River Cess Council Sitting Prioritizes Unfinished Development Projects

CESTOS, River Cess – Over the weekend, delegates at River Cess’ fourth county council sitting voted to use this year’s allotment of the county and social development funds to complete mostly unfinished development projects across the county.

All the projects earmarked for implementation are existing initiatives, except for the construction of a concrete bridge over the Druah River in Zahnflahn District. Delegates allotted US$79,000 for the bridge’s construction.

Formally opening this year’s council sitting, River Cess senator and the chair of the River Cess Legislative Caucus, Dallas Gueh, told citizens that US$207,660 had been remitted to the county as a county development fund for the 2018/2019 fiscal year. Gueh said no money had been received for social development fund, which is usually derived from concession companies operating in a county.

More than 80 delegates from the county’s eight administrative districts attended the three-day meeting. Civil society representatives, community-based organizations, and representatives from USAID observed the deliberations.

The delegates voted to allocate US$10,000 and US$9,000 to complete the Jo River and Fen River administrative district headquarters, respectively. They also elected to spend US$5,000 each for the renovations of both Central ‘C’ and Nyorwein Administrative Districts headquarters.

Although the budget law prevents the amount used for the operations of the Project Management Committee from exceeding 10 percent of the total county development fund to be used, the county allotted US$22,000 for the PMC’s operations, in violation of the limit. The PMC administers and monitors the spending of the funds. An additional US$6,500 was also allotted for the operations of statutory and administrative districts within the county.

The delegates have also apportioned US$5,000 for the renovation, furnishing, and electrification of the abandoned superintendent’s residence, US$4,000 to complete the furnishing of the traditional council’s headquarters and US$9,000 for the construction of a radio station.

Also, for the completion of all legislative support projects, the county agreed to spend US$13,000 and another US$13,000 to electrify Cestos City.

The construction of individual district headquarters across River Cess was embarked upon during the previous administration of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, but none has been fully completed.

Only one of the commissioner’s compound is currently occupied by a district commissioner; the rest of the projects, each of which cost US$35,000, currently lie unfinished. The funds to begin those construction projects came from the county’s social development fund made available by the National Oil Company of Liberia.

 

The Fen River Administrative District Headquarters still lies in ruin after receiving three huge allotments; photo by Eric Opa Doue

River Cess’ former Project Management Committee chair, who is now assistant superintendent for fiscal affairs, Elijah Kassaynee, reported during the just-ended council sitting that an additional US$28,125 was allocated for the completion of the Fen River Administrative District headquarters during the last fiscal year.

Other new allotments approved included US$15,000 for the River Cess University Student Union, US$1,000 for the county’s disabled community, US$2,000 for the River Cess Broadcasting Service, US$1,000 for Echo Radio, US$1,166 for the Liberia National Red Cross River Cess chapter, and US$5,000 for the county’s soccer and kickball teams.

The delegates also elected a three-member PMC to serve a tenure of three years, in line with the budget law. They include River Cess Broadcasting Service’s finance officer Romeo Kebbeh as chairman, the station’s board chair Isaac Trobeh as comptroller, and Andrew Gueh, who currently serves on the county health team as treasurer.

River Cess saw a pause in development projects during the previous administration because, for five years, the county’s legislative caucus imposed a moratorium on the use of the social development because of corruption.

Featured photo by Eric Opa 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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