Public School Students In Monrovia Go On The Rampage, Cause Destructions

By Josephus Moses Gray
Monrovia, Liberia

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

April 2, 2004

The National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL) headed by Charles Gyude Bryant is encountering serious difficulties from the various sectors owing to the failure of the government to address its obligations, ranging from the settlement of salary arrears to providing basic social services.

A group organized and operating under the banner of Civil servant Association of Liberia recently threatened to stage a peaceful march in demand for payment of salary arrears and other benefits while students of the nation’s higher institution of learning-the University of Liberia (UL) have given the government 15 April to reopen the school by settling their professors’ demands.

The government, however, has committed itself to addressing the demands of the nation’s works-force, while at the same time it has made a payment of US$400,000 to the university to settle its obligation to the university to facilitate the reopening of the university.

But all have not been fine for the government as public school students in Monrovia and its environs have taken the law into their hands, causing destruction in the capital.

Thousands of public school students from the Monrovia consolidated School system (MCC), during the morning hours of Friday, April 2nd, have gone on the violent rampage in Monrovia and its environs, thereby disrupting normal businesses.

The angry students throw stones and other objectives at the Ministries of finance and Education, as they continue their violence protest. The students forced employees of both ministries who showed up for work on Friday morning to lock themselves up in the buildings, while other fled as their students pressed on with their actions.

Even this author was attacked by some of the students upon seeing me taking photograph of the activities. However, I managed to escape from the mob action but all of my equipment including my digital camera, tape recorder as well as other items including personnel cash were taken away by the angry students.

Some of the students were seemed chasing vehicles while some sit in the middle of Broad Street in front of both education and finance Ministries. They vowed against leaving until their instructor’s demands were addressed. Besides, other students from the William V. S. Tubman high School stormed a nearby run United Methodist school-Joseph Jenkins Roberts High School and beat some of their colleagues up who apparently refused to join them in their action.

However, personnel of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) in collaboration with personnel of the Liberia National Police managed to bring the situation under control but the amount destruction left behind remains unknown.

The total number of students arrested and detained is not known. More importantly, there have been no report of death. Several others persons fled their private offices to seek refuge at the diplomatic area of Mamba Point, near the United States Embassy.

Public school teachers’ last week abandoned classes in demands of their salary arrears and other benefits. The teachers’ action have denied the students of the MCSS school to sit their mid semester examinations, while their colleagues from private and mission schools are attending.

The deposed regime of exile former Liberian leader, President Charles Taylor is indebted to civil servant including public school teachers over 12 months’ salary arrears, something the nation’s work-force want the transitional government settle.

On two separate occasions, the government has paid US$6,000.00 and other benefits to each of the 76 members of the first branch of Government-the National Transitional Legislature Assembly (NTLA) as “re-settlement “ benefits, while government workforce goes without their salary arrears being addressed.