April 6, 2015
Call for Property Verification: Mt. Coffee Transmission Line Corridors
The Mt. Coffee Hydropower Rehabilitation Project is being implemented by the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) through a dedicated Project Implementation Unit (PIU). The project began in May 2012 and is being carried out on a fast-track basis. Though the Ebola crisis forced the project to suspend on-site construction works in August 2014, the project procurement and manufacturing continued on schedule, and the project management team remobilized in late February. Restart of construction works is planned for the near term, and the project environmental and social safeguards activities have resumed.
The social safeguards responsibilities include compensating all persons who will be affected by the project through loss of land or assets (structures or trees/crops), provided they were recorded before the compensation cut-off date. The compensation and the affected populations are defined in the project’s Resettlement Action Plans (RAPs). The compensation process has already begun in the main project area for the people affected by the future reservoir.
All compensation and RAP activities are being led by the Project Implementation Unit using funds that have already been secured in a dedicated account.
The Government is now ready to begin the process of verification and compensation for all persons within the right of ways of the transmission lines for the project, which run between the Mt. Coffee hydropower plant in Harrisburg, Montserrado County, and the LEC substations in Bushrod Island and Paynesville.
In February 2014, the MLME announced the start of surveys along the rights of way of the two transmission lines. These rights of way follow the routes of the pre-war lines that were in operation up to 1990, with a few exceptions. The intention of the announcement was to re-establish the Government rights of way.
The power lines run along the Harrisburg, Pipe Line, White Planes, and Caldwell Roads. All residents living in areas where the towers will be placed and within the corridor where the lines will be strung were notified and their assets (structures, trees, and crops) were recorded by LEC. Residents were informed that any trees taller than 4 meters would need to be permanently removed, and that temporary vegetation clearing would be carried out during construction.
The survey began February 24, 2014, which was the same date established as the “cut-off date” for the Resettlement Action Plan. This means that any structure or asset established or developed after February 24, 2014, would not be eligible for compensation. However, the project follows the World Bank policy on involuntary resettlement, meaning that no person affected by the project, regardless of their status, will be left worse off or impoverished by the project. Therefore, all persons whose livelihood or assets will be affected and which were recorded during the February 2014 survey will be compensated for those assets.
Furthermore, all persons whose legal ownership of the land can be verified by the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy (MLME) by way of a legitimate deed, and whose land occurs within the right of way, will be compensated for the land. In order to effect the compensation for land and built structures, the project team, with the support of the Ministry of Public Works (MPW) and the MLME, needs to carry out a process of verification.
Beginning on April 13, 2015, the PIU, MLME, and MPW will be visiting residents along the corridors of both lines to issue citations calling for property deeds. All persons with valid deeds for their land must present them to the MLME for verification and property valuation before they can be compensated. Any persons who have structures within the right of way must also present their deeds for verification and property valuation. Any structures within the right of way will be marked by MPW and must be removed when instructed by MPW.
Compensation has already been assessed for all affected properties and the estimated sum of money has been put into a dedicated account for this purpose.
Persons not claiming legal ownership of the land and possessing only trees or crops do NOT need to come forward as these assets have already been recorded by the PIU. Following the citation for deeds, the PIU social safeguards team will be visiting each affected person to explain the amount of compensation that has been estimated for the trees and crops. Any structure built or tree planted after the initial survey and cut-off date in February of last year will NOT be compensated for that structure.
The Government asks that all persons living or making their businesses within the rights of way of the Mt. Coffee transmission lines cooperate fully with this exercise to do their part in ensuring the project stays on schedule.