The President of the Republic, H. E. Dr. George Manneh Weah, has described as major historical failure Liberia’s appalling infrastructural deficit.
Giving his nationwide address commemorating Liberia’s 174h Independence Anniversary, the Liberian Chief Executive reflected that one of the country’s recurring themes, which remained prominent and consistent throughout history, is its large infrastructural deficit.
He said Liberia cannot boast of being the first independent African nation when, up to today, “we lack the proper health, educational, governance and infrastructure systems befitting such a status”.
“That is why since our incumbency, my Administration has endeavored to tackle roads and other basic infrastructure requirements so as to bring improvement to the lives of our people, as well as ensuring that there is adequate access to services,” the President said in a prerecorded national address on Monday, July 26, 2021.
He said in spite of many challenges, his government has rehabilitated thousands of kilometers of roads across the country, built hundreds of housing units, constructed and rehabilitated many schools, hospitals and several market buildings.
Dr. Weah said his government will continue its infrastructure drive, in keeping with the Pro-Poor Agenda, “until we can begin to reduce the infrastructural deficit because, the very existence of this deficit at this time in our national development trajectory can be regarded as a major historical failure.”
He continued: “In spite of the negative impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic, we have ensured that the national development agenda is not derailed. With the firm and prudent fiscal and monetary policy measures we have instituted, inflation has return to single digit. There is also greater stability in the monetary sector and marginal GDP growth is projected.”
President Weah is strongly convinced that the country’s infrastructure which he said became more visible to him during his recent county tour across the country will remain undaunted unless strategically practical intervention is made.
He assured Liberians that his administration will continue its roads development program in keeping with the flagship Development Platform, the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development, PAPD, until the situation is improved.
President Weah asserted that it’s because of such national embarrassment that his Administration has endeavored to tackle roads and other basic infrastructure requirements in order to bring improvement to the people and to ensure that there is adequate access to services.
He noted that in spite of many challenges, “we have rehabilitated thousands of kilometers of roads across the country, built hundreds of housing units, constructed and rehabilitated many schools, hospitals and several market buildings.”
Covid-19 and Liberians’ Resilience
Apart from the national infrastructural embarrassment recounted, the President also weighed in on the current health situation brought to bear by Covid-19 pandemic, saying that the country is not being spared by the scourge of the pestilence, including infections and deaths.
“As we are all aware, since early last year, the entire world has been ravished by this deadly disease, which has infected almost 200 million persons so far, and resulted in the deaths of more than 4 million citizens of our various countries,” said the President, adding however that through strong leadership and effective implementation of health policies and protocols, as well as the sacrifices and dedication of our health workers, infections and fatalities have been kept to a minimum.
He recounted: “Last month, the country experienced an aggressive upsurge of the COVID-19 pandemic as opposed to the situation seen early this year and last year. Over a period of 3 weeks, the daily number of people testing positive for Corona virus increased from less than 10 to almost 100 per day and the proportion of people testing positive was as high as 20% over the same period.”
As of July 24, the President quoted health ministry stats as saying that there is a cumulative number of 5,433 confirmed cases after 141,077 tests and nearly 38.5% or 2,094 of these cases were reported last month.
There have been 226 deaths since the onset of the pandemic in Liberia, with 140 of those deaths occurring since the recent upsurge of the disease, President Weah recounted. He also revealed that 95,867 Liberians have been vaccinated, of which 86,288 persons received the first dose of AstraZeneca vaccines, while 9,579 have been fully vaccinated.
“Despite the above figures, I am pleased to inform you that the country has seen a significant decline in the number of confirmed cases since the beginning of July, and for the past week the number of confirmed cases has been less than 10,” he noted, expressing delight with the responsible manner in which citizens are heeding calls to adhere to the protocols announced by health authorities.
President Weah said if the country is to be successful in the fight against the pandemic, it requires the collective support and cooperation of all citizens and residents strictly adhering to the published health protocols.
The Liberian Leader pledged that his administration would continue to strengthen the strategic interventions that would urgently interrupt any chains of COVID-19 infections, emphasizing that he would continue to exert efforts to ensure that further spread of coronavirus is halted in Liberia.
In order to achieve the rather milestone goal, the President disclosed that he has requested the allocation of additional $2 million dollars to enable Liberia obtain critical supplies for treatment centers and to assist in general case management and infection control.
He added: “Additionally, an amount of $8 million dollars was recently approved for Liberia by our development partners to help finance the acquisition of much-needed vaccines and supplies.”
According to the President, the government national development agenda is not derailed in spite of the negative impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic.
He disclosed that inflation has returned to single digit due to firm and prudent fiscal and monetary policy measures the government instituted, adding that there is also greater stability in the monetary sector while marginal GDP growth is projected.
Peace & development
Meanwhile, President Weah has called on all citizens to play their part in the management and sustenance of the peace being enjoyed, stressing that sustainable development is possible with sustainable peace.
“That is why we must all work collectively to maintain the peace we now enjoy. No matter how polarizing our democratic discourse may become, never again should we resort to violence to resolve our differences. We are all one people, irrespective of our political, ethnic or religious persuasions,” President Weah admonished.
The President called on religious leaders who bent on using their platforms to predict religious war to instead use their influence to preach peace, prosperity and development.
“Today, Liberia is a nation that is at peace with itself, and with its neighbors. Let us all play our part to ensure that there will be no war again in our beloved country.”
The President said Government will continue to create the conditions necessary for the rights of every Liberian to be fully respected, regardless of political background, religion or ethnicity.
“Each and every one of us has a stake in the future of our beloved country. We should therefore play our part in ensuring that we do not engage in acts that could derail the hard-earned peace that we now enjoy. We have reached this far as a Nation through the toil and tears of our forefathers,” the President stated.
The Liberian Leader used the occasion to remind Liberians of the ultimate sacrifices bore by the founding fathers who he said laid the bedrock for what was to become the Lone Star on the African continent.
He noted: “Our rich and shared history is filled with tales of triumphs and tribulations. But despite the many trials we have faced throughout the course of our history, we have remained resilient, realizing that this nation is our common patrimony. My fellow citizens, our unity in diversity and our resilience as a Nation has set the foundation for us to deliver peace and prosperity for generations yet unborn.”
He said this year’s Independence Anniversary theme, “Together, We Are Stronger: Fighting COVID 19 and Achieving Development, Peace, Human Rights, Justice, Health and Prosperity for All” reflects the unique values and collective experience of Liberians as a resilient people who have prevailed through many adversities.
Applauding the national orator
President Weah thanked this year’s 26 Day Orator, Dr. Julius Julukon Sarwolo Nelson, President of the University of Liberia, for what he termed “the magnificent way he expounded and expanded on this theme during his excellent Oration.”
He said the oration eloquently delivered, carefully researched and historically instructive came as no surprise to him, given that the orator is a renowned academic and scholar.
“We will all do well to learn the important lessons and adopt the practical solutions that have been prescribed by the learned Professor to guide us in our collective behavior and attitudes, as we together seek to become stronger in fighting the deadly Coronavirus, while at the same time striving to achieve development, peace, human rights, justice, health and prosperity for all.”
The President also congratulated all Liberians at home and abroad on the auspicious occasion marking the 174th Independence Day celebration of the Republic.