Tuesday, 12 April 2011


GOL-ELWA Land Issue Deepens Government Threatens To Use Force If…

M. Welemongai Ciapha, II welemongai.ciapha@frontpageafricaonline.com & Clara K. Mallah

Government spokesman at the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism (MICAT), Jerolinmek Piah has declared that since 137.66 acres of land granted to the Eternal Love Winning Africa (ELWA) is still under developed; 14.5 acres of land would be seized for the construction of an administrative complex, capable of hosting 13 government ministries and agencies so as to alleviate some of the burden of rent pay to private building owners in Liberia.
Giving some historical background last Thursday on the entire land fracas between the Government and the Christian Community of ELWA, Minister Piah, who serves as Director for Press and Public Affairs at the Information Ministry, observed that the land was given to ELWA in 1955 under a special arrangement by the Government of Liberia.
Piah added that in 1962, the Government granted an additional 37.66 acres of land to ELWA, under the same arrangement, making the total to 137.66 acres of land.
Minister Piah, considering himself as cardinal part of the Christian Community, told journalists at the ministry regular press briefing that he wondered how people may be attempting to say that GOL is waging some kind of war against the people of ELWA.
The Deputy Minister believes that successive governments have been spending huge sums of money on rental payment and since the Chinese have taken the initiative to build 13 ministries, the Ellen Government cannot afford to lose the offer.
In his view, Minister Piah noted that when the administrative complex is completed, the Chinese would make it as a donation to the Government of Liberia just as similar gifts such as the newly constructed Fendall Campus, the Jackson Fiah Doe Memorial Hospital and the S.K. D. Sports Complex in Paynesville.
“The government and people of Liberia have to provide suitable land for the complex, as precondition for executing the project. And after careful analysis, the Government intends to use a portion of un-utilized or underutilized land and gifted by the Republic of Liberia, under an albino scenario grant to ELWA,” Minister Piah told reporters.
The 137.66 acres, Minister Piah stated that it was given to the ELWA under what he referred as a pre-condition, meaning that the government would request for a portion at any time on the ground it was not paid for by ELWA.
“It has been observed that the entire land granted to ELWA since 1955, it has been 55 years ago, is still un-utilized. So the Government took interest in surveying the unutilized portion and the survey showed that 31.5 acres of the giving land is still being unutilized,” Minister Piah added.
Minister Piah maintained that he thought their partners [ELWA] should have been courageous enough to be sensitive by giving the land to Government which, according to him, was not paid for by them.
Unfortunately, Minister Piah confirmed that the ELWA land issue has been politicized, because the impression is given that the government is trying to fight the church, which he said, the land in question is not a private land, a vast free land granted to ELWA.
For Land, Mines and Energy Minister, Roosevelt Jay-Jay said, the Republic of Liberia is above every citizen.
Minister Jay-Jay, being delighted to form part of the press briefing, told Information Minister Sieh that Liberia will be hosting first International Liberia Mining and Petroleum conference from April 11-13, 2011.The conference, according to Minister Jay-Jay, is comprised of 290 Chief Executive Officers.
However, the Christian Community of Liberia (CCL) in a press statement issued over the weekend considers the decision by the Liberian Government to grab ELWA Land as an attack on the Church.
“We believe getting the news media to campaign for the use of 14.5 acres of ELWA land in the name of development seems deceptive and is a front to grab all of the property. It is an attempt by government to destroy the ambience of ELWA by knocking down residential buildings, getting rid of antenna fields and even removing the grave site of missionaries and nationals alike who tirelessly labored for the Mission while they were alive,” the church said.

The statement under the signatures of Reverends, Daniel B. McGee, Joseph G. Johnson and Jervis Witherspoon said that CCL is puzzled over government’s insistence to grab ELWA land when there is so much land in the country.
The Church: “Why ELWA property which was given for the propagation of the Gospel and humanitarian purposes? Why would anyone want to build a “ministry complex” near Liberia’s oldest radio station, a hospital and an educational institution? Will this not destroy the very essence of these institutions?”

The pastors in their reaction to the issue at bar, stated that if government land developers were fair with government and the public, they would never suggest ELWA property for a “ministry complex” for several reasons. It is absolutely not feasible to build a “ministry complex” in close proximity to the SKD Sports Complex.
“Where is the road network that will account for easy access to and from the area when there are major sporting activities and the usual flurry of business that accompanies government ministries? Are we going to make the ELWA area which is the principal entry point to the airport a “bottleneck” like Red Light and Duala? Have the government engineers consider the demographics of the area for the next 10 years? Or is it the same scenario as former President Samuel K. Doe’s drive to build the Liberia Broadcasting System a new complex within range of Omega Tower signals? As a result, thousands of tax payers’ money went into an endeavor that is useless to us today,” the   pastors reacted angrily.