In the Foreign Ministry’s Office of the President, the President sits worried. Perhaps pondering over her critics’ next move should her much publicized 150-day deliverables become a failure. “I wonder what could they (oppositions) be thinking now, already, they hold the view that my government is not performing in spite of all the efforts,” she (President) might be thinking.
Sure indeed, some critics have begun lambasting the President’s 150-day deliverable with some describing it as insignificant because the common man is yet to feel the impact, while others are saying that the frontrunners of various components of the deliverables are not performing to the time and expectation. “They are not doing their work in observance of the agreed time and date of completion”, Bushuben Kanneh, a prospective graduate of the Cuttington University said.
Well, one Ministry that has taken the lead in the implementation of the President’s 150-day deliverable is the Ministry of Public Works. As part of its 150-day deliverable, the Public Works Ministry, as chair of the National Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Promotion Committee, on Tuesday, May 22, 2012, launched what historians and statisticians would describe as the first and perhaps biggest WASH Awareness Campaign in Liberia. The program which brought together over 3,000 delegates from across the country took place in five regions including Bong, River Gee, Sinoe, Margibi and Bomi Counties.
The 3,000 delegates represent cross section of the Liberian society including youths, women, elders, unions, etc. This for me is an overwhelming success and must therefore be lauded for the mere fact that it featured almost all sectors of the Liberian society. This exercise was publicized with nearly 10 local dailies carrying the story caption “Nationwide WASH Compact Awareness Comes To an End”.
Look, let no one gets me wrong, I am neither a mouthpiece of Public Works, nor am I reacting to critics. I am simply acknowledging the good work of the Ministry as regards the 150-day deliverable. There is a local saying that says “give the man his flower while he is alive”. In simple term, I am just giving the Ministry her flowers while she performs.
With this achievement, I again focused my 150-day deliverable Review Microscope on the President’s office. In her office, she (president) sits, this time around in a more relaxed manner with little hope and smile. I know my boys and girls will live up to their tasks, they just need to be proactive” The President could be saying. Well, “the horns cannot be heavy for the head that takes them”. So, they will have to deliver as the burden to “lift Liberians rests on their heads.
With the successful hosting of the Nationwide WASH Festival, I now take interest in the Public Works’ components of the President’s 150-day deliverable. So, on Monday, June 4, 2012, I managed to find my way in the Planning and Programming Department of the Ministry. There, as an independent investigator, I asked for update of the Ministry’s 150-day Action Plan. All I was asked of was to present my identification card which I did. With no hesitation, I was handed a copy of the Ministry’s 150-Day Action Plan. What a proactive agency, I intoned
According to the document, the Ministry on Monday, June 11, 2012 broke ground for the reconstruction of Lot 1 of the 180.36km Red-Light-Ganta-Guinea Border Road. At the same time, the Ministry will be dedicating the Fishtown-Harper Road on June 23, 2012 as part of its 150-day deliverable. “During the first term of our government, it was about lifting Liberia, now in this second term, is about lifting Liberians. We will work to ensure that the project translate into real benefit for the ordinary citizens and contractors, the Works Minister said as he made special remarks during the ground breaking ceremonies of the Red-Light Gbarnga Highway.
Further perusing the document, I noticed that the Infrastructure agency has also commenced its temporary jobs creation scheme in road side brushing along the Kakata to Margibi/Bong border. Along that corridor leading to the border between Bong and Lofa, Feeder roads and bridges construction are taken place in Totota-Sanoyea and Piata, Gbonota-Phebe junction, Makpoh Hill, Gbansue-Sulomah and Piata-Sanoyea.
Additionally, the Ministry through one of its local contractors, Youth Empowerment Development Organization (YEDO) has also commenced roadside brushing on the Brewerville to Bo-Waterside highway as part of the short term job creation scheme.
It may interest any one to know that the document subsequently revealed that after 32 years of being cut off from the rest of Bong County from vehicular movement, car road has finally entered Piata community in Bong County. This means since 1980, the people of Piata community had been walking on foot in order to access other communities. What a terrible life these good people have lived for several decades? Well, as the saying goes, “everything has time”. So the time for the good people of Piata has come.
Viewing video documentary of assessment visit, I was made to understand that road users are reporting significant reduction in transportation cost of 60%, specifically from Piata to Gbonota. There is also report of improvement in living standards from palm thatch roofing to zinc roofing. This means that people are now transporting building materials in locomotive objects like trucks, buses, pickups, taxes, etc.
This reminds me of an assertion made by one Prince Lackie in an article written by one Paul M. Kanneh on feeder road that prior to the rehabilitation of roads in their areas; they used to pay L$1,000.00 from Kelebah to Totota on motorbikes. Now, motorcyclists plying that corridor are charging L$300.00 as a result of government’s intervention. In this case, one doesn’t need an economic scientist to say that Liberia is on the right trajectory of economic development.
What remains to be a major challenge in this area is less access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene facilities. Community dwellers rely on the St. Paul River. Well, let me use this opportunity to plead with them and assure them that soon, these inevitable life saving facilities will reach them as the government and its donor partners have shifted attention to the WASH Sector as evidenced by the signing of the WASH Compact in May 2011 follow by its nationwide popularization campaign by the National Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion Committee in May 2012.
In this same vein, temporary jobs creation in roadside brushing and drainage cleaning in Voinjam, the capital of Lofa is ongoing. Feeder road rehabilitation works on Voinjama-Kurbemai, Voinjama-Bolongolidu and Borkeza-Kpasagizia is also fast progressing with the contractors chasing the completion date in June 2012, the same time that the President’s 150-day deliverable initiative is expected to come to an end. What interests me more was to see that work participants are using their own equipment/tools to carry out these exercises. It seems now that the people of Liberia understand that government job or facilities are theirs. Therefore, they should take ownership of them. This is happening in Zorzor District, according to the document.
Another interesting aspect of my investigation on the Ministry’s 150-day Action Plan was to see that tremendous progress has been made on the Kolahun, Foya and Bolahun Junction to Vahun road. Everyone would agree with me that the people of Vahun had been cut off from the rest of Liberia for more than 10 years due to bad road condition.
As part of its 150-day deliverable, the Ministry’s contractor (SSF) has deployed its machineries on the historic Kamboi hill, thus cutting down the 3.7 km long hill to an appreciable level. “I am impressed with progress thus far on the Vahun road especially the Kamboi hill engagement, this hill has really troubled the movement of our people, so seeing it being brought down to the convenience of car owners and travelers is a good news for our 150-day deliverable”, Robert Gibson, Public Works’ Resident Engineer of the county said.
Having been cut off from the rest of the country for several years, one can now imagine the level of degradation that these coffee and coco producing people experienced. Virtually cut off from the rest of Lofa and Liberia, the cost of basic goods and services went high. “So, were compelled to trade in Sierra Leone or Guinea currencies”, one Isatta, a renowned business woman asserted. More to this, they had very limited access to Government and/or Nongovernmental humanitarian and development assistance as well as minimal investment and growth opportunities. So anybody making an honest appraiser on the government’s 150-day deliverable campaign would obviously rate progress on Vahun road as a major achievement and human interest intervention.
In the case of Monrovia, I don’t need to quote somebody or a piece of document. I am certainly an eyewitness and not just an ordinary eyewitness, but a living and beneficiary one. The asphalt pavement of the Logan Town road, the transformation of the Caldwell-Lousiana log bridge into a complete concrete bridge is an excellent strive that must not only be praised but also remembered as the people of Caldwell Community have remained without paved road for over a hundred and sixty years. I mean since Liberia was founded in 1822 by free slaves from America. “Governments upon governments have broken ground for the construction of the Caldwell road, but could not actualize their dreams because there was a myth about the road”, an elderly man told me.
Recently, the government of Liberia through the Public Works Ministry dedicated the Neezoe-Parker Paint and GSA roads. These are all part of the Ministry’s 150-day deliverable Action Plan. Who is talking about this? No one, well, it is the government’s responsibility to do for its people as it is normally said, but it’s equally the responsibility of the citizens to acknowledge the good things that their government is doing for them.
My curiosity about the Ministry’s 150-Day Action Plan did not stop there. I wanted to know those behind these successes, because there is a saying that says, “Behind every successful man, is a strong woman”. During one of my research expeditions, I stopped over at the Ministry’s premises around 7:45 pm to see if I could talk to someone. Well, I was just guessing because civil servants in Liberia can knockout from work at 4:00 pm.
To my surprise, the Financial Department staffs were at work. My curiosity further pushed me to pull words from a staff who said to me on condition of anonymity that they have to work the way they are working because the completion date of the President’s 150-day deliverable is near. “We must ensure that our part is done. In addition, we are one of the nucleolus of this entity; everyone including contractors depends on us for their deliverables”. Based on this, we have to work late”, the staff concluded.
Unquestionably, the Ministry’s 150-day deliverable is well on course. It might not be perfect, but one can clearly say that the guys are performing to expectation given the numerous achievements and interventions that they have made across the country in adherence to their 150 150-day deliverable mandate. With the presence of a young and energetic Deputy Minister for Administration, they could do more.