By: Anthony Q. Jiffan, Jr. & Rancy S. Teewia
The Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Public Works has warned against the construction of structures in the alleys around communities in the country, and has established a Zoning Taskforce that will deal with violators without compromised. “As we launch the Zoning Task Force today, let the word go forth to violators of Zoning Regulations that the taskforce will confront them without compromised”.
Public Works Minister Mobutu Vlah Nyenpan spoke at a program last Wednesday, February 5, 2020, when the Ministry of Public Works in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning launched a Special Zoning Taskforce comprising personnel of the Zoning Division and other officials, saying that structures built in alleys in violation of the zoning laws will be affected without compensation.
During the program at which the Minister warned violators of zoning regulations to desist or face the taskforce, was also used to turn over two new Toyota Hilux Pickups to the taskforce.
Min. Nyenpan, who launched the Taskforce, said violations of zoning regulation in Liberia have been routine. The Minister intimated that zoning violations have escalated, terming the situation as indiscipline on the part of residents that undermines the efforts of government in the enforcement of zoning regulations.
The Public Works Ministry’s strongman said with funding from the National Road Fund (NRF) and other development partners, the Ministry in sync with the Government’s Pro -poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) will do all to impact infrastructural development.
Noting that many Liberians are in the constant habit of building on alleys without getting zoning permits from the Ministry of Public Works, the minister said “The blocking of alleyways by residents is the greatest degree of disservice to the government, and it must be condemned by all well-meaning Liberians.”
According to him, the situation has caused and continues to make government to spend money to even those who are given squatter’s right.
Nyenpan said people building in alleys will be confronted with no mercy; he indicated that their actions will have no political consideration.
“So if you are not doing the right thing now, as we launch this taskforce, start to do the right thing before you complain.” The Public Works Minister said it is unlawful for citizens to build structures without obtaining zoning permit. The Minister added that those who constructed their structures without obtaining a zoning permit from the Ministry of Public Works can still go to the ministry for what he terms as post construction permit, a permit which will authenticate as to whether the structure is properly positioned.
According to him, one of the reasons why the government has decided to launch the project is to increase domestic revenue mobilization, stressing that government’s foreign exchange earnings is low as a result of the country’s inability to export. “We must be strong to mobilize domestic revenue,” he said.
He however announced that plans are underway for the acquisition of modern, state of the art earth-moving equipment so as to tackle the challenges greeting the infrastructure sector.
Another point the Minister stressed is the imprudent attitude by residents along the Somalia Drive road. Minister Nyenpan noted that the Japanese company constructing the Somalia Drive Road has complained on numerous occasions that some Liberians living along the Somalia Drive dumped garbage on the road at midnight, a situation he said is causing delayed of the project.
He is however calling on residents in the area who are carrying on such wanton act to desist as it is not in the interest of the country and its developmental agenda – the Pro Poor Agenda for Development and Prosperity (PAPD).
Minister Nyenpan asserted that the Japanese have written the government about this unpatriotic act of carelessness by some Liberians, informing the government that if they do not stop it will lead to the persistent delay of the project.
This is because “when they dumped the garbage at night, the contractors will have to clear it in the morning before the start work. This caused a serious delay to their works, while functionaries continue to ask asked when, “When will the project be completed while we ourselves are delaying it”.
For his part, the Director of Zoning at the Ministry of Public Works, Jocelia Tarplah said the constitution of the Taskforce is to mitigate the increasing wave of zoning violations in the country. Ms. Tarplah, citing Section 102 of the Zoning Law of 1938, said all structures are to be 15ft away from the property line, stressing that citizens must obtain permit BEFORE, DURING or AFTER construction.
Also speaking, the Senior Economic Policy Advisor to the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Rufus Darkortey lauded the Ministry of Public Works for the thoughtfulness, and said it will aid in the mobilization of domestic revenue.
Darkortey stressed that the CDC led Government under the watchful eyes of President George Manneh Weah will shift the paradigm of domestic revenue generation, noting that service delivery is being dispensed in its truest sense.
In an effort to enhance the workings of the newly constituted Taskforce, two brand new Toyota Hilux Pickups were donated with funding from the National Road Fund, affirming the Ministry’s seriousness in the fight to mitigate zoning violations in the country.
The senior economic and policy adviser to the minister of finance and development planning and coordinator of the domestic revenue mobilization team further said the work of the taskforce will be significantly important to enhance revenue generation as part of the aggressive pull for domestic revenue mobilization under pillar two of the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and will help to move the revenue envelop from million to billion.
He asserted that domestic resource mobilization is an element to accelerate the pace of development as envisioned by the president. He called on the public to corporate with the zoning taskforce of the country because the more revenue raise the more development Liberia will have with the taskforce.
He disclosed that as the African Development Bank, World Bank and other development partners are helping the development process of Liberia, the citizens should also be motivated and excited to increase domestic revenue mobilization.