they told us that they were going to build a fence immediately after the digging to prevent any casualty, but we have not seen anything like that going on.”

“Now the rain is falling and the hill has started dropping by itself. We called them and they told us that the engineer responsible for building the fence has traveled.”

The Reverend disclosed that the residents have threatened a court action against Mrs. Seator, upon the advice of a lawyer. “We have decided to get our counselor involved by this week, and we may likely go to court.”

Investigation revealed that Curry Transport Service (CTS) is one entity that is involved in the backfilling of lands, demolitions, and the excavation of hills around Monrovia. Caterpillar 966h Wheel Loaders are the machines they used to carry out their work.

Their machines are seen mostly parked directly opposite the Red-Hill in Omega, and one of the supervisors Morgan explained their involvement in the excavation process.” The hill was all the way to the road here, and we burst it to where it is right now.”

Morgan said, “the property owner called us and sold the dirt off the hill to us for US$5 per truck load and we have taken more than 100 truckloads from this hill.”

He disclosed that it was based on the advice of their company that the owner of the property paid residents at the edge of hill and gave them notice to vacate the area.

The Agencies clothed with the authority to handle issues such as protecting the environment (The Environmental Protection Agency), the implementation of zoning regulations (Ministry of Public Works, and the acquisition of land in Liberia, as well as settling land disputes (Liberia Land Authority), are yet to address the issue of hilltop excavations in and around Monrovia.

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