Archive for April, 2009

MINI-SHIP WRECK IN BUCHANAN (LIBERIA) LEAVES 1 DEAD; ANOTHER MISSING & DOUBLE STRATEGIES

Posted in Uncategorized on April 26, 2009 by Nat Bayjay
Looted goods at ship wreck

Looted goods at ship wreck

By: Nat Nyuan-Bayjay (231-6-402737)

 A mini-fishing ship in the port city of Buchanan accidently appeared on-shore that left one person dead, one missing and another tragic motor accident occurring subsequently as the corpse was being taken to the hospital which left a commercial motorcyclist dead instantly upon collision of the ambulance and a motorcycle. DETAILS TO FOLLOW

MINI-SHIP WRECK IN BUCHANAN (LIBERIA) LEAVES 1 DEAD; ANOTHER MISSING & DOUBLE STRATEGIES

Posted in Uncategorized on April 26, 2009 by Nat Bayjay

ship

By: Nat Nyuan-Bayjay (231-6-402737) A mini-fishing ship in the port city of Buchanan accidently appeared on-shore that left one person dead, one missing and another tragic motor accident occurring subsequently as the corpse was being taken to the hospital which left a commercial motorcyclist dead instantly upon collision of the ambulance and a motorcycle. DETAILS TO FOLLOW

GOVERNMENT’S TWO DIFFERENT VERSIONS OF ARMS DISCOVERY: ‘ARMS’ VERSUS ‘SHELLS’

Posted in Uncategorized on April 16, 2009 by Nat Bayjay

'Gen' Mary Broh whose continual quest to clean Monrovia led to shells discovery

'Gen' Mary Broh whose continual quest to clean Monrovia led to shells discovery

 

Acting Minister of Information Cletus Sieh
Acting Minister of Information Cletus Sieh

  

 

 

 

By: Nat Nyuan-Bayjay (231-6-402737)

What seems to be a very serious lack of coordination among government ministries continues to hang dark cloud rather than clarity over Wednesday’s discovery of arms (or shells) in the suburb of Jacob’s Town in Paynesville as evidenced by two different versions provided by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism (MICAT).

THE NSA’S VERSION

According to Augustus Tweh, a case-official at the NSA, over 25 bags of arms and ammunitions were discovered yesterday in the Jacob’s Town area, specifically around the Black Gina area—a community that brewed a serious confrontation that led to the brief but destructive fracas in 2004 referred to otherwise as ‘The Rock War’.

Mr. Tweh stated that he couldn’t provide the exact number of arms unless they are all assembled. He explained that this discovery followed a tip-off from residents of the community in additional to security surveillance that has been since put in place.

The NSA official told Star Radio that these bags of arms and ammunitions were all sealed; moreover, they were all brand new. Tweh further narrated that four persons (all males) were arrested in connection with these arms and ammunitions and have promised to cooperate with security investigation to provide more information on them. He disclosed that the appearances of these people were more of Guinean-nationalities with broken hardly incomprehensive English.

“Their English sounded like people from Guinea. Their English was broken English”, answered Tweh when asked to describe how these suspects appeared and spoke.

INFORMATION MINISTRY’S VERSION

But the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism (MICAT) provided a complete different version of the discovery. During a press conference at the Ministry, the Acting Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Cletus Sieh dismissed the NSA’s information and stated that there were no guns found but rather single barrel ‘shells’ contained in 50 boxes. Minister Sieh told journalists that these were discovered during a Mary Broh clean-up of the 72nd Community in which 1,251 rounds were seen.

“There were no guns discovered anywhere. In fact, there were 1,251 single barrel shells that were discovered in 50 boxes contained in several containers that were sealed in some rice bags”, he explained. He explained that Mary Broh and her team noticed a taxi carrying these items upon which they ordered the taxi to a halt.

He said five persons including a lady were immediately arrested to provide information on how these “single barrel shells”. He insisted that there were no guns found during this search. He said the arrested persons and the single barrel shells are in the custody of the Liberia National Police (LNP).

The Minister’s clarity on this issue clearly contradicts the previous one as provided by the NSA official who repeatedly maintained that these were real, fresh and new arms and ammunitions that amounted to over 25 bags while the Information’s version speaks of 50 boxes of single barrel shells. Another aspect that remains confusing is how to compromise the NSA’s version of four arrested persons all males to that of MICAT’s version of five persons to include a female.

When asked to compromise these contradictions, he said: “The Liberian government is telling you that there was no arms found but shells were discovered. I’m government’s spokesperson. So, take what I am telling you as the acting information minister”, which meant that utterances from the NSA official should be disregarded. He continued: “Perhaps I can say that the NSA did not lie. But you did not talk to Minister Peter B. Jallah who is the minister of National Security”.

So the likelihood of Augustus Tweh being dealt cannot be erased as Minister Sieh stated that Minister Jallah who is also a part of the Security Council will definitely deal with whoever that wanted to “make some news” if indeed said person does come from his (Minister Jallah’s) ministry.

The continual discoveries of shells is becoming a nationwide concern as there was a similar instance in Bong County sometimes last year and a recent one by farmers around the provincial capital of Lofa County, Voinjama.  This has continued to stir up fears among Liberians on whose minds reminds fresh images of the atrocities of a deadly civil war that they are yet to fully recover from.

 But Minister Sieh assured Liberians that the Government is proactive to instances of such nature while admitting there it is true that either of two things might be the cause of such constant discoveries. “One, it could be that someone is planning something or someone is smuggling in shells for commercial purposes. Since we don’t have those facts now, those suspects are being held and questioned by police so that we have a more conclusive investigation that will lead to the intent of these discovered shells”.

A vigilant public

One thing that is common to all of these discoveries is the alarm raised by the public during which time they provide tips-up to requisite security agencies. In both (though different versions) versions, the public provided or aided in a way that led to these discoveries of arms or shells. To this, Minister Sieh appreciated the vigilance of these Liberians and admonished them to continue as there are others who are bent on demonizing others in this country.

 He then cautioned those who might be involved in commercializing these single barrel shells to do it in line with the proper authority. “The right thing to do in this light is to get in touch with the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Internal Affairs. I’m not saying that the arm embargo has been lifted over Liberia because I’m not a legal person to know the extent this is or the ramification involved. But if you have a single barrel gun and want to use for such commercial purposes, this is the right thing to do”.

 

Motorcyclists Versus Police in Liberia

Posted in Uncategorized on April 14, 2009 by Nat Bayjay
‘Pen-Pen’ in Monrovia Turns Bloody As Police, Motorcyclists Exchange Fist-fights – Nat Nyuan-Bayjay
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Pen-Pen Riders await passengers at the Clara Town Intersection-a densely populated community of Monrovia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

M

otorcyclists, locally referred to as (pen-pen) constitute the highest portion of transport in Monrovia and other counties as they are also the fastest movers, dodging traffic congestions and getting people to work and other places on time but they are recorded for highest numbers of fatal accidents in Monrovia.

 

Wounded people from motorcycle ridding are taken to hospitals on a daily basis and the Liberian government sensing the danger pose by the numerous accidents banned the riding of motorcycle on the main streets of Monrovia but the ban has turned out to be a fierce warfare between motorcyclists and the Liberian National police. 

 

Traffic Police in Monrovia can hardly contain the large number of motorcycles plying the main streets of Monrovia as in many instances the motorcyclists challenge the police and engage them in physical fight in an effort to prevent the arrest of their cycles.

 

In recent time, the happenings between the police and motorcyclists is turning bloody with police officers manhandling motorcyclists while on the other hand, some motorcyclists force themselves pass police officers, sometimes dragging them to the floor.

 

The usual daily tussle witnessed between police and commercial motorbike operators locally referred to as ‘pen-pen’ riders turned bloody at the weekend in the commercial community of Vai Town when the Deputy Chief of Traffic for Administration at the Liberian National Police (LNP) was mercilessly dragged by one of Monrovia’s numerous pehn-pehn riders after he was ordered to stop by the police commander, leaving him heavily bruised.

 

Police officers manhandle a pen-pen driver

 

 

John M. Saar, Deputy to the Chief of Traffic explained that the pen-pen driver was riding on the opposite lane that joins the Gabriel Tucker Bridge (or New Bridge as is popularly called) towards Central Monrovia when he should instead be riding on the right lane.  

 

According to Deputy Chief Saar, the pen-pen driver only identified as Varney Momoh was riding under unsafe conditions such as riding without helmets for him and his passenger, wearing a pair of shower slippers as well as two crates of soft-drinks positioned between him and his passenger in addition to riding on the wrong lane.

 

While driving towards Vai Town as he left the Bridge, the Police officer explained that he noticed this rider coming directly towards the moving traffic which prompted him to have the motorcyclist stopped as he disembarked from his vehicle.

 

“As soon as the passenger disembarked from the bike, he began to push me from the bike as I had my hands on the carriage of the bike. He accelerated while I persistently held onto the back. Before I could know it, I was dragged on that hard coal-tar with my hands still on the bike”, the Deputy Chief explained told FrontPageAfrica.  

 

“I thought that I had everything under control. But to my utmost surprise the boy decided to accelerate which left my hands like this”, he continued and displayed his wounded elbows.

 

He further said that had the car driver on his right not stopped, he was definitely going to be crushed.

 

According to an eye-witness account confirmed by Commander Saar, Varney (the motorcyclist) immediately ran into the Ma-Juah Market after the motorcycle being tussled over fell.

But he was caught by members of the public who ran after him as the incident had already attracted the attention of dozens—if not hundred—of people while he jumped between one market stall to another in an attempt to escape the consequences associated with such traffic violation and the manner in which he manhandled the police traffic commander.

 Passers-by who witnessed the incident narrated to FrontPageAfrica few minutes after incident that it was such a pitiful scene to witness.

 

“I say my friend, you could see that poor man struggling under that motorbike but luckily for him the motorbike fell. Otherwise, the stubbornness of that police commander could have killed him because the motor bike boy too was stubborn and he didn’t want to stop the motorbike,” narrated Cynthia Wah who sells in the Ma-Juah Market, the place opposite which the incident occurred.

 

The scuffle left the police commander’s both elbows burnt and parts of his feet from the hot absorb-pipe of the beating engine.

 

Attempts by this FrontPageAfrica to reach the cyclist involved yielded no result as he was being transferred to a police detention cell upon the arrival of our reporter pending courting procedure.

 

Meanwhile, he has been sent to court and formally charged with criminal intent to commit murder.

 

There have always been scuffles of this kind between commercial motorcyclists and police officers of the Liberia National Police on a regular basis in Monrovia and its environs.

 

Riding Pen-pen in Monrovia, the fastest means of transport.

 

 

This followed pronouncement by the Liberian Government via the Ministry of Transport then headed by its former minister Jackson Doe several months ago banding all commercial motorcycles from plying the major streets of Central Monrovia.  The police, being the law enforcers of the land, have been tasked with this responsibility which has been proving to be too hectic for them in their quest to execute this order.

 

As a matter of fact, they are either seen arresting or fighting over motorcycles while these ‘pen-pen’ riders remain very adamant in their own bid to survive by means of what has now become a major means of transport for the public who in turn had already adjusted well to this form of transport before the coming into existence of this order. Various police depots in Central Monrovia and parts adjacent as well as the Headquarters of the Liberia National Police are always jam-parked with impounded ‘pen-pens’.

 

But the issue of an officer being dragged as he attempted to arrest a violating ‘pen-pen’ rider has mixed-views or reactions from the public. Most members of the public interviewed said that this is “50-50” incident because police officers are most often seen carrying out police brutality on these ‘pen-pen’ riders in the name of enforcing traffic laws.

 

Majority of them even told our reporter that this scenario was the first of its kind that ever witnessed by them as they have in most cases witnessed the reverse—meaning one in which police officers are always either dragging or flogging the ‘pen-pen’ riders to the extent of injuring them. According to observers, this should rather serve as a deterrent to those officers who find pleasure in carrying out police brutality while ensuring that motorists abide by traffic rules and regulations.   

 

A typical incidence proving that members of the LNP do carry out such acts of brutality happened in the presence of one of FrontPageAfrica reporters who had hired a motorcyclist to take him to an assignment in the Sinkor area on Tuesday, April 7, 2009  when two police officers jostled one ‘pen-pen’ rider.

 

According to the reporter the incident occurred due to the refusal of the motorcyclist to be arrested, deciding to make a u-turn to the displeasure of one of the police officers who later ceased the key of the motorbike while it was in motion with the FPA reporter still seated on it.

 

The motorcyclist who tried finding an escape route was later over powered when the other officer joined in the scuffle.

 

This incident again witnessed so much police brutality in which the police officers’ relentlessly strive to get the motorcyclist’s key led to his head being hit hard against the door of the traffic Patrol car that had been called to take him away after they succeeded in having him handcuffed.

continue in his fight for the key while when they finally succeeded in getting the kid, they began to beat on pen-pen driver and later one of them ordered that they handcuff him but he resisted it initially, but they succeeded in getting it on his left hand.

 

Due to the pen-pen driver’s resistance, the two police officers were seen “kicking and slapping” him. They later got him to the ground with force in order to put the hand cuff on both hands. When this was done, a police patrol car came by for the operator to be transported to an unknown destination. Before their departure, the motor bike rider was forcibly put into the patrol car with his head knocked against the entrance of the car.

 

 

Deputy Chief of Traffic displayed wounded elbows after being dragged by a 'pen-pen' rider

Deputy Chief of Traffic displayed wounded elbows after being dragged by a 'pen-pen' rider

LIVING WITHOUT SANITATION

Posted in Uncategorized on April 11, 2009 by Nat Bayjay

By: Nat Nyuan-Bayjay (231-6-402737), interlink2004@yahoo.com

Monrovia's Slum: See how Clara Town kids-dangerously-squat-on-tiny-planks-over-the-river

Monrovia's Slum: See how Clara Town kids-dangerously-squat-on-tiny-planks-over-the-riverone-of-the-few-available-toilets

Sanitation is known to be one of mankind’s basic necessities for better life. But it seems the thousands of Clara Town residents have compromised this and are virtually not just living in filth but unimaginable poor sanitation conditions. The township of Clara Town, strategically located in the commercial district of Bushrod Island is just a stone throw from Central Monrovia and has an estimated 61,000 to 65,000 inhabitants. Its sanitation problems range from lack of adequate toilet facilities to unkempt drainages and filthy environment.

THE STRUGGLE FOR TOILETS-A SERIOUS ISSUE:

 The lack of adequate toilet facilities seems to definitely be the township’s most grave sanitation problem wherein over 90% of the houses were built without toilets (whether indoor or close-by). This makes the residents to rely on public toilet facilities; as if to further worsen the residents’ plights these toilets are not only nasty in most cases but are also insufficient to cater to the tens of thousands of residents that flock early morning hours and late evening hours to ease themselves. To add ‘salt to injury’, a lot of the already insufficient public toilets have been closed to the residents—a situation that has prompted the constructions of over a hundred make-shifts toilets along the bank of the Mesurado River popularly known as the ‘Du River’. Authorities clothed with catering to these public toilets known as the 7-Man Council of Clara Town told FPA that the closure of these toilets is due to them being over-filled with feces. The 7-Man Council is charged with the general welfare of the Township and is said to be drawn from a cross-section of Clara Town’s most dominant tribes (two representatives each from the Grebo and Vai Tribes which are in majority, one representative from the Kru Tribe and two representatives to generally represent the other tribes of the Township.) This Council which replaced a previous community council named the United Development Association (UDA) of Clara Town is said to be heading in similar direction as the UDA due to its inablitiy to cater to these needs which includes the continual filthy drainages as shown in the picture. According to Mr. Augustine Passewe, secretary to Commissioner of the Township of Clara Town there is a unit called the Management Team which is responsible to cater to the drainages. True to his words, many of the residents informed FPA that this Management Team periodically tries its best in cleaning these drainages as well as dump-sites in the community. But again, these efforts just cannot get the commendations that it should probably be getting because it is often said that “a job half-done is not done at all”. On the issue of these public toilets, Mr. Passewe attributed it to their sewerage lines which need to be reconnected to proper ones or new ones dug—indications that they were indeed poorly connected to inadequate or unfunctional sewerage lines. As viewed in some of the pictures, most of the closed public toilets have just been constructed but yet are not able to serve the people for whom they were built.

One of the few available toilets

One of the few available toilets

“My brother, the people built this toilet but we could not use it for even 2 months. In fact, we the women were forced to use the same place with the men because they told us that the ‘women side’ was not good”, explained Miatta Kandakai as she pointed towards one of the relatively new toilets which she lives next to. “So, we force to just use the ones the other people built over the river”, she said as she told our reporter the way forward. Like Miatta, most of the residents explained that there is indeed a serious need for toilets because a vast majority of the houses have none. They narrated their stories pitifully to the extent that one woman explained how she was compiled to toilet on herself due to the usual over-crowdedness of the toilets (both public and private)one early morning when she had experienced a terrible ‘running stomach’ the previous night. “When I reached to the water side that morning, everywhere was packed. So, I run to the government toilet but again the line was long”, she said. Then she continued: “By the time I could make up mind, I was finished doing it on myself”, she concluded her misfortune. PAY AS YOU TOILET Every visit to the toilet is paid for. FPA was informed by a lot of the residents that they prefer the toilets built over the river to the public ones. While their reasons vary from one person to another, the bottom line is that one pays LD$5 per visit to the toilet. Implicitly, one has to calculate or budget additional LD$150 or USD$2.3 monthly for toilet per individual. And that is if one wouldn’t have to use the toilet more than once daily. However, if one experiences a stomach disorder either due to Diareahea or other stomach problem, you just might pay twice this amount. This means that if you have a household of over five to ten persons who are not able to secure a LD$5 note for toilet purpose, then the accumulated circulation is yours. Another older woman, probably in his late sixties told this reporter they have to set aside at least LD$25 to LD $35 on the day that proceeds Christmas Day or Ramadan Day (depending on which religion you believe in since the Township is dominated by both Christians or Muslims) because, as justified by her, that is when one gets and eats food in abundance.

IMMINENT DANGER LOOMS

One has to come as early as this timenotice the early morning-moon

One has to come as early as this timenotice the early morning-moon

Standing along the bank of this river, what can be seen visibly is the chain of make-shift toilets as if you were viewing a congested traffic from an aerial view. According to a FPA survey and proper examination of these make-shift toilets, a vast majority of them are what can only be described as ‘death trips’ while some are made only for those who are brave to use. Children as young as three to four years can be seen squatting over tiny planks that link these toilets to the shore as these toilets are built about three to four feet away from the bank of the River. Since they are small and a lot of their ‘seniors’(older people) will be in queues, they just cannot just the main toilet but use these tiny planks which serve as entrances to these toilets. In additional to the nasty drainages, some of the Township’s water-pipes are opened for water supply just along the immediate edge of these dangerous drainages. (Available in picture) Some of these water pipes are concentrated right within the same location of the man-holes of some of the public toilets (as shown in the picture).

SITUATION CREATES NEW FORM OF BUSINESS

The Township of Clara Town residents-queued-for-water-that-is-located-in-a-nasty-drainage
The Township of Clara Town residents-queued-for-water-that-is-located-in-a-nasty-drainage

 

The compulsory alternative discovered by these residents has eventually led to the establishment of a new form of business that proves to be a worthwhile venture. Owners or constructors of these ‘private’ toilets over the River have just gotten a self-employment that is indeed sustaining. Wilfred Nyante, one of the owners of these numerous ‘water toilets’ told FPA that he makes between LD$900 to $1,000 daily—the equivalent of USD$14.00-$15.00—from 5:30 AM to about 11PM. Wilfred’s explanation servers as a confirmation that most of the residents prefer to use these ‘water toilets’ to the government or public toilets which is one reason why they (the owners) make this kind of money. “This pays my house rent, feed my family and sends my two children to school”, he said. The profitability of this new form of business has led to its proliferation that almost every day one new one is seen constructed.

Posted in Uncategorized on April 5, 2009 by Nat Bayjay

CORRUPTION BREWS MAJOR RESHUFFLE IN ELLEN’S GOVERNMENT

By: Nat Nyuan-Bayjay

With mounting pressures from various quarters of the Liberian civil society to have some public officials of the Liberian government sacked due to corruptions and coupled with complete frustrations and disappointments from the Liberian leader, the government has effected some major changes in its cabinet with the Ministers of Agriculture and Public Works whose qualities of works of late have led to most of these calls taking center stage.

(MORE ON THIS LATER)

IN TRAGIC MOTOR ACCIDENT, BRAKE FAILURE KILLED 4 YEARS OLD, TWO SERIOUSLY INJURED

Posted in Uncategorized on April 2, 2009 by Nat Bayjay

The school bus-termed commercial bus that did the damage

The school bus-termed commercial bus that did the damage

By: Nat Nyuan-Bayjay

 

 

 

 

 

Late Monday evening was a fateful one at the intersection of Broad and Johnson Streets when a 40-seated yellow bus lost control and instantly killed a four-year old girl, leaving two persons seriously injured.

An eye-witness account states that the lengthy yellow school bus-termed commercial bus experienced a brake failure while branching off from Broad Street towards Bushrod Island, opting to deliberately hit a packed maroon vehicle in an apparent effort that this might have avoided him and the dozens of passengers on board from going down the sloppy road that may have led them into the Slipway valley—a slum community situated along Johnson Street.

But this was a misjudgment on the part of the driver as the heavy bus could not be stopped by this maroon vehicle as it rather smashed and carried it along, sweeping through several petty street traders and pedestrians as well as people who formed ques as they awaited to get home during the rush hours.

“By this time, everyone was running for their lives but the driver hit a little girl who also running for her life”, a residence of the community told our reporter. “He even hit two other persons. One lady’s legs got broken”, he explained.

The driver, fearing that mob violence might have killed him as well run out of the bus. Unconfirmed reports indicate that he surfaced at the National Police Headquarters. The name of the clinic or hospital where those seriously wounded were taken to could not be given by any of the eyewitnesses.

Our reporter who got on the scene a couple of minutes after the accident occurred saw the bus  stuck into the building that is used as a graphic center as if the both (the bus and building) were inseparable. One worker from the graphic center said:  “I thought the entire building was going to collapse after the bus went into it. Every one of us in it had to run all over the place, not knowing what had happened”.

What could be more pitiful is the report that the father of the four-years old who was killed has had series of disasters of late. A community resident narrated to our reporter that the father (unidentified by name) had just lost his 2 years old baby before Monday’s incidence that claimed his first daughter’s life. Prior to these, armed robbers attacked the man who does both wholesale and retail of phone cards, making away with several valuables. As if to further worsen his situation the motorcycle that he and his family were to a large extent surviving on was stolen. He could not be spoken to due to his condition while the mother struggled to come with term to the fact that Little Priscilla who was active and alive a minute ago was now dead.

 

The issue of brake failures remains a major challenge for both the Traffic Division of the Liberia National Police (LNP) and owners of these large vehicles. This has caused many tragic accidents, especially in the crowded streets of the nation’s capital. The Mechlin Street hill accident some years back is a typical infamous incident that remains on the minds of Liberians, especially Monrovians.    

Flash Back:Corpse

Flash Back:Corpse