Logging Fees Used to Build US$45,000 Guest House; Community Says They Had No Input

YOLO, River Cess – The Community Forestry Development Committee of Forest Management Contract Area K has completed the construction of a guest house in Upper River Cess, using income provided to the community through logging fees.

The guest house has steel doors at both its back and front, sliding windows, eight bedrooms, and a kitchen.

A recent Bush Chicken tour of communities near concession areas in both Nimba and River Cess reviewed and assessed several projects sponsored by land rental fees.

The Bush Chicken could not reach any member of the community forestry development committee for comments, but Paramount Chief Dee Zeegar said the structure cost US$45,000.

Residents of the community said the decision to construct the guest house was made by the CFDC and they had little, if any input.

“We are not saying the building is not good, but we were not part of the decision,” Zeegar said. “They [the CFDC] only told us they got money from the benefits sharing trust board and that they will build a guest house for the community.”

In addition to Zeegar’s objection over the choice of project to fund, some women in Yolo told The Bush Chicken that they would have chosen to fund a school over a guest house if they were included in the decision-making process.

The only public school in the community is built of mud walls and has yet to be plastered. There are not enough classroom furniture, and students must carry their own seats to classes. The women said far from renovating the existing school, a good portion of the money could have even been used to construct a new school building.

Though community members complained that they were not consulted by the CFDC in deciding the project, the guest house remains the only CFDC project that The Bush Chicken observed to have been completed in River Cess.

In Yarpah Town in Central River Cess District, the CFDC for Forest Management Contract Area B, headed by Matthew Walley, has been constructing a vocational training center since October 2016, but the building is yet to be completed.

According to Walley, the cost of the project is US$66,341, of which US46,341 has already been used. He said a request of US$20,000 has now been forwarded to the benefits sharing trust board to complete the building.

Featured photo by Eric Doue

Eric Doue

Eric Opa Doue is a co-founder of Echo Radio Station, which does a series of programs in Bassa, Kru, and simple Liberian English. Under his leadership, Echo Radio was selected as one of the Moody Radio global partners for training opportunities in 2013 and 2014. Eric was one of a handful of reporters who received training from Internews in 2015 on humanitarian reporting during the Ebola outbreak in Liberia. He holds a diploma in Journalism, from the Ghana Institute of Journalism.

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