HARPER, Maryland – A visit to Harper reveals what should be a picturesque vacation city that attracts throngs of tourists annually – the city is filled with luscious green landscapes wedged between beaches teeming with potential for recreation. Moreover, historic colonial styled buildings line the city’s streets.
But all this is wasted potential as the city’s beaches, cemeteries, and waterways are all open defecation sites. With few houses being built with proper latrines and bathrooms, there is a looming public health threat. Throughout the city, heaps of trash are seen rolling around. Harper is a city in ruins, occupied by dilapidated houses owned by Americo-Liberian families who are no longer present to take proper care of those properties.
Harper’s newly appointed mayor wants to change this. Ellen B. Howe says the city is dirty and unhealthy for its citizens and she wants residents to work with her to ensure that it is cleaned. She spoke to The Bush Chicken only two days after her induction ceremony, where she assured citizens that her administration would constitute a clean-up campaign team that will comprise of heads of communities. She said the goal is to give the city a facelift and transform it.
Howe said the poor sanitary conditions in Harper means that people are exposed to “hazardous conditions” because of the actions of citizens who fail to observe environmentally sound practices.
She explained that if any community refuses to abide by the ordinances intended to give the city a facelift, her office will take drastic measures, including imposing fines and involving the Liberia National Police to enforce the city ordinances.
She said she would work with the city council to ensure that the work of the Harper City Corporation is effective.
“I’m trying to revamp and strengthen the city council to address these situations,” she said.
Meanwhile citizens of Harper have largely welcomed the mayor’s announcements. On the Cape Rock Radio morning show, residents called in to express their disgust and embarrassment with the water pollution and trash found around the city.
They urged Howe to implement her plans to help bring good sanitary conditions to Harper and allow people to live healthy lives. Some callers also said they wanted the mayor to take actions to prevent criminals from using abandoned buildings as their hideouts.
Meanwhile the Liberia National Red Cross Society’s Maryland chapter has embarked on cleaning strategic government facilities around Harper, including the J.J. Dossen Memorial Hospital compound and the air strip.
According to the organization’s field officer, Joseph Nyema, the move is taken May every year to remember the founder of Red Cross Society, Henry Donald. Nyema called on the young people of the county to volunteer their services in communities in order to create job opportunities for themselves and pave their way for the future challenges in the larger society.
Featured photo by Franklin Nehyalor