For a second there many Liberians have almost forgotten the status of ongoing develpopment projects accross the country. This has been so becuase of the ongoing political tension within the country for the past several months that have made various headlines, neglecting other equally important unfoldings.
This of course is due in parts to a Global Witness report which has indicted several government officials both past and present. Aside the Global Witness report, is the political atmoshphere couple with growing economic hardships-the continuos free fall of the Liberian Dollar against the United States Dollar, the debate over the printing of new Liberian Dollar banknotes, a stalled budget among others.
To many, these above mentioned unfoldings among others have simply brought everything to a standstill, wondering the direction of the country in terms of political leadership and development.
A friend asked me few nights ago if there were any hope in Liberia’s future 5 years from now. My answer may have not been the most honest one-all due to the prevailing political tension in the country and the growing disappointment among the general population with the political elites.
Many have been expecting a nationwide speech from President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as she has done in previous times to provide as it were some level of hope in terms of direction in these previaling circumstances.
But on Tuesday August 16, Mrs. Sirleaf departed from her usual national address in an attempt to restore the much needed hope to the population and send a message accross that inspite of the ongoing political and economic situations, her government was still working towards its deliverables by touring several ongoing government projects.
One of the most signicant of all the projects toured on Tuesday was the Mount Coffee Hydropower project. On Jully 26, 2006, President Sirleaf lighting the first light in Monrovia in nearly a decade crafted what has now become a slogan “Small light today, big light tomorrow“.
The initia plan was that hydropower would had been restored to the country, at least at its prewar capacity on or before Christmas of December 2015. But like several other projects, it was put on a hold largely due to the out break of the Ebola Virus Disease, which brought the economy to a virtual standstill and left thousands of Liberians dead.
However, the big light is finally in sight! “Just absolutely so pleasing,” President Sirleaf told local journalists after being briefed by foreign engineers working on the hydropower project that the first turbine would be turned on, on December 16 this year, and the second in mid 2017.
“And our hydro is just absolutely so pleasing because we were here in December. There were somethings going on but today we can really see now that when we say big lights tomorrow, tomorrow is almost at hand,” Mrs. Sirleaf continued.
At least this is a welcoming news for a population which for many years have suffered unemployment due to low investment inflow. The cost of running a business on a diessel generator is so hard that many investors have shy away from doing business here.
Even those with investments here have over the years continue to cut down the number of staff because a significant portion of their overhead have been spent on generators. What was of more significant to the ears was to heard the Mount Coffee Hydropower Project Director working with Liberia Electricity Corporation’s project implementation unit (PIU), Mr. Bill Hakin saying that the project is ensuring that Liberians can maintain and operate the facility within the next five years period.
Already, he says training is ongoing in Zambia, and that further training will continue in Europe and the US as well. Another side attraction of the President’s tour on Tuesday was a visit to the ongoing construction of additional 70 housing units at NASSCORP Village in Brewerville and the proposed home for relocated West Pointers in the VOA community.
The 70 new housing units in Brewerville are being constructed in addition to the 56 units already occupied by Liberians after being dedicated by President Sirleaf in December 2015.The housing projects for the relocation of West Pointers threaten by increasing sea erosion is something that have skipe the media headlines. And that the president could tour this ongoing construction has brought it to the fore.
Inspite of the political rigmarole, one thing that was key during the President’s tour Tuesday was that those who live in the VOA Community accepted the relocated West Pointers and that they have integrated as one big family, though there is still room to improve their conditions.
There are plans to stop the relocated West Pointers from being dependant on Government and one is is working along with the Agriculture Ministry to provide tools to enable resident start planting.
“The idea is to stop them from being totally dependent and to enable them to grow their own food,” President Sirleaf said. Over 300 residents along with some 300 children from West Point near Central Monrovia are said to have relocated at the VOA proposed home so far, after years of continuous erosion that has seen homes destroyed.
The President’s action on Tuesday, whether it was intended to down play the political unfoldings and remind Liberians that inspite of all of these the government is still focuss on its deliverables was a initiative that worth commendation.
Mount Coffee comes alive A turbine under construction
Hydro nearing completion Pres. Sirleaf arrival at Mt. Coffee
Work in progress Pres. Sirleaf watches a power point
Some of the units The structure hosting the turbines at Mt. Coffe