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Monrovia Rehabilitation Project Case Study

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1920s-30s. EXECUTIVE MANSION IS LEFT, BOUNDED BY BROAD STREET BOTTOM AND ASHMUN STREET TOP.

CWA IS TOP RIGHT. BUSHROD ISLAND AND SMALLER ISLAND ARE AT TOP

Date written: March 18, 2015. By Patmandela K. Davies

Monrovia Rehabilitation Project Case Study

The City of Monrovia needs an overwhelming reconstruction that would affect the entire Montserrado County, and in the near future the entire country. The reinforcement of zoning laws can be effective by first depopulating the City of Monrovia in building temporary or permanent communities outside Montserrado Country. The issues with establishing permanent communities at first is that you put citizens in mortgage obligation they may not be prepared for depending on how soon government wants to start the project. Also, government should be financially equipped to handle the task at hand.

The counties of Bomi, Margibi and Bong are three areas perfectly situated to serve as temporary layout communities because of their proximity to Montserrado Country. The first groups affected should be those citizens living in homes that don’t meet the standards of a modern city. The next are commercial buildings, churches, mosques, schools etcetera. After the demolishing and clearing of these communities, government can now apply eminent domain to achieve space for the layout of roads, stureets, avenues, place, and boulevards in Monrovia. This step will also be including pipe borne water, street lighting, and numbering system with mail boxes. With the help of a committee, selected names of Liberians can be brought forward to be voted upon to name new streets after.

For example these individuals could include the following names, Hon. Albert Port, Madam. Angie Brooks, Judge Teetee Glapor (A Bassa Court Judge, in front of the old Maternity Center). Also including Madam. Mary Antoinette Brown Sherman, Ambassador George Manneh Weah, Hon Mayor. Mary Broh, Hon. Gabriel Baccus Matthews, Ambassador John Adolphus During (Former Chief of Protocol), Hon Mayor. Ellen Ann Sandimanie (Former First Female Mayor of the City of Monrovia), His Excellency President. William R. Tolbert jr., His Excellency President. Samuel K. Doe and our current Commander In Chief Her Excellency President. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. The next process is an overhauling of the sewage and drainage systems. At the end of these processes, land owners of Downtown Monrovia have a choice of building modern private homes, apartment buildings, commercial buildings such as department stores, shops, restaurants, fitness centers etcetera. Land owners should have the options to lease their property if they wish to do so.

Government should also be considerate to a loan process for people who wish to become a home owner after having free access to the temporary housing for a specified time frame. Before each family is granted access to a unit at the temporary community, your entire family will be ID (finger printed) into a data base to encourage the spirit of transparency. A specified time frame should be set as to how long can a family live at the facility. If more time is needed for a family, consideration should be granted based on each family’s situation. As we speak, the government has started building low cost estates; however, more of these need to be established to encourage our citizens to participate in this new mortgage process in Liberia.

Not only the Liberian Government has such process available, but the private sector is doing their part. As each family becomes a home owner, the opportunities exist to continue the process within other counties. At some point, the original land spaces of the temporary area should be developed into modern housing units for sale to interested parties. The overall process should have some exceptional components. For example, in settlements like Caldwell, Virginia, Bentol, Careysburg, CrozierVille, and others, families should be asked to restore their old settlement homes, or if in good condition it would help encourage the preservation of our Liberian culture and history. For the rest of the country, villages and towns should be persevered as well.

In each county, the big cities should be converted into modern cities as well to reflect how we transition into the future. Focused attention to Montserrado County: some of the beautiful aspects of this county are its waterways; however, there are wasted land spaces that can be useful. The swamp, mangrove, some lacks and rivers need to be filled-in to expend the city; this area could be useful for the long talked about Ministerial Complex. Government can now have selected land areas for farming and other reserves. I would suggest that we make provisions to create a county for the Mandingo tribe, somewhere in Lofa County where this group of people is most populated.

The Mandingo is one of the tribe of Liberia; they can be traced in our early history. This gesture could encourage a lasting harmony between our people. If all is said and done, Liberia does not have enough people to occupy this modern city we all envisioned but has never become a reality. We need our brothers and sisters from the Diaspora to be a part of this process. Meaning, Dual Citizenship should be encouraged. The expertise of this group of people is highly needed in Liberia to help us achieve this vision.

I visit Liberia on average four times in a year. Some of the things I can never get used to the traffic congestion in the City of Monrovia. I literally got out of the taxi and walk the rest of the way. At the time when the Gabriel Tucker Bridge was constructed was just before OAU (1979), which makes much sense to me. I think all the talk from “EL they say” during those days to build a bridge across the swamp to connect the Gabriel Tucker Bridge as an alternative to having a smooth traffic today now make sense to me even though I never heard it from Tolbert nor Doe. We can manage and fix the traffic issues from central town to Sinkor, Congo Town and beyond. The alternative traffic rout is building a tunnel under the runway of the James Springs Payne Airport coming from the Jallah’s Town Road. This road connects a road built through Slipway connecting the Gabriel Tucker Bridge.

The Tunnel Way from the Airport should connect the Old road and into the swamp going to GardinersVille and beyond. If the next president of Liberia embrace this idea, not only will we be changing the appearance of our country but attracting investors and building the morale of the Liberian people once and for all.
by: Patmandela Kwijre Davies
(This section below was written ten years ago to the current administration, but no action was taken.)

In recent discussions with my colleagues and fellow compatriots, we recognized that to promote investment in Liberia goes beyond establishing a sense of stability. We are of the opinion that citizens and foreign visitors would be more endeared to a clean and beautiful environment within the capital city and beyond. Also, foreign investors would not only seek the benefit of investing in the Liberian economy but also view the country as a place to raise their children and spur tourism.
Monrovia lacks places for outdoor relaxation and esthetic beauty. It was in this view, that we felt the need to reach out with the idea of building a city square or park in the heart of downtown Monrovia.

My friends and I had specifically thought of the entire city block where the Walker Cinema is situated. (This is between Broad, Lynch, Buchanan, and Carey Streets). The “Monrovia Central Square”, could be an extension of the President’s Beautification Project which is currently underway or taken separately. We are sure that the government could make the necessary arrangements to acquire the piece of land from the original owners at a reasonable price. This block is centrally located and easily accessible within downtown Monrovia.
As a suggestion, the City Park (square) could include a man made pond, walkways for strolling, flower gardens, trees that provide shade, benches for sitting, and an open air performance stage for artist performances.

It could also include somewhere in the center, a statue of Madam Sirleaf encircled in a water fountain. The park could be enclosed in an iron fence providing a beautiful panoramic view that has beautiful lighting.
I hope that you consider this recommendation which ideas have come from several Liberian compatriots residing in the United States. Moreover, we all wish the Sirleaf administration would become first amongst equals in Africa.

Two pictures Monrovia between the 1920s-30s.

The first picture on top: According to Svend Holsoe Note the two separate islands, on the right Providence Island and on the left Gomez Island, which under Tolbert were united. Note the small size of Vai Town on Bushrod Island, with Stockton Creek in the top middle

The second picture: EXECUTIVE MANSION IS LEFT, BOUNDED BY BROAD STREET BOTTOM AND ASHMUN STREET TOP. CWA IS TOP RIGHT. BUSHROD ISLAND AND SMALLER ISLAND ARE AT TOP,

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