BUCHANAN, Grand Bassa – Grand Bassa’s legislative caucus has announced its decision to allow the county authority to extend the rental agreement for heavy construction equipment belonging to the county.
The announcement comes after pressure from youth groups and other citizens who were worried that the county superintendent, Janjay Baikpeh, had sold the equipment.
The county entered the new contract with Varney Kaba on March 15 to rent an 18-tire low-bed Mercedes truck and a 10-tire Mercedes dump truck. Kaba is expected to pay US$2,500 monthly to the county until March 15, 2020.
The contract stipulates that the county has the right to use the equipment if it informs Kaba a week in advance.
Kaba previously entered a contract in May 2018 to rent the county equipment to allow the county government to support its operations. That contract ran from May 25 until November 25, 2018 and required Kaba to pay the county US$4,000 monthly.
The rental fees had been essential to the county authority in the absence of county and social development funds. When Superintendent Baikpeh took over, his administration inherited the contract and decided to continue it.
Before the contract was revived, Kaba had owed US$15,000 to the county and asked to repay the debt by conducting repair work on two of the county equipment – a front loader and a motor grader.
The move by Baikpeh to continue the contract sparked debates across the county, as some citizens believed that he had sold the equipment. Among these was a group calling itself the Harlandsville Citizens Movement, whose members appeared on community radio stations calling on the superintendent to bring the equipment back for use in rehabilitating community roads.
A month ago, the demands even led Baikpeh to parade with the low bed truck in Buchanan to authenticate that he did not sell the equipment but rather rented it.
The many calls on radio shows and on social media prompted an investigation from the legislative caucus and eventually resulted in a resolution authorizing Baikpeh to continue the contract.
In a resolution written to Baikpeh signed by five of the caucus’ seven members, lawmakers urged the county to continue its contract with Kaba with few recommendations.
The caucus asked that the superintendent make a full report on the income generated from the first contract and how it was spent. The county’s lawmakers also asked that a payment plan be submitted for Kaba to provide the outstanding amount owed to the county from the past contract.
Lawmakers also mandated that the county administration make quarterly reports to the caucus on the execution of the contract.
The resolution was signed by five members of the caucus including Rep. Thomas Goshua, Rep. Matthew Joe, Rep. Vincent Willie, Rep. Mary Karwor, and Sen. Jonathan Kaipay. Rep. Hans Barchue and Sen. Nyonblee Karngar-Lawrence did not sign.
The caucus’ resolution appears to have allayed the concerns of citizens.
Featured photo by Sampson David