The political leader of the Movement for Progressive Change (MPC) has pointed fingers at President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for what he believes was her encouragement and promotion of the recent alarming increase in ritualistic killings in the country, saying “apparently she wants it to prosper.”Mr. Simeon Freeman recalled that at the height of the Ebola Virus outbreak, President Sirleaf did something about it by deploying police, “and when the people became uneasy, she brought the army out immediately. Did anybody give her a blue print to go and shoot in West Point?”With the police force poorly equipped, Mr. Freeman said the army is sitting down because nobody is threatening the President. “When she was threatened during the Ebola virus, it became necessary to equip the police, but now that her safety is not threatened, it is the poor people’s children that are dying or going missing. She encourages that.”Mr. Freeman, who spoke in Monrovia yesterday, pressed that instead of being more robust, President Sirleaf decided to go to the Ministry of Gender to launch 18 days of care. “For who? Care for our children that are dying? Let’s get serious,” he added.The MPC leader again reiterated his recent position on the size of the current government, describing it as very large with about US$251 million of its budget spent on salaries alone, with an expected rise next fiscal year by another US$10 million or US$15 million because of the payroll rationalization scheme.“We need to reduce the size of the government to at least 10 ministries and agencies of government, and as part of that cost-saving scheme we will determine who has to own a car and how it would be owned,” he said.Under his administration as President, Mr. Freeman said he would replace most of the country’s embassies with consulates that does the work of the ambassador and also takes away the burden of cost by having an embassy without the associated cost of an ambassador and administrative staff.On what his government will do with the Armed Forces of Liberia, Freeman again recalled that Liberia went to war because of the inequitable distribution of wealth, and reflected that for over 160 years the country never went to war, except when France and Britain came to Liberia and took portions of the land and gave it to Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone, but that the three neighbors have since lived peacefully.The phasing out of the army, Mr. Freeman maintained, will be one major cost-saving scheme he intends to implement if elected president, which will leave the country with 5,000 police officers. “Right now the budget of the police is about US$15 million, of which US$12.5 million is spent on salaries alone, with nothing left to buy uniforms. We can’t be demanding so much from the police when they are poorly capacitated,” he said.With the phasing out of the army, Freeman said the membership of the police force could increase by 20,000 to 30,000 which could be determined by civil structure, and will be fully capacitated by ensuring that every policeman is assigned a motorbike.“So the army is phased out and as part of that cost saving scheme, we will now open companies, encourage the setting up of private structures that will be funded like it was done in America, Britain, China, Russia, South Korea and all serious countries that are developed. We want to use government money that has been saved to redeploy it in a non-existing private sector that will for the first instance assume some of the 30,000 people that will be coming out of government. They will then automatically be employed in the private service,” he added.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
– as floodwaters slowly recedeAs the floodwaters in Kwakwani (Upper Demerara-Upper Berbice) continue to slowly recede, Region 10 Vice Chairman Elroy Adolph, a resident of the area, received for the community food hampers from the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) on Wednesday, for the first time since the severe flood struck the community.Acting CDC Director General, Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig, handed over the hampers to Adolph for distribution to the residents.In some areas, the floodwaters — which had reached heights of approximately nine feet — have now begun to recede slowly. Over 300 households remain affected by the disastrous situation, and although the residents have adopted adaptive measures, most homes are completely flooded, resulting in occupants beingA representative from the CDC sending off the hampers to the Kwakwani residentsforced to move to higher ground.On Sunday morning, some of the residents also received supplies of cleaning agents, utensils, and medical supplies from the Civil Defence Commission (CDC). The cleaning agents included soap powder, bleach, bar soap, long boots and other cleaning agents. The Opposition Peoples Progressive Party also went into the area on Sunday and distributed cleaning agents.Region 10 Vice Chairman Elroy Adolph has said residents would like to place on record their appreciation to all donors for the efforts expended in promptly responding to their calls for help.Adolph highlighted that one of the challenges facing the residents in the present situation is transportation. He said high fees are being charged, especially by canoe operators plying the flooded routes, to transport residents living on the outskirts of Kwakwani to the central location for shopping and other business-related purposes.Adolph is calling on the relevant officials to consider raising the level of the main access road, so that in the future, when flooding occurs, transportation would not be affected.Residents have even called for Government to consider commencing irrigation works in the area as soon as the water recedes, so as to prevent the situation from recurring.The flooding in Kwakwani started in April, and intensified over the months owing to the heavy rainfall coupled with the overtopping of the Berbice River. Persons living on Lamp Island and the Waterfront are the most severely affected.The water had risen to as high as eight feet in some areas, but is currently receding slowly. Residents are currently forced to utilise boats as the main mode of transportation, since the roads are inundated.