BUCHANAN, Grand Bassa – The Institute for Research and Democratic Development has released its findings on the effectiveness and efficiency of the Grand Bassa County Service Center. The report identifies several deficiencies at the center.
IREDD’s evaluation of the center is part of a project to advocate for transparent and accountable decentralization reforms aimed at improving efficiency in service delivery in four counties, including Grand Bassa, Nimba, Bong, and Margibi.
The Grand Bassa County Service Center was established in 2015 to allow residents of the county to access services that were previously only available in Monrovia. In theory, Grand Bassa residents can now access services offered by the government such as marriage certificates, birth certificates, labor inspections and business registration.
The government agencies present at the center include the Ministry of Labor, the Ministry of Commerce, the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, the Ministry of Public Works, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health, the Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services, the Internal Audit Agency, the Liberia Revenue Authority, the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection, and the Central for National Document Registration and Archives.
IREDD only monitored six of these entities during its assessment in July: the Internal Audit Agency, the Liberia Revenue Authority, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Health, the Central for National Document Registration and Archives, and the Liberia Maritime Authority. However, the Maritime Authority is only temporarily located at the center and does not provide services to the public.
During the assessment, monitors visited the county service center twice a week and reported on their observations.
In its report, IREDD found that the Internal Audit Agency was not doing a good job of providing information to the public on its work auditing agencies at the service center.
At the Liberia Revenue Authority, IREDD found that while the staff were punctual, taxpayers complained that they were not being served on a first come first served basis.
Additionally, the report found that the facility was not accessible: “People with disabilities also complained that they find it difficult to access the building hosting LRA because they have to go up and down a flight of stairs.”
“In fact, there is no information on the public bulletin explaining the functions of the LRA and revenue payment processes. Monitors were unable to verify the number of LRA staff working at the hub,” the report further indicated.
At the Ministry of Internal Affairs, IREDD revealed that logistical challenges at the institution resulted in delays in customers getting their customary marriage certificates.
“The power supply is not reliable. There is no internet connectivity, and the unit operates with a single computer and a printer, which often runs out of ink,” the report added.
IREDD’s monitors also observed that although Central for National Document Registration and Archives’ staff are punctual, actual work usually started an hour late, with limited available public information on services delivered by the center.
The Ministry of Health received one of the better ratings, with IREDD observing that the customer service booth had relatively more information than other agencies. Additionally, documents are processed quickly with wait times averaging three days, even though only one staff is stationed at the service center.
According to Harold Aidoo, IREDD’s executive director, reports on the three other counties would be presented shortly. He said the pilot project would run for one year and if support continues, it would be rolled out at other county service centers.
Aidoo said the issues identified at the Grand Bassa County Service Center are similar to that of the rest of the three service centers.
Speaking to journalists after IREDD presented the report, the coordinator of the Grand Bassa County Service Center, Mac Willis, described the report as a welcoming development.
He said it would serve as a motivational tool for the staff of various agencies at the center to improve the services provided to Grand Bassa residents.
Featured photo by Sampson David