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first_imgBeloved tropical destination event Strings & Sol has revealed their 2016 lineup! Set to return to the Now Sapphire resort in Puerto Morelos, Mexico from December 9-13, the festival has revealed a great performer lineup for the occasion.The event will feature sets from Yonder Mountain String Band, Greensky Bluegrass, Railroad Earth, Leftover Salmon, Infamous Stringdusters, Keller & The Keels, Keller Williams’ Grateful Grass, and special guest musicians, Danny Barnes and Nicki Bluhm.Coverage from last year’s event can be found here. Tickets for Strings & Sol go on sale next Tuesday, April 26th for returning guests and Wednesday, April 27th for newcomers. You can visit their website for details, and check out the full lineup poster below:last_img

first_imgPhoto © Pixabay There is an all-American line-up for the first time since 1981.Two-time champion Venus Williams will play Sloane Stephens.That will be followed by the meeting of Madison Keys and CoCo Vandeweghe.last_img

first_imgShare this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) May 16, 2015For more than one and a half centuries, Liberians from different backgrounds and beliefs have been severely victimized by various forms of human and natural disasters including landslides, floods and fire outbreaks. There have been series of tragic scenes and alarming occurrences of fire disaster affecting citizens and foreign nationals. As a result of an ineffective national fire prevention and response mechanism, incidents of fire outbreak continue to pose serious threat to the safety and survival of many residents in Liberia.The livelihood of taxpaying citizens is endangered every other day by this tragedy (fire) as the Liberia National Fire Service crawls on its knees to help respond to the increasing wave of fire predicaments, particularly in Montserrado County. The repeated occurrence of fire outbreaks in recent time is really disturbing for a nation that is still striving to defeat poverty, unemployment, and underdevelopment. This disaster has made and continues to make many of our citizens hopeless, homeless, and jobless. In fact, some families have got nothing to live for as a result of this catastrophe. Of late, we have been witnessing severe casualties of fire outbreak in communities, schools, churches, mosques, business places, public buildings, etc. The terrifying sound of the siren from the water tanker has been so frequent in past weeks. The Liberia National Fire Service has been incapable of responding to these outbreaks due to inadequate budgetary support, training, and logistics. As a result of this existing inadequacy, our nation has suffered huge losses. Hundreds of Liberians including non-Liberians have fallen prey to fire destruction since 2006 up to present, while properties costing millions of dollars have been badly damaged.  The constitutional mandate of the Liberia National Fire Service has been undermined by the deliberate refusal of major State actors to increase the capacity or performance of LNFS through budgetary increment. We got no reason to shift unwarranted blame on ill-equipped and untrained firefighters who are trying their best to safeguard life and property. It is our duty now as societal watchdogs to even congratulate them for assisting us to prevent and respond to fire outbreaks especially in terrible zones around Monrovia. They (firefighters) are willing to contribute to nation-building; unfortunately, they have become ‘Crawling Eagles’ under a self-seeking regime of rascals and micro-crooks.   Before 1963, the Monrovia Municipal Fire Brigade was the only public entity responsible to combat fire disasters in Liberia. In October 1963 during the Presidency of William V. S. Tubman, the Legislature passed an Act establishing the Liberia National Fire Service under the Bureau of Public Safety in the Justice Department with the following responsibilities:Oversee the operation of an efficient firefighting organization and take all necessary measures for fire prevention and control.Inspect all public and private buildings to determine if there are fire hazards and in so far as possible eliminate hazardous conditions.Assist the Liberia National Police in arson investigations.Establish fire control units throughout the Republic.Prepare statistical reports on the occurrence and cause of fires.Is the Liberia National Fire Service implementing these responsibilities fully? Is this public safety entity living by its overall mission which states, “The Liberia National Fire Service exists to safeguard life and property of all residents, Liberians and non-Liberians alike, from the hazards of fire both potential and real throughout the length and breadth of the country, promote efficient fire prevention services, always improving firefighting methods and practices in keeping with international standards, encourage, pursue, and maintain the exchange of ideas, experience, and a cordial working relationship with other firefighting agencies locally and internationally?”The Liberia National Fire Service has been unable to achieve its overall mandate as a result of funding impediments, less manpower, unqualified and unskilled personnel, absence of modern fire equipment, non-enforcement of zonal laws, temporary facilities, and other competing challenges. The Liberia National Fire Service was more effective and efficient in providing public safety prior to the civil war. Incidents of fire outbreaks were ably controlled by firefighters during those days because adequate resources were available. The current state of LNFS is too troubling. If prompt interventions are not taken in order to avert potential fire destructions, our nation stands to risk a lot. It is time to prioritize public safety through capacity building of fire personnel.The need to reform LNFS cannot be overstated. The Liberia National Fire Service needs rapid transformation if this government is sincere and serious about protecting more lives and properties from potential fire disasters. Liberia has one of the most ineffective and inefficient firefighting forces in West Africa. Much has not been done since 2006 to empower this key public service agency. The need to increase the numerical strength of LNFS is a crucial step forward to enhancing public safety and protection. Our nation can only boast of a well-equipped firefighting force if policy-drivers and decision-makers become more sincere to themselves and those serve. According to a five year strategic plan produced by LNFS with support from UNDP, the current workforce of LNFS is 545 fire personnel and vast majority of these firefighters are unprofessional and untrained to combat fire disasters. It is a shame to have 30.7 acres of land situated at White Plains, but we cannot even point to a single fire and rescue academy or headquarter. Below is a statistical overview of fire personnel Liberians and non-Liberians depend on every day to prevent and control fire occurrences. Below High School…………182High School Graduate….…..253University Students……..…..75First Degree………………….34Post Graduate…………..……..1Total……………………..….545How can 545 persons protect over 3.5 million people from fire tragedy? This means one (1) firefighter is under statutory obligation to provide safety for 6,422 citizens. This is totally impractical and insensitive. Those who call themselves national leaders need to prioritize the wellbeing of our people by investing more resources to upgrade the current capacity of LNFS. It will interest you to know that the Liberia National Fire Service is still renting a private building as its headquarters. This is really appalling. The country needs a state-of-the-art facility in order for LNFS to effectively actualize its mandate.This is the strength of LNFS in terms of logistical capacity and we think more needs to be done in order to uplift our crawling National Fire Service:1. Three fire engines2. One water tanker3. Five vehicles4. Two ambulances5. Six motor bikes6. One 30-Kva Generator7. One repeater8. Three laptops and five desktops9. Two hundred pieces of uniforms and accessories10. Fifty pieces of handsets and accessories 11. 30.7 acres of landSometimes I wonder how we intend to attract more foreign companies and investments when we lack an effective system of disaster management. If our leaders are serious about industrializing this country in order to provide more jobs, then they need to build a strong national fire service force. Genuine development can only become a reality if potential fire outbreaks are prevented and ably handled.According to the strategic plan of LNFS, Liberia has incurred a total loss of $US8,544,031 from 2006 to 2009 as a result of fire outbreaks. The total number of casualties during this period was 77. LNFS has attributed incidents of fire outbreaks to low public awareness and knowledge, use of lanterns, homemade lamps, candles among others. Traffic congestion, congested neighborhoods due to non-compliance of zoning ordinances make it impossible sometimes for fire trucks to navigate populated communities. These are existing challenges that are also obstructing the operations of LNFS. As our population increases, we must being to find suitable solutions to some of these challenges.Besides Montserrado County, residents from other counties are completely disconnected from fire services. They have been fighting their own battles since 2006! This is really painful and we think genuine steps need to be taken in order to safeguard lives and properties nationwide. The need to have Fire Brigade in each county or political subdivision is critical to economic expansion. We can prevent fire disasters if those who manage State resources exhibit a high sense of patriotism and loyalty to nationhood. We can achieve this if we truly believe in a new Liberia. It is possible if only we begin to fully implement the Decentralization Plan! We hope this regime has not forgotten about the October 1963 Act that created the Liberia National Fire Service. We can make it better if we are sincere to ourselves and those we serve. It is always good to identify problems, but it is better to find solutions to those problems. As we have always done, these are recommendations that could help reduce the increasing rate of fire incidents and avert potential casualties:Revision of October 1963 National Fire Service Act (Public hearings and consultations are key during this process.Increase manpower and provide intensive local and international training for firefighters.Increase budgetary allotment especially salaries, allowances, and incentives. This will enhance motivation as well.Construct a modern fire service and rescue academy and headquarters. The construction of regional and county facilities (fire stations) is also a national imperative.Develop a realistic national fire service roadmap and disaster management/response mechanism. (Regular monitoring and evaluation structure is also crucial)Procure modern and adequate firefighting equipment/logistics.Establish fire service taskforce/brigade in each county, district, or community.Conduct quarterly fire awareness, education, and sensitization nationwide.Ensure each concession company, corporation, or industry has a fire brigade with modern equipment including fire extinguishers, trucks, etc.Ensure each house, school, church, mosque, or public building has access to fire extinguishers.Lobby with foreign fire service agencies to assist LNFSEnforce zonal laws. If these measures are put in place, public safety shall surely become a major priority under this regime and regimes to come. However, we want to encourage all community dwellers to remain very collaborative whenever there is fire outbreak. As we remain restless in making a strong case for our crawling national fire service, it is our hope that this government and its partners will speedily intervene to upgrade the current condition of the Liberia National Fire Service.About The Author: Martin K. N. Kollie is a Liberian youth activist, student leader, an emerging economist, and a young writer.  He is currently a student at the University of Liberia reading Economics and a member of the Student Unification Party (SUP).  His passion is to ensure a new Liberia of socio-economic equality and justice for ALL. He can be reached at: [email protected]last_img read more

first_img…“it’s non-negotiable”- Min Holder declares The ban imposed against fishermen, preventing them from operating at the Hope Canal, is said to be “non-negotiable”.This announcement was made by Agriculture Minister Noel Holder during Thursday’s sitting of the National Assembly, after he was probed by Member of Parliament (MP) Nigel Dharamlall in respect to the measures that the Ministry has set to ensure that fishermen ply their trade unhindered.Holder indicated that the fishermen had not sought permission before using the canal to dock their vessels. He recalled that for a number of years, the men were utilising the Hope Drainage Canal Outlet Channel. It was after the establishment of the Hope Canal that they chose to shift for the purpose of mooring their boats.“After the construction of the eight-door relief sluice at Hope — this was commissioned in 2015 — some fishermen from the Hope drainage outfall started to moor their vessels at the Hope Relief Outfall Channel,” the Minister stated.The Minister also highlighted that the migration, which began in early 2017, has been rapidly increasing over the past months. As a result, many challenges have been faced with when the men utilise the canal at various hours during the day, since they work in correspondence with the changing tides.“The passage of fishermen and, who knows, perhaps other persons of questionable character at varying hours during the night has caused a security nightmare at the site, and has resulted in numerous confrontations and threats between the site security and the fishermen,” he stated at the National Assembly.Furthermore, it was revealed that a site in close proximity to the canal, which normally houses valuables such as generators, motors and wenches, holds an accumulated cost of $43.7 million.“The Ministry of Agriculture is reluctant to expose the site and its valuables to any fish trader,” Holder said.In response to a question posed by Dharamlall, asking whether the gates leading to the canal would be open for the vehicles of the fish traders, Holder said that from the time the Hope Relief Sluice was constructed, there was always a gate at the beginning of the road, near the East Coast Public Road.However, that gate has been relocated, he said, and a fence has also been added to prevent vehicles from “continuing to traverse the high level dam”, as he claims that this could result in a breach, which could also prove to cause severe flooding in the Ann’s Grove village, among other nearby areas.Earlier this month, a notice was subsequently served by the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA), preventing the men from docking their fishing vessels at the canal. Due to this, several concerns were raised to address the situation, which led to their dockage at the opening of the canal.This included the damages that their boats receive by forceful waves when they are left in the open, which results in losses to their earnings and livelihoods.Fishermen have stated that they simply cannot relocate to the koker, since they reasoned that it was smaller and incapable of lending support to all of the vessels during high tides and inclement weather conditions. Some had even agreed to tie their fishing boats away from the canal, where it would not pose a threat to the water flow or structures.Those who operate at the canal had pleaded with Government for the decision to be reviewed, noting that their only intention is to harbour their boats and save the vessels from incurring losses.last_img read more

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