HARBEL, Margibi â€“ The mayor of Unification City in Margibi, Samuel Berrien, has revealed the establishment of sister-city relations with two prominent cities in the United States. The sisterly ties with the cities of Waterloo, Iowa and Isanti, Minnesota, come following separate engagements between the mayor and his U.S. counterparts.
The agreements were announced in a dispatch from the U.S., where Berrien is currently visiting.
Responding to a formal invitation to visit the U.S. in October from a former Margibi resident, Alexander Collins, as well as the New Horizon Resource, a not-for-profit organization which Collins heads as chief executive officer, Berrien said he had only one goal in mind â€“ to forge sisterly relationships with friendly cities of two historically close nations.
Since his arrival in the U.S., Berrien has had consultations with various city authorities and city council members, including with Mayor Quintin M. Heart of Waterloo, whose resolution for a sisterly relationship with the Unification City was overwhelmingly endorsed by members of the Waterloo City Council.
The city council of Isanti, Minnesota also endorsed the establishment of a â€˜Sister City Relationship and Public Safetyâ€™ dialogue with its Liberian counterpart.
Berrien expressed excitement that his cityâ€™s ties with Waterloo and Isanti will turn out mutually beneficial for all the municipalities involved, especially his own.
â€œI am hopeful that these ties will go a long way and will also impact greatly the citizens of Mboo Statutory District and the eight-mile city limits of Unification City,â€ he added.
â€œWe will continue to engage and keep our relationships with Waterloo and Isanti strong. They have a lot we can tap in and even benefit directly; especially for a city that has no direct government support,â€ Berrien added.
Similar optimism was also expressed by Collins, who initiated the sisterly contacts.
In light of mounting economic challenges in Liberia, Collins hoped that the new relationships would facilitate trade and commerce, people-to-people relationships, resource exchanges, and possible assistance.
Unification City is the official seat of Mboo Statutory District, established in 2003 by law. It did not take effect, however, until 2013 when its first leadership was appointed by former president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
The districtâ€™s operations have not been without challenges. There has been limited budgetary support, although various superintendents with statutory authorities over it have been appointed by both presidents Sirleaf and George Weah.
Unification City is also home to Liberiaâ€™s only international airport, the Roberts International Airport, as well as the Firestone Rubber Company, the Farmington Hotel, and other notable businesses.
Despite the presence of these companies, the city appears to be underachieving. At the recent groundbreaking of the new airport terminal, President Sirleaf frowned upon the apparent unsanitary condition of the city and called upon its leaders to strive to keep it clean, considering that it is the first image of Liberia that visitors see upon exiting the airport.
Featured photo courtesy of Unification City