Owner of Relocated Ma Juah Market Building Appeals for Payment -Edsel E. Smith: “Several years gone without pay”

A few years ago, about eighty-year-old Liberian civil engineer Edsel Edward Smith gave his family property to the Government of Liberia with the expectation that the past Liberian government would have quickly signed a payment or lease agreement with him. Situated around Johanssen, Waterside, adjacent to the Total Gas Station, the prime property, which is now being used as facility for the relocated Ma Juah Market, was offered to the government of Liberia by the Smith patriarch at the time the marketers were being removed from Vai Town and had nowhere to go, with the understanding that the government would have reached an agreement with the family who were willing on humanitarian grounds to accept whatever payment the government offered. However, with several years gone by without the past or current government reaching any agreement with the Smith family on the use of their property, Mr. Edward Smith has reached out to the government of Liberia through his friends in and out of government and humbly appealed for a payment or lease agreement, but to no avail.

According to Mr. Edsel Edward Smith, the past and current government failed to make any payment for his family property let alone to reach a formal lease agreement years ago.

“This building belongs to my family and the government has been using it. I have been trying over the years to get some money from the government, but I wasn’t successful with the past administration,” Mr. Smith informed this paper.

The octogenarian further disclosed that as lessor, his family had encouraged the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs as lessee to come to an understanding through a formal agreement with an understandable term of payment.

“We haven’t reached that far to agree on a contract. We are the lessor, and the lessee is the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs, while the General Services Agency (GSA) is managing the property on behalf of the government. We are appealing to this government for us to enter a payment or lease agreement. It’s been years and years and years. They’ve used this place but haven’t paid a dime,” Mr. Smith lamented.

Mr. Smith intimated further that despite not having reached a signed contract with the administration, his late father had decided on humanitarian grounds to charge the past administration only $4.50 per square foot for the property hosting the relocated marketers, although the property was previously leased for $9.00 per square foot. “We’ve been very kind to the government.”

Mr. Smith said he has exerted all avenues to negotiate terms of payment for the building with the new administration but his efforts have not been forthcoming, as everyone seems very busy to listen to his plight.

“I have written a letter to the General Services Agency boss Mary Bloh, which I will submit next week,” Mr. Smith stated.

Mr. Edsel Edward Smith has worked with the government of Liberia for many years. His stints with the Ministry of Public Works saw him serving in several capacities, and spearheaded special projects. Some of the projects include the Ministerial Complex, new Health Ministry, Executive Pavilion, Somalia Drive, SKD Sports Complex, as a lead consultant with the Government of Liberia.

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