Koijee Clarifies “No Donor Support” Statement -Says US Ambassador’s Statement out of context

The City Mayor of Monrovia, Jefferson Koijee has clarified his statement made on February 16, 2020 during the celebration of Monrovia Day, saying it was made to convey a message to residents of Monrovia on the state of affairs of the City Government which according to him the United States Ambassador to Liberia, Michael McCarthy referenced in his op-ed out of context to imply that he (Koijee) expected donor partners to clean the city as their obligation.

The clarification which came through a press statement by the Public Affairs Department of the City Government is coming on the heels of the op-ed published by the US Ambassador raising a lot of issues about the state of the nation which suggests that the country is not being run in the right way.

In a press statement issued by the Public Affairs of the Monrovia City Corporation, it said that the United States Ambassador Michael A. McCarthy, in a statement published in observance of the 213th birthday of Liberia’s First President Joseph Jenkins Roberts, expressed surprise at remarks he heard at the February 16th Monrovia Day celebration in Monrovia.

The statement said that Ambassador McCarthy is quoted as stating, “Last month, I was surprised at the words of city leadership on Monrovia Day. A senior official lamented that unlike his previous three years in office, ‘ no donor or external partner is funding the recurrent cost of solid waste collection and disposal,’ implying that he was abandoned by the international community. Is there a more basic local government responsibility than the collection and proper disposal of garbage?”

Commenting further the Ambassador asked, “Would Liberia’s first president have imagined that, 175 years after independence, foreigners should be held responsible for the removal of garbage in his capital city?”

“The MCC Press and Public Affairs Department, now, state the following points for public clarity:

First, the “senior official” referred to was the Mayor of Monrovia, Honorable Jefferson T. Koijee, who was delivering the annual State of the City Message to the citizens as required by City Ordinance No. 4. The State of the City Message highlighted the City Government’s progress made and problems encountered during the year 2021 and the MCC plans for the year 2022.

“Second, the Monrovia City Corporation is concerned that the US Ambassador would decontextualize a portion of the Mayor’s report. That segment of the Mayor Koijee’s message was made with a full perspective of the trends and circumstances of waste management in Monrovia with a view to emphasize progress attained over the years and gaps realized. Mayor Koijee was very emphatic in stressing the responsibility of the people of Liberia to keeping the city clean.

The statement then went on to reproduce the portion of the speech which was referenced by Ambassador McCarthy, further giving more details of what Mayor actually said at the gathering.

“Like previous years since I assumed the office of Mayor of Monrovia, getting the needed resources for effective Solid Waste Management within the City is still a huge confrontation.

As we speak, no donor or external partner is funding the recurrent cost of solid waste collection and disposal. Our meagre internal revenues are very inadequate to fund this cost- intensive venture. The wrong mindset of a very large segment of our people has worsened the situation in that they believe solid waste management within the City is a government’s business, and not theirs amid intensive awareness and sensitization to disabuse their minds. Before 2018 the year that I took over as Mayor, the World Bank had spent over US$29.4M in total from Additional Financing (AF1, AF2 and AF3) through the Liberia Reconstruction Trust Fund (LRTF) for six years on the Emergency Monrovia Urban Sanitation (EMUS) Project with an annual contribution of US$4.9M to the solid waste management sector of the City. Additionally, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded primary waste (door-to-door) collection in the amount of US$1M for more than 5 years through the IMPAC Project with Cities Alliance as implementing partner plus subsidies from the Government of Liberia. This means that before I assumed office, more than US$5.9M in total was spent on solid waste management every year up to the end of the EMUS Project in 2016 and the IMPAC Project in 2015 plus subsidies from the Government of Liberia. Today, solid waste collection and disposal is squarely a burden for the City Government of Monrovia”, he said.

The statement said thirdly, in spite of the size of MCC’s revenue envelope, the City Government has managed some of toughest challenges through meager resources generated domestically, adding that this does not mean that assistance by international partners is not appreciated.

The statement further said that seeking international assistance like even the United States does not mean that the government and people of Liberia are relinquishing their responsibilities adding that if the United States with all the supremacy, had answers to everything, their external debt portfolio would be at zero.

Providing more details on the clarity, the statement said the City Government has designed means to mobilize domestic resources to sync with the national government’s revenue strategy. It said the administration under Mayor Koijee resolved that it did not come to power to make excuses, but to solve problems whether inherited or not. It noted that rallying citizens’ support around waste management within our city is a national duty and should not be misconstrued as holding foreign partners responsible for cleaning our city.

“The City Government of Monrovia welcomes constructive criticism and remains receptive to helpful recommendations from everyone, including global experts and professionals, on issues of municipal cooperation and development, especially sustainable integrated solid waste management as part of our firm commitment to inclusive local governance.

“In conclusion, it must be noted that the City Government remains highly focused in exploring solutions to efficient solid waste management and an implementable sustainability plan that abides by excellent environmental principles and innovation. This plan includes investing in the circular economy by utilizing waste as an industrial resource for long-term investment, which intervention     Mayor Koijee and his team are exploring. The City Government of Monrovia strongly believes this will substantially help to address the challenges of waste management in Monrovia but also create jobs for the young people, secure livelihoods for residents of the City, improve infrastructure and manage local resources more appropriately as an integral part of shouldering our own duties and responsibilities.

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