GBARNGA, Bong – Public Works Minister Mobutu Nyenpan has concluded his assessment of three unfinished projects in Gbarnga.
The projects include the stalled construction of the Bong County Technical College, the Gbarnga Streets Pavement project, and the Sirleaf Market Women construction project.
Both the Bong County Technical College and Gbarnga Streets projects are funded from the County Social Development Funds, while the Sirleaf Market Women project is sponsored by an independent organization, the Sirleaf Market Women’s Fund.
Nyenpan said the assessment was done “to establish the costs of completing the three projects” for the government’s intervention to complete them.
“We have come to do the technical assessment and meet with the relevant institutions of government to ensure that these projects resume and are completed for the use of our people,” Nyenpan told reporters.
He said President George Weah’s administration was determined to complete major infrastructure projects started by the previous administration.
Started in late 2010, the total cost of completing the construction of the Bong County Technical College was placed at US$4.9 million.
With more than US$6 million infused in the project, the construction is yet to be completed; only a portion of the basement of the three-story structure has been completed.
The finished portion of the basement is being used to run the college while plans to complete the vast unfinished portion of the college remain uncertain.
Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor, who was senator of Bong for the past 12 years, accompanied Nyenpan during the assessment.
She said corruption on the part of some county officials was responsible for the delay in these projects.
“If you talk to anyone in Bong County, they will tell you that this was my voice: that county monies sent to upgrade our county and build new facilities should not have been squandered,” Howard-Taylor said.
Asked about her role in holding accountable those responsible for the “corrupt acts of some county officials,” Howard-Taylor said the other Bong lawmakers hindered such actions.
“The [Bong County Legislative] Caucus is made of nine members and whenever we got together to make decisions, the eight members said they were going left even if they knew it was not the right decision,” she said.
But some of the vice president’s critics say she could have done more against those she claims mismanaged the county’s funds while she was a sitting senator.
Former representative of Bong’s third district and former chairperson of the Bong Legislative Caucus, George Mulbah, disagreed with Howard-Taylor’s statements.
Mulbah said as leaders of Bong, lawmakers properly used funds that came to the county for development.
“We have proper documentation for all of our transactions,” he said. “If anyone wants to go to court on the issue of the Bong County Technical College, we will be ready to defend ourselves and provide evidence.”
The cost of paving 2.4 km roads in Gbarnga amounted to US$1.35 million and the county paid US$676,875 to East International, the company hired to implement the project.
Even though half of the amount was paid to the contractor, the project is not yet 50 percent complete. Meanwhile, the contractor has not been seen working in the county for two years running now.
As for the Sirleaf Market Women project in Bong, it was meant to relocate the Gbarnga Central Market from its current congested facility on Broad Street in Gbarnga.
Founded in 2007 by group of concerned women from around the world in honor of the election of Africa’s first female president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Sirleaf Market Women’s Fund is an international NGO “committed to restoring the livelihoods of market women in Liberia and across Africa.”
Amid outcries from marketers in Gbarnga during the last two years of former president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s presidency, authorities of the Sirleaf Market Women’s Fund project failed to complete the project for unexplained reasons.
They failed to respond to several Bush Chicken’s inquires about the completion of the project.
Featured photo by Moses Bailey