At age 51, President George Weah is just too young than the city that he is seated and leading his people. But the new leader who has a boyhood memory of the nation’s capital has plans that would transform it into one of the beautiful places on planet earth.
Founded in April 1822, Monrovia is amongst the oldest cities in the world. Like any ancient town or city, the Liberian capital has its own history: a home to free African slaves, haven to African dissidents fighting against colonial rule and major battle ground for opposing factions during the country’s civil war.
Housing problem, overpopulation, poor sanitation and infrastructure deficit are some vestiges of the war depriving Monrovia of a modern city status. Weah Wants to change this.
Home to more than one million people, Monrovia’s natural outlook is appealing to people wanting to develop it. Geography reads that its lies along the Cape Mesurado peninsula, between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mesurado River whose mouth forms a natural harbor.
It is this Mesurado River, its adjoining streams and the nearby mangrove swamp called Balli Island that Weah wants to build the modern Monrovia city. The President has already reached agreement with the Indians to build an international conference center that will host about 4,000 people.
The story of the proposed new city cannot be narrated by anybody than the man who has the vision and the master plan- President George Mannah Weah
On Monday March 25, after touring the Balli Island, the President recounted. “For many years during my childhood, growing up in Claratown on Bushrod Island just across the water over there, and playing on the shores of nearby Stockton Creek, I used to look in this direction and see this little island that we are now standing on, shimmering in the distance.
“I often wondered what was over here, because I didn’t know anyone who knew what was over here. There was no road, no bridge, or ferry to get over here.
“And then the dreams began,” he said.
“In my dreams, I began to see this island being developed as a shining new city across the water from the squalor of my slum. I began to see a new Monrovia arising from the ashes of the old city. In my dreams, I saw skyscrapers, office buildings, shopping malls, banks, insurance companies, night clubs, shining lights and beautiful colors. And above all, in my dreams I saw happy, prosperous people, going about their business and meeting and greeting each other.
Weah says that dream has never left him. “Even today, whenever I am crossing the Gabriel Tucker Bridge, I look in this direction and wonder whether my dream will ever come true.
“Today, God has blessed me and you have made me your President and your leader. And by so doing, you have given me the opportunity to make that dream come true, for the benefit of all Liberians.
“In the Holy Bible, it is written in Proverbs 29:18 that, “where there is no vision the people perish”. The development of this island, Balli Island, is my vision, and with the help of God, we will make it a reality. It will be called “Monrovia City”, and will be a Central Business District for Monrovia.
In the coming days the President said he will issue an Executive Order establishing a Monrovia City Development Authority, that will have responsibility for the development and promotion of Monrovia City as a prominent suburb of our capital, to cater for business, tourism, and entertainment.
He said “the Government of the Republic of India, spontaneously and of their own volition, recently approached our Government with a formal offer to build a world-class modern convention center, at their own cost and expense, as a gift from the People of India to the People of Liberia. We were both over-joyed and overwhelmed by their generosity, and graciously accepted their gift on behalf of the Liberian people.
“There were two conditions attached to the offer, however. The first was that we would be required to name the conference center in honor of Mahatma Gandhi, who was the leader of the Indian independence movement against British rule. The second condition was that the Liberian government would give the land on which the conference center will be built.
“We are delighted to name this conference center after Mr. Gandhi, who was a revered man of peace and advocate of non-violence throughout his entire political career. And we have agreed to give the required acreage here on Balli Island for construction of the “Mahatma Gandhi International Conference Center”, which the Indian Government has been pleased to accept.
“And so today, as we break ground for this important building that will constitute a significant addition to our infrastructure, I want to thank the Government and People of India, on behalf of the People of Liberia, and in my own name, for their kindness and generosity. The Mahatma Gandhi International Conference Center will serve as the anchor development and catalyst for the development of Monrovia City, and will become the important and necessary first step to making our dream a reality.’