PROVIDENCE, R.I., United States – Rep. Dorwohn Gleekia of Nimba’s sixth district recently addressed Nimbaians based in the United States where he outlined key legislative and development achievements of his district since he took office in January.
Gleekia spoke in Providence, Rhode Island during the 17th annual convention of the Tappita District Development Association, also known as TADDA, on Saturday, July 14.
He disclosed that as part of his first 100 days deliverables, he convinced his colleagues to increase the Jackson F. Doe Memorial Hospital’s allotment from US$2.6 million to US$3.1 million in the current budget.
“That’s our way of fulfilling our campaign promise at it relates to health,” he also told The Bush Chicken afterward in an interview. “We have also planned to construct a clinic in one of the regions of the district.”
Gleekia announced that he had also introduced a bill to create a new administrative district in Tappita, in line with his 100-day promise. That bill is currently being reviewed by the relevant committee in the House of Representatives. When passed, it will provide for a new commissioner in Gblor Dialar, which will become the seat of the new district.
During his 2017 election campaign, the lawmaker also promised to introduce a bill to transform the Tappeh Memorial High School into a technical college. He told The Bush Chicken that despite failing to introduce a bill to upgrade the high school in his first 100 days, he has concluded a fruitful discussion with the Ministry of Education on modalities for that to happen.
“They have agreed to support the vocational program and pretty soon, the issue of transforming the Tappeh Memorial High into a technical college would begin,” he added. Gleekia said additionally, the Ministry of Education has informed him that it is establishing Nimba’s third educational district in Tappita.
In addition to his focus on the technical college, the Nimba representative said 10 persons are being sent to attend a vocational training program in Yekepa. He expects them to return to serve at a vocation training center that is also expected to be reopened in Tappita.
More on the educational front, Gleekia said he has secured accommodations for a number of students from his district attending the Nimba County Community College in Sanniquellie through negotiations with ArcelorMittal. He added that an additional 30 students have also been recruited to benefit from the Henry Dorwohn Gleekia scholarship, with a total allotment of US$2,000.
In continuing the legacy of his predecessor, Gleekia said he intends to consult with the District Development Council to use a portion of the US$30,000 allotment toward Legislative Support Projects to complete an unfinished guest house initiated by his predecessor in Tappita. He said although 100 percent of the payment was made to the contractor through the Liberia Agency for Community Empowerment, the contractor defaulted on the project.
Among the top issue of concern for diaspora citizens of the district was the condition of roads leading to Tappita. The representative said US$2 million had been allotted in the recast budget for a private contractor to recondition roads in the district, ahead of plans by the government to pave the road from Ganta to Zwedru.
Diaspora citizens were also concerned about the ongoing debate to divide Nimba into three counties. On that issue, the Tappita lawmaker maintained neutral, but he said he supports conducting the national census and setting up a threshold for district demarcation. Gleekia also said he supported the passage of the Local Governance Act as a means of addressing the major issues of development and accountability that spurred the debate to divide the county.
He praised the Tappita District Development Association for its continuous interventions and support to development in the district and promised to further a friendly partnership that would benefit his people.
The group’s executive director, Joanne Toweh, similarly praised the lawmaker for honoring their invitation and providing updates of development in the district. Toweh said her group would continue to work with the lawmaker and other local officials to address the needs of their district.
Over the years, she said TADDA has made several interventions in the district, including the reconstruction of the Tappeh Memorial High School and a resource center which were ravaged during the war, the purchase of a new transmitter for the Voice of Tappita radio station, provision of medical aid and scholarships, construction of two elementary schools in Grenpea and Gblounla, and construction of a clinic in Yourpea.
“Our most memorable one that is to come is the shipping of 10 44-feet containers of medical supplies and equipment to the Jackson F. Doe Hospital and 13 clinics in the district over the next ten years,” she said.
This initiative would be made possible through a partnership with Duke University in North Carolina, which has also offered to provide free research and medical services following an assessment visit to the district two years ago.
“They thought it wise to send medical equipment and supply to Liberia to help the people of the district,” she noted.
She added that the university recently dispatched a team to Liberia to assess the water system of the district after Ebola for a possible installation of a water filtration system: “They were there last year. They have made three trips; this is their fourth trip.”
Toweh also raised the issue of huge unemployment and the high cost of electricity in the district as serious issues of concern for diaspora citizens. She said the lawmaker has also promised to work on luring a company that can invest in the district to provide employment.
The TADDA executive director refused to comment on the proposal to divide the county, saying that her group is an apolitical group.
The group raised more than US$6,000 during a fundraising event held on one day of the convention. The total tally is expected to be significantly higher. Toweh said the money would be used to support initiatives in the district.
Featured photo by Gbatemah Senah