As the rainy season enters its most torrential phase, and as the coastal lines continue to recede into the sea, Liberians continue to bear the brunt of mounting disasters that are flooding and burning down homes, with properties and lives being lost in some instances. In the wake these troubling developments, President George Manneh Weah on Monday, July 13, 2020 established an emergency relief intervention program to cater to the needs of those affected by various types of disasters in the country. The President Weah Disaster Response Program (PDRP) is accordingly going to work with the National Disaster Management Agency to mitigate disasters that affect public health and safety, while reducing poverty in line with the government’s Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development. But hardly had the ink dried off the president’s pronouncement, then Montserrado’s firebrand Senator Abraham Darius Dillon thrashed the establishment of a “Presidential Relief Committee” in President Weah’s own name as “deceptive” and savoring of “criminality”. As The Analyst has gathered, Senator Dillon’s hackles are pricked because the National Disaster Relief Agency and the National Fire Service are institutions clothed with the statutory mandate to address disaster relief issues but are derelict with their functions in serving the Liberian people.
What is in the President’s Disaster Response Program?
According to the office of the President, the first segment of the PDRP’s work will focus on affected communities in the Montserrado area and cater to a range of tragedies, including those affected by coastal erosion, flash flood, river flood and windstorm. More than 6, 750 households in over 47 communities are expected benefit during this period.
Those who are expected to benefit will receive cash transfers for rent and business grants in cases of victims whose homes were completely damaged. The grants will help bring relief to affected businesses. Others will also be given mattresses, zinc, nail, rice, clothing, death subsidies, amongst a host of items.
The families of the five people that died on 18th Street Sinkor following heavy rains are also expected to receive death benefits totaling U.S. $5,000.00.
“The new scheme is a demonstration of the Weah-led administration’s concern for the plight of ordinary people during this difficult period,” a release from the President’s office stated.
The Presidential Disaster Response Program reportedly kicked off with a distribution of the listed items in New Kru Town, one of the targeted communities, Monday, July 13, 2020. Other areas to form part of the first phase are West Point and 18th Street (wisdom community). Over 117 houses, 566 households and 2,830 people are expected to benefit in the three communities.
Senator Dillon’s Beef
Apparently gauging the mounting disasters affecting Montserrado County and parts adjacent, Senator Darius Dillon on June 29, 2020 wrote the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, Senator Albert T. Chie, bringing to the Senate’s attention the recent wave of outbreak of fires and flood disasters occurring in and around Montserrado County and other parts of Liberia.
“These disasters, resulting from heavy rainstorms and fire outbreaks are gravely affecting the safety and well-being of our people, including babies, the elderly as well as some with physical disabilities. Their homes and other properties are being destroyed, leaving so many of them homeless,” lamented Senator in his letter to Pro Tempore Chie.
“Mr. President Pro Tempore, our people are calling upon us to individually intervene in their situation. This is troubling, especially so that we have national institutions responsible for such purposes. It seems to me that the National Disaster Relief Committee and the National Fire Service either are being derelict in their duties and responsibilities to our people as enshrined by law, or there may be challenges for their inaction. Either way, we need to know to ensure the necessary action is taken.
I am therefore, respectfully calling for intervention of the Senate to take urgent appropriate actions, and where necessary, summon authorities of the National Disaster Relief Committee and National Fire Service before Plenary to answer to relevant questions regarding these concerns so as to help bring the needy relief to our people,” stated Senator Dillon.
In the wake of Senator Dillon having earlier written the Senate to cite authorities of the National Disaster Relief Committee and the National Fire Service to answer questions relating to dereliction of duty or job challenges; and especially based upon President Weah’s establishment of his PDRP when in fact there are institutions established to handle such occurring disasters, Senator Dillon last evening took to social media in a very angry mood.
“Consistent with our function to properly represent the aspirations and interests of our people and provide oversight duties, we wrote the Senate, calling attention of the Senate to the plight of our people victimized by various kinds of disasters, fires, floods, etc. We called upon the Senate to summon authorities of the National Disaster Relief Agency and National Fire Service to appear and show cause as to why they are derelict with their functions in serving our people. Senate is expected to act tomorrow on our communication!
And BAM!! Pres. George Weah jumps to set up “Presidential Relief Committee” in his name. Good intervention though, but it must be stated clearly that it is PUBLIC money being used, and not anyone’s PERSONAL money!! We must desist from using PUBLIC money in our own names and acting like “HUMANITARIAN”. To do so is not only DECEPTIVE, it also savors CRIMINALITY!!” fumed Senator Dillon.
Many have responded via social media to Senator Dillon’s statement regarding President Weah’s establishment of a presidential disaster relief program when there are legitimate agencies mandated to handle such disasters in the country.
“Why another disaster relief team when we already have an agency responsible for that?” a concerned Liberian wondered.
“That’s why Liberians must reject CDC Weah praise-singing lawmakers and aspirants and vote for people who will make Weah accountable and stop him from