“This peace, God brought it to us. All the peace accords failed and Liberians were wondering when peace will come. Liberians were on their knees crying on God. So, the peace we now enjoy that can make you to move from here to Buchanan in the night or any county midnight and no one stops you or sets ambush for you, came from God–let’s be grateful” Evang. Johnson told Liberians.
“Any attempt to undo the Accra Peace Accord, Liberia will go back to her dark days” he warned.
“Therefore, let me use this opportunity to again reiterate Liberia’s commitment to development cooperation with Japan under the TICAD framework and through direct bilateral engagement,” the President stressed.
“My fellow Liberians, let all of us do our part as responsible citizens,” he said.
Special Message by His Excellency Dr. George Manneh Weah on the Occasion of the Observance of the 174th Independence Anniversary of Liberia
In union strong success is sureWe cannot fail!
With God aboveOur rights to proveWe will o’er all prevail.
Long live Liberia, happy land!A home of glorious liberty,By God’s command!
MONROVIA. July 26 (LINA) – The President, Dr. George Manneh Weah, has described as major historical failure Liberia’s appalling infrastructural deficit.
Giving his nationwide address commemorating Liberia’s 174h Independence Anniversary, the Liberian Chief Executive reflected that one of the country’s recurring themes, which remained prominent and consistent throughout history, is its large infrastructural deficit. He said Liberia cannot boast of being the first independent African nation when, up to today, “we lack the proper health, educational, governance and infrastructure systems befitting such a status”.
“That is why since our incumbency, my Administration has endeavored to tackle roads and other basic infrastructure requirements so as to bring improvement to the lives of our people, as well as ensuring that there is adequate access to services,” the President said in a prerecorded national address on Monday, July 26, 2021. He said in spite of many challenges, his government has rehabilitated thousands of kilometers of roads across the country, built hundreds of housing units, constructed and rehabilitated many schools, hospitals and several market buildings.
Dr. Weah said his government will continue its infrastructure drive, in keeping with the Pro-Poor Agenda, “until we can begin to reduce the infrastructural deficit because, the very existence of this deficit at this time in our national development trajectory can be regarded as a major historical failure.” He continued: “In spite of the negative impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic, we have ensured that the national development agenda is not derailed. With the firm and prudent fiscal and monetary policy measures we have instituted, inflation has return to single digit. There is also greater stability in the monetary sector and marginal GDP growth is projected.”
President Weah is strongly convinced that the country’s infrastructure which, he said became more visible to him during his recent county tour across the country will remain undaunted unless strategically practical intervention is made. He assured Liberians that his administration will continue its roads development program in keeping with the flagship Development Platform, the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development, PAPD, until the situation is improved.
President Weah asserted that it’s because of such national embarrassment that his Administration has endeavored to tackle roads and other basic infrastructure requirements in order to bring improvement to the people and to ensure that there is adequate access to services. He noted that in spite of many challenges, “we have rehabilitated thousands of kilometers of roads across the country, built hundreds of housing units, constructed and rehabilitated many schools, hospitals and several market buildings.”
Covid-19 and Liberians’ Resilience
Apart from the national infrastructural embarrassment recounted, the President also weighed in on the current health situation brought to bear by the COVID-19 pandemic, saying that the country is not being spared by the scourge of the pestilence, including infections and deaths.
“As we are all aware, since early last year, the entire world has been ravished by this deadly disease, which has infected almost 200 million persons so far, and resulted in the deaths of more than 4 million citizens of our various countries,” said the President. He added, however, that through strong leadership and effective implementation of health policies and protocols, as well as the sacrifices and dedication of our health workers, infections and fatalities have been kept to a minimum.
He recounted: “Last month, the country experienced an aggressive upsurge of the COVID-19 pandemic as opposed to the situation seen early this year and last year. Over a period of 3 weeks, the daily number of people testing positive for Corona virus increased from less than 10 to almost 100 per day and the proportion of people testing positive was as high as 20% over the same period.” As of July 24, the President quoted health ministry stats as saying that there is a cumulative number of 5,433 confirmed cases after 141,077 tests and nearly 38.5% or 2,094 of these cases were reported last month.
There have been 226 deaths since the onset of the pandemic in Liberia, with 140 of those deaths occurring since the recent upsurge of the disease, President Weah recounted. He also revealed that 95,867 Liberians have been vaccinated, of which 86,288 persons received the first dose of AstraZeneca vaccines, while 9,579 have been fully vaccinated.
“Despite the above figures, I am pleased to inform you that the country has seen a significant decline in the number of confirmed cases since the beginning of July, and for the past week the number of confirmed cases has been less than 10,” he noted, expressing delight with the responsible manner in which citizens are heeding calls to adhere to the protocols announced by health authorities. President Weah said if the country is to be successful in the fight against the pandemic, it requires the collective support and cooperation of all citizens and residents strictly adhering to the published health protocols.
The Liberian leader pledged that his administration would continue to strengthen the strategic interventions that would urgently interrupt any chains of COVID-19 infections, emphasizing that he would continue to exert efforts to ensure that further spread of coronavirus is halted in Liberia. In order to achieve the rather milestone goal, the President disclosed that he has requested the allocation of additional US$2 million to enable Liberia obtain critical supplies for treatment centers and to assist in general case management and infection control.
He added: “Additionally, an amount of $8 million dollars was recently approved for Liberia by our development partners to help finance the acquisition of much-needed vaccines and supplies.”
According to the President, the government national development agenda is not derailed in spite of the negative impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic. He disclosed that inflation has returned to single digit due to firm and prudent fiscal and monetary policy measures the government instituted, adding that there is also greater stability in the monetary sector while marginal GDP growth is projected.
Peace & development
Meanwhile, President Weah has called on all citizens to play their part in the management and sustenance of the peace being enjoyed, stressing that sustainable development is possible with sustainable peace. “That is why we must all work collectively to maintain the peace we now enjoy. No matter how polarizing our democratic discourse may become, never again should we resort to violence to resolve our differences.
We are all one people, irrespective of our political, ethnic or religious persuasions,” President Weah admonished. The President called on religious leaders who are bent on using their platforms to predict religious war to instead use their influence to preach peace, prosperity and development.
“Today, Liberia is a nation that is at peace with itself, and with its neighbors. Let us all play our part to ensure that there will be no war again in our beloved country,” he noted. The President said Government will continue to create the conditions necessary for the rights of every Liberian to be fully respected, regardless of political background, religion or ethnicity.
“Each and every one of us has a stake in the future of our beloved country. We should therefore play our part in ensuring that we do not engage in acts that could derail the hard-earned peace that we now enjoy. We have reached this far as a Nation through the toil and tears of our forefathers,” the President stated. The Liberian leader used the occasion to remind Liberians of the ultimate sacrifices bore by the founding fathers who he said laid the bedrock for what was to become the Lone Star on the African continent.
He noted: “Our rich and shared history is filled with tales of triumphs and tribulations. But despite the many trials we have faced throughout the course of our history, we have remained resilient, realizing that this nation is our common patrimony. My fellow citizens, our unity in diversity and our resilience as a Nation has set the foundation for us to deliver peace and prosperity for generations yet unborn.” He said this year’s Independence Anniversary theme, “Together, We Are Stronger: Fighting COVID-19 and Achieving Development, Peace, Human Rights, Justice, Health and Prosperity for All” reflects the unique values and collective experience of Liberians as a resilient people who have prevailed through many adversities.
Applauding the national orator
President Weah thanked this year’s 26 Day Orator, Dr. Julius Julukon Sarwolo Nelson, President of the University of Liberia, for what he termed “the magnificent way he expounded and expanded on this theme during his excellent Oration.” He said the oration eloquently delivered, carefully researched and historically instructive came as no surprise to him, given that the orator is a renowned academic and scholar.
“We will all do well to learn the important lessons and adopt the practical solutions that have been prescribed by the learned Professor to guide us in our collective behavior and attitudes, as we together seek to become stronger in fighting the deadly Coronavirus, while at the same time striving to achieve development, peace, human rights, justice, health and prosperity for all.” The President also congratulated all Liberians at home and abroad on the auspicious occasion marking the 174th Independence Day celebration of the Republic.
The lone survivor of the nine employees of WAEC narrates nightmare on sinking vessel
The lone survivor of the nine employees of the West African Examination Council that were onboard the vessel NIKO IVANKA that sunk late Saturday, July 17, 2021, near the coast of Marshall City in Margibi County has been recounting his ordeal here.
“It was by God’s divine grace and not any human effort that I made it through and I also pray that the same grace by which I was successful will extend to my colleagues who have not yet been found, that they will find them”, Mr. Raymond C. Young explains to Joy Fm 101.5 on Wednesday, July 21, 2021, in Monrovia via mobile phone.
“We got to the pearl around 4 pm. The vessel was carrying lots of assorted items from what I did notice, it had cement, those jumbo bags from Cemenco, when I asked one of the crew members, he said they loaded about seven of those trucks onboard. They had rice, two LEC transformers, not those ones on the pole but those big ones that are planted on the ground, there were zinc, four drums of fuel, and other assorted items”, he says.
Mr. Young narrates that they took off from the Freeport of Monrovia at about one minute after seven Monrovia time on Saturday morning, July 17, 2021, and sailed smoothly initially, observing the area features of Monrovia. “You could see the American Embassy, the Executive Mansion, JFK, and then somebody posted that the engine went off.”
He continued that after the engine failed, the crew brought a heavy [diesel] generator which was used to continue the voyage, but noted that hence, an atmosphere of unease gripped everyone onboard that something sinister was looming.
“The picture I sent into our chatroom, it was a highly rustic vessel; so the process of even boarding the vessel itself was very risky; the chance of even falling into the pearl was highly likely”, he explains.
At least 15 people missing after ship sinks in Liberia: According to report, at least persons on board the sinking Niko Ivanka have been rescued with the help of the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia along with the Commissioner of the Liberia Maritime Authority informed journalists Sunday morning that additional 15-17 people are still missing.
Search and rescue operations are ongoing, a coastguard official said at a news conference in the capital Monrovia. He added that some people had been rescued on Saturday night as the ship was sinking.
The head of Liberia’s Maritime Authority Eugene Lenn Nagbe told reporters that the vessel in question had earlier been placed “under detention orders” because it was unseaworthy. Liberian daily FrontPage Africa reported on Saturday night that 21 people were aboard the vessel and a rescue operation began after it sent out a distress call.
- PFSO means Port Facility Security Officer
- ISPFS means International Ship and Port Facility Security
- SOLAS means Safety of Life at Sea.
Robert International Airport To Undergo Reform. The Roberts International Airport had been a source of pride for Liberians at some point before our civil war. Built by the U.S. government during World War II about 45 kilometers from Monrovia and subsequently operated by Pan American World Airways until 1984, the airport had hosted direct flights from New York and re-fueled planes headed for Accra, Nairobi and Johannesburg. In addition to being Liberia’s first point of contact for many international travelers, Roberts was also a key component of Liberia’s economic infrastructure, servicing cargo planes flying to and from the region.
Stating The Problems: Before President Weah took office in January 2018, one of the major revenue generating areas(The Cargo Section)of the airport was outsourced in 2017. The Airport currently has a liability of more than US$900,000 in debt( Payment to NASSCORP from 2017 August up to present). The Airport which monthly revenue before the pandemic is said to be approximately US$1 million can not cover the costs of running the Airport. Though operational with the support of government subsidies, Roberts remains in dire need of emergency assistance for its “Power” situation. Operating on a cash basis and having no robust system of accounting for income and spending, the airport’s internal structure invited staff corruption. The staff is nearly triple the size necessary to operate the facilities—a problem exacerbated by the political practice of using civil service positions as the means of employment. At the same time, Roberts International Airport lacks the skilled personnel critical for successful operation.
The Challenges: Roberts International Airport is in a nightmare. It is a place where high level of Undermining and Deception have brought about a lack of financial accountability fostered endemic corruption; it is a place where the workforce is bloated and poorly trained, and finally it is a place where the country’s volatile political climate has created uncertainties about efforts aimed at changing the airport’s culture.
Starting The Reform Process: These are some major reform steps needed if we are to get the Airport back on course.
*There should be a financial controls put into place.
*Overhauling of the airport’s human resource practices.
*Training and preparing airport staff to sustain the reforms.
Financial controls: The first priority at the Roberts International Airport will be securing the revenue flow. You can’t do anything without money. People cannot be coming to the airport and paying bills, and the money isn’t accounted for. So there should be delineating reforms to keep track of the airport’s revenue flow.
Eliminate travel allowances for trips to
Monrovia, which often totaled as much as
US$100 to US$150, as well as weekly $30 to $50 snack subsidies for group managers. Reduced the budget of the airport’s public relations department and cut unnecessary costs.
Optimizing capacity: For an Airport that is deep in debt, identifying the most efficient number and placement of staff would be a key component in limiting expenditures and identifying staffing needs for the future. There should be an audit process of identifying areas for workforce cutbacks, and organizational structure, including staff numbers for specific departments.
There should be layoff of some of the passengers service staff, many of whom are partisans without basic training in said department.
You can’t have people in one segment of the organization trying to do things that are the responsibilities of another area, it leads to problems.
Take the security sector from the foreigner and let Liberian take charge.
Enlist outside agency the Ministry of Labor, to help assess the quality of airport staff.
Group managers should be asked to
submit names of employees to retain and those to lay off. If group managers dragged their feet, decisions should be made using skill and experience level as the main criterion.
Begin with larger departments such as security and operations, and progressively moved to smaller departments including financial sections. There should be an offered of voluntary retirement packages—immediate pensions of 40% of their salaries in addition to small severance payments—to employees close to retirement age. Employees who did not qualify for retirement received larger immediate severance packages: two months’ salary, payments for accumulated leave, and a month’s salary for each year they worked at the Airport.
Finally, the reforms will initially be difficult to implement as a result of resistance from both airport management and staff. Layoffs and benefit cuts will anger the rank and file. Introducing cuts to travel allowances, staff support for reforms will began to wane.
The reforms will alienate some managers as well as staffers. For example,deputy managing directors or staffers who are nearing retirement or are not qualify to keep their positions under this reform, will be forced to choose between a demotion and a severance package.
On this note, appointing a Reformer as the Managing Director without interference from the Executive and other government officials, will redirect the future of the Robert International Airport on the right trajectory.
Written By: Duddee Finishson, Political Scientist, Revolutionary and A Political Strategiet