By: Varney Dukuly
MONROVIA: Jefferson Tamba Koijee, Monrovia City Mayor, who has been under intense and widespread public criticisms, especially by citizens and residents of the Liberian Capital for its extreme filthiness says the City Government is “seriously challenged” as regards its efforts aimed at cleaning Monrovia of the stockpiles of garbage and other unpleasant wastes.
“The city is currently challenged. We are facing some serious challenges; that is why the politicians will say: go clean the city,” said Koijee.
Speaking at an intellectual center over the weekend, Koijee called on his critics to face him on the critical issues affecting the city residents and not to settle on what he characterizes as “misinformation and careless propaganda.”
Critics of the Monrovia City Mayor and health analysts say mountains of trash attract bugs and rodents that cause serious health hazards in residential communities.
Stockpiles of garbage also create problems including the blocking of drainage systems, thus making sanitation systems in the city and its environs to overflow, according to other health analysts.
Such conditions of Monrovia sparked a row in 2021 between the Lord Mayor of Monrovia, Jefferson Tamba Koijee, and some members of the diplomatic community in Monrovia who have been investing in the Monrovia City Government’s Waste Management with millions of dollars over the years.
For example, Ambassador Laurent Delahousse, Head of EU Delegation and EU Ambassador accredited near Monrovia, in 2021, told a forum that “Monrovia is the dirtiest city of the many places I have visited in my work in Africa.” However, the EU Diplomat, in less than 24 hours, then, retracted this assertion, with an apology.
Nevertheless, at the local intellectual center over the weekend in Monrovia, Mayor Koijee, who is also Secretary General of the governing Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), asserted that the filthiness of the city has become the joy of some Liberian politicians who want to capture state power via the 10, October, 2023 Presidential and Legislative elections.
“I want to say to the public that Monrovia is challenged, and some of our friends say to us that they don’t care if it caused them to defame the image of this country; if that is the basis to give them state power, they will joyfully do it, and today, we are catching some difficulties,” Koijee told the intellectual forum.
According to him, the issue of waste is far above the debate of politics, religion or tribe. He said waste management requires summoning the collecting efforts of citizens and residents. However, Lord Mayor Koijee indicated that his responsibility at the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC) is being politicized.
He warned those who are politicizing his responsibility as a mayor to desist.
“We want our people to take responsibility, and change your mind in a way you conduct yourselves and the way you handle our waste management situation in the country. It is not just the Monrovia City government and its taskforce. We are asking you to revisit your mindset because when the city is clean, it brings joy not only to the Mayor but the City in which you are residing,” he added.
From 2015-2021, there were four major solid waste projects run by Cities Alliance, and funded by the World Bank (WB) and European Union (EU), focusing on waste management in Liberia.
The US$3 million “Delivering Climate-Resilient Solid Waste Management Services in Greater, Liberia Through Community-Based Enterprises” project was the last.
A year on from Cities Alliance’s March 2022 withdrawal from Liberia, a New Narratives/Daily Observer investigation found the project had failed on most measures.
A micro-loan scheme designed to empower community-based enterprises (CBEs) to do recycling and composting never happened.
Another “revolving” loan scheme for CBEs doing waste management handed out US$267,000 in loans but US$245,000 appears to have vanished.
An investigation could only establish that a handful of the loan recipients were operating as intended.
Many had never operated at all or had moved into other businesses.
The Technical Committee led by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, according to Cities Alliance, appears not to have monitored the loan repayments which should have been repaid in full by this month.
The Ministry refused to provide documentation about the loan scheme but a report provided to NN/Daily Observer found just US$20,500 had been repaid.