On Saturday, 3 March 2018, President George Weah, along with his wife, some Cabinet Ministers and the Mayor of Monrovia, Mr. Jefferson Koijee, carried out a clean-up campaign in some sections of Monrovia. Photos of the President and team made their rounds on social media over the weekend. The exercise was said to be in promotion of a ‘clean’ Monrovia.
It is true, many sections of Monrovia are a ‘sore’ to the eye and carry a bad name for the city. It is not only Sonie Wen, Red Light and West Point that are filthy dirty. The junction of Broad and Randall Streets smell so bad, one can hardly pass around those areas without holding his/her nose. The same can be said of the junction of Buchanan and Benson Streets, just to name a few other places where rubbish is dumped at random.
Something needs to be done, and urgently, because Monrovia is being turned into a big dumpsite. Unfortunately, the weekend gesture of the President and his team can only be seen as a public relations stunt. The gesture does not even deserve to be called a band-aid solution. A band-aid is a small piece of medicinal cloth which is applied on a wound temporarily to see that the wound is not getting worse. A band-aid solution therefore is a temporary solution to a problem. The public relations exercise by President George Weah and his team would have been considered a band-aid solution if their gesture provided some sort of a solution, howbeit temporary.
What happened over the weekend does not come anywhere near finding a temporary solution, let alone dealing with the real cause of the problem of a filthy, dirty and stinking Monrovia.
Monrovia, the capital city of Africa’s oldest republic, has been characterized by a repugnant stench for more than a generation now, without any of its leaders going to the root of the problem. Instead they have masqueraded with public relations stunts, without making any attempt at addressing the root causes of the problem.
Those who make up President George Weah’s ‘praise and worship choir’ have not wasted time in extolling him for picking up the shovel and setting an example at cleaning up Monrovia, forgetting that, after that public relations stunt, Monrovia will be returning to what it had always been over the decades – a dirty stinking capital city.
President George Weah’s public relations stunt is nothing new. Such public relations exercises took place during the administrations of William V. S. Tubman, William R. Tolbert, Samuel Kanyon Doe, and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. And now we have President George Weah doing what his predecessors have been doing without addressing the core of the problem of a dirty Monrovia. So, one is right to ask if the presidency of George Weah will be anything different from that of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration, which he criticized so bitterly, or are we to expect business as usual.
Liberia does not need public relations exercises from its leaders any more. What they need for their leaders to do is to propose and implement well thought-out solutions to long drawn-out problems.
Monrovia’s filthiness is so serious that something has to be done. It is so serious that it has health implications for the residents of Monrovia. Maybe a ‘Clean Monrovia Commission’ or maybe the establishment of a Sanitations Department with the Monrovia City Corporation. The Liberian leadership could arrange for an exchange of visits between the officials of the cities of Monrovia and Kigali (Rwanda), Africa’s cleanest city, so that officials of the Monrovia City Corporation can learn a thing or two about how to keep Monrovia clean. This is what is needed instead of points scoring by President George Weah and his team!