Harsh Conditions Hit West Point Housing Dwellers

By J. Dennis Weah

Relocated West Pointers at the government-built housing units in VOA outside Monrovia are complaining of the incompletion of construction works at the facility and difficulties faced to earn a living since they moved to their new homes made available because of the sea erosion back in 2014, adding that most of the houses are unfinished and they are not conducive to live in, besides they are challenged with issues of economic and basic social services.

    “Some of the houses we are living in are not completed, no bathrooms, no steps, ceilings and others, and we have to use the nearby bushes as restrooms,” complained Williette Bryant, one of the residents of the area.

    Madam Bryant who is a retired captain of the Liberia National Fire Service, said she goes frequently into the Township of West Point where she earlier lived to engage fishermen, (friends) and relatives to beg for help to make ends meet for her grandchildren.

    As a means of providing alternative livelihood for the victims of the sea disaster mid-2014, the government in 2016, constructed temporary zinc structures when an estimated sixty family heads were relocated to the VOA housing construction site by the National Housing Authority (NHA) and later embarked on the construction of 54 units equivalent to 108 apartments for permanent homes. In 2020, another torrential wave of the ocean hit West Point destroying dozens of homes and other business centers that increased the amount of homelessness.

    Bryant is not just the only one affected by the natural disaster but among thousands of West Pointers who are now feeling the setback of the sea erosion. Evelyn Morris a downtrodden mother who said she did cast her vote for President George Manneh Weah in the 2017 presidential election told summed up her plight thus “We are here suffering, no food, no hospital, and we go in the bushes to get palm thatches to fix brooms every day to sell and buy food. No school for our children, we are begging President Weah to come here and see us.

    We heard he was coming here at a certain time, but his convoy turned around and went back, another election is coming, and we are still thinking about him so that’s the same way he too should think about us,” says Evelyn.

    Cecelia Nimely, the Co-Chairperson at the community, whose pity led her to organize tutorial classes for children at the estate after she had appealed to a handful of volunteers to teach them at the elementary level, is now carrying out the self-initiative in at least two of the unfinished buildings.

    “They are asked to pay a contribution of three hundred Liberian dollars per student which is equated to roughly two United States dollars. We are facing hard times here. It is not easy on us; we have a lot of old people living here with us who do not have breadwinners. The children are all over the estate and there is no school and clinic and this is the reason I thought about us rendering our services to help the children learn because time is wasted. Two women have given birth on the road while taking them at the clinic in VOA for delivery. We put lappers around them and called on the midwife to help in the process. It was in recent time when three water pumps were built here provided by certain organizations”, she said.

    David Broh is the Coordinator of West Point Estate Management Team working to ensure the buildings that are left to complete are not vandalized by thieves overnight, he states.

     “People were breaking into some of the houses that are emptied to steal the electric wires and some of the materials. We once had a meeting here with the Managing Director of the National Housing Authority, Celia Cuffy Brown and following the discussion we set up a watch team. The buildings are built without kitchens, some of the houses do not have windows, doors and people are just living in them because they don’t have a place to stay. I tell President George Weah thank you because we hear that they are building housing units all over the country. But I think we were the first to have a disaster in this country. And at that time, he was a senator . We voted for him, and we also voted for him to become president but since then he cannot come to us, and we are looking up to him to finish our project.”

    Dolphin Construction Ltd. is the construction group inscribed on a signboard at the West Point Housing Project when our reporter visited the site. According to Broh, there were nine companies building the units but only three companies completed their work by painting the buildings, but the balance six companies have not completed their portion of the work. The project was projected for completion within a timeframe of six months. But the visibility of incompleteness of construction works at the ‘West Point estate’ as the residents referred to it, is an alarming factor that activates their vulnerability.

     “The Government of Liberia through the National Housing Authority secured US1.25 million in the 2017-2018 National Budget for the West Point Sea erosion victims.

     “Our people need major assistance like shelter, food, and clothing to continue their normal lives. Since 2014 the sea has been encroaching on us, when we look at the data we collected, we had over 481 victims in 2014 and lately in 2020 an addition of 232. We are calling on the government to complete the housing project and better the lives of our people” says Daniel Grant, the President of the Disaster Victims Association in West Point.

    The situation for Bryant and others at the West Point Housing Units in VOA remains a challenge for the government to engage. “No food over there and I am compelled to come back to West Point to find something to survive because there we don’t have means to get money, everybody is selling sugar and gari and we that live there are not many. You can’t make money when everybody is selling and buying the same goods from each other. Some of us have not received the money they promised to give us, we want to do petit business but there’s no money to start” Bryant discloses.

    The impacts of coastal erosion in subsequent years placed high risks on the livelihoods of people living in affected communities like West Point that gave rise to the relocation of several families under the government’s program at VOA outside Monrovia.

 

Comments are closed.