By Solomon Watkins/UNDP Trained Development Reporter
An Ariel view of the once market-crowded ELWA Junction being transformed by the Paynesville City Corporation
Following protracted period of war fought in Liberia, coupled with the benefits of a ten-year of fragile peace, it seems that development in areas that were greatly affected by the civil strife is becoming the major priority in the country.
Caldwell Township and Via Town commercial province, both of which are on the Bushrod Island, are some the areas that were affected by the war but have received some level of developmental transformation.
One of the places that recently attracted public attention is the ELWA Junction which is taking undoubtedly a modern shift.
ELWA Junction is located in Paynesville outside Monrovia, Liberia’s main political capital city. ELWA is a major intersection that connects Monrovia to the Paynesville City and the only international air port in Margibi County-Roberts International Air Port.
The future view of the ELWA Junction that welcomes tourists and foreign guests to Monrovia
Construction work ongoing at ELWA Junction includes the building of an artificial waterfall which is currently being surrounded by lights and a flower garden. Also, building of sidewalk for predestines and planting of flowers, plastering of the floor are among many of the works ongoing at the ELWA Junction.
Moreover, the fencing of various curves of the four major routes of the ELWA is nearing completion. The area is being fenced with mental irons placed between various cement pillars that have reached its full potential of beautification. Up to the publication of this report, men were still at work at the ELWA.
Adding more attractions to the area in Paynesville, the National Social Security and Welfare Corporation (NASSCORP) has constructed a new high rise multipurpose complex of the Corporation. The multimillion dollars building, according to authorities, cost over US$10 million, and is expected to be rented or given to individuals of interest for whatever purpose.
According to the Director of Public Relations (PR) of the Paynesville City Corporation (PCC), Jani K. Jallah the project which is currently ongoing is aimed at beautifying the ELWA Junction that connects the Country’s Political Capitol-Monrovia- and the Paynesville City to the only international Air Port in Margibi ounty.
PCC’s Director of PR said the total estimated cost of the project is over hundred thousand of United States Dollars (over US$100,000).
According to her, the project is mainly being sponsored by NASSCORP. She said NASSCORP has provided for the beautification of ELWA Junction the amount of eighty thousand United States Dollars (US$80,000) and that the cash is being managed by the Corporation- NASSCORP.
Additionally, PR Jallah said initial contributions to the project was provided by some well-meaning Liberians including business owners in the Paynesville vicinity but she refused to provide the total initial amount collected from the business entities and well meaning individuals.
She noted that after the implementation of the project, a detail report on the project will be provided outlining actual amount received and used.
Also, when asked about the contractor doing the work, PCC PR said the project is a PCC Project.
“We asked the General Services Agency (GSA) for some of their technicians who are currently working along with us to have the project completed. We actually did not choose to get people from other places to carry out this project. What we did was to use the local resources to benefit residents of the Paynesville Community,” she noted.
In an effort to ensure that the development work ongoing will not jeopardize normal business operation of petty traders, commercial vehicle drivers, money exchangers, among others transacting businesses at the ELWA Junction, the PCC PR Director said the PCC has already secured a spot at a well-known place, named “Sam Town.”
The area is located opposite the Isaac A. Davis School and adjacent the Total Filling Station.
Meanwhile, in the wake of the dedication of the project, some Liberians predominately businessmen and women have began lauding the Government of Liberia effort for being farsighted in carrying out the modernization project of the Junction.
Some business people including, motorcyclists, petty traders, shoe shine boys, money exchangers and commercial vehicles drivers as well as passerby told this paper that they are happy for the level of development ongoing at the ELWA Junction. Some even suggested more development work that the PCC could undertake at the ELWA including a construction of an over head bridge for pedestrians since the proliferation of business people at the ELWA would even increased following the completion of the ongoing project.
However, most of those spoken to are also calling on the government/PCC authorities to provide for them a durable place with shelter and electricity where they will be able to transact peacefully their businesses without being threatened.
In addition, some of critical views expressed concern over the durability of the construction after its completion and whether or not many Liberians will appreciate the initiative of PCC by extension, the Government.
George Kulu, a commercial motorcycles and former national Coordinator of the defunct Liberia Motorcycles Transport Union (LMTU) said although he appreciate the development ongoing at the Junction, there hasn’t been any specific place suggested for them to park.
George said the PCC has not provided for them a parking lot where those who desire to ride motorcycles will get them something, according to him, makes it difficult for him to fully appreciate the ongoing development work.
He further suggested that the PCC authorities need to create for them a parking lot where Justice Ministry-Liberians can access motorcycles.
George also said there is a need that the Government of Liberia through, PCC expand the ELWA Junction and build an over head bridge for predestines moving along the Junction.
Men at work at the ELWA Junction
“It is not always good to speak bad about what government is doing but I think this road should have been expanded before the PCC commence her work. We even heard of the construction of an overhead bridge due to the deep curved and designed ongoing. We see the other work ongoing but the over head bridge is still missing. I think the government needs to take the building of an over head bridge for our people into consideration,” George noted.
George calls for the construction of an over head bridge was buttressed by Sis. Gomah Sumo, a 55 year old woman selling larpa at the ELWA Junction. Sis
Gomah suggested that “if the Government will thank of building an over head bridge it should be something that will last long for the good of all of Liberians. It should not be like the one which was at University of Liberia that later, Public works got to demolish it. We need projects that will last very long not for few days.”
For his part, Amos G. Williams, a commercial vehicle driver noted that although he welcomes the development ongoing at the ELWA Junction, he hopes said work will be durable to benefit the people of Liberia.
“We saw the light poles planted by the Liberia Electricity Corporation at the beginning of Madam Sirleaf’s regain how it could not substantially benefit the Liberian people. We are also seeing the road projects constructed in and around the country. Today we are again seeing a new intervention headed by the PCC at ELWA Junction, I am only hoping that it will last long for us,” he noted.
Speaking on the issue of parking for commercial drivers, he said: “I have not seeing any sign for us round town commercial drivers, except for those driving on the RIA-Marshall Motor Road. But we that are in town here, there is no space for us”
Also speaking to several shoe-shine boys, Diaco Dolee and Israel Chris said they constrain to thank the government for such initiative but noted that the project crafters did not take into consideration addressing the wellbeing of citizens who transact businesses at the ELWA Junction.
Diaco: “They asked us to go to Sam Town. But we don’t think that’s good idea for us because; up to now there is no work ongoing there to ensure that we can all move there.”
Israel: “while it is truth that the work is a good initiative, the development ongoing should not put stop to those of us ‘hosing’ to sent ourselves to school including universities. The PCC people want us go to a place that is not conducive for citizens.”
A petty trader, Clarence Diggs also pointed out that the new place –Sam Town- secured by PCC authorities for them is in a deplorable state place sign of work ongoing at the Sam Town where they are to be relocated the part of PCC to find for them a parking space.
“I want to thank PCC for the changes ongoing here. I see that they are working and everything is moving on gradually. But my only frustration is about our new location, there is no construction work ongoing there which makes me think that there is no plan for street sellers,” Clarence.
In addition, petty traders currently operating at the Sam Town have expressed their frustration over issues confronting them.
Speaking to the head of local businesses men and women at the Sam Town market place, George Freeman said even though, the new location for peti traders is being appreciated by them, the area currently lacks electricity and other petty traders are not taking advantage of the place which makes buyers not to take delight in the place.
He said at night it is difficult for them to transact businesses due to the huge darkness in the area amidst criminal gangs.
“At night, the criminals from around will gather here, even though, we are yet to experience any attack of the criminals on us, the presence here fear us a lot which caused us sometimes to move our goods nearer the Super Store Supermarket. Again, the PCC people don’t understand this. Up to 11 PM, the PCC people forcibly take away our goods,” George noted.
Darling-girl Williams and Monyou Tarr were two petty traders who claimed to be victims of the PCC alleged harassment at night and during broad day light.
Darling-girl: “the people are not buying here but on many occasions since we moved here, the PCC people take our goods, last month April, I pay L$500,000 to them before they can release my goods. But when I came, my goods were incomplete. This is something that happens to us on a daily basic especially when we just move out of this place or come on the road.”
Notwithstanding, PCC says, it remains determined to implement the Paynesville City orneriness and to continuously involve in itself with developmental activities aimed at beautifying places in Paynesville that needs attraction when funds are made available or solicited.