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GBA Fosters Unity

By: David S. Johnson/dsavid41@gmail.com / Intern

A newly founded youth-based organization in the Sophie Community, called Golden Bird Association (GBA), has vowed to foster unity among community members.

GBA, through its Chairman on Mobilization, Arthur Holder, said it will carry out the exercise by creating awareness on issues, including teenage pregnancy, harmful substances and other vices that pose danger to the society.

In an interview with the In Profile Daily on Saturday,  Holder said the organization intends to venture into awareness and counselling on teenage pregnancy and enlightening youths on being positive.

The GBA Mobilization Chairman noted that the organization was founded on July 12, 2014 with the aim  of promoting and scouting youthful talents as well as creating unity within the community and its surroundings.

According to him, one of the organization’s targets is the issue of tackling HIV/AIDs through awareness; which is one of the most prevalent sicknesses among young people.

Holder named another challenge confronting young people as  harmful drugs’ consumption by young people; something he noted the organization has been working to mitigate.

The GBA Mobilization Chairman also said if youth in the community are not properly educated to the effects of harmful drugs’ usage as well as the danger teenage pregnancy poses to young women, they will become addicted to such harmful substances thus impeding girls’ educational and social status.

Drug usage, he stressed, “starts with the individual and spreads through influence to other youths in the community as such, the organization seeks to give out free counselling to youths who are constantly involved with these negative practices.”

He continued: “It would be of importance if a fellow youth is helping in the process of mobilizing, counselling and creating awareness on important issues which seek to attract another youth into listening.”

Also speaking, the President of GBA, Mayango Sinnatuah, expressed frustration that the organization is not being supported by other well-meaning Liberians despite these meaningful contributions. “Rather, we are depending on internal source for income generations,” he said.

Sinnatuah also said: “The entire finance for this organization is being generated from the members through voluntary donations and dues.”

The GBA President also informed the In Profile Daily that though they have sent out several letters for support to organizations within the community and its environs, there hasn’t been any reply.

Sinnatuah said the organization is hoping to reduce illiteracy among youth in the community through awareness on the prevention of Human Immune Virus or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS), Sexually Transmitted Disease (STDs) and its prevention.

He said they are anticipating the help of other organizations to help in buttressing their initiatives and further encouraged other communities to initiate programs that will empower youth for a brighter future.

Meanwhile, youths in the community have expressed satisfaction for the establishment of the organization which they said is fostering unity among them.

Deficits Hit Cocopa! -Layoff Imminent

By: Fredrick P. W. Gaye & Gborontaye Gboron

Despite court ruling in favor of the Government to take over the Cocopa Rubber Plantation in Nimba County, situation at the plantation is said to be going from bad to worse; thus putting the workers at loggerheads with the caretaker company.

The Nimba Rubber Incorporated (NRI) was appointed by the 8th Judicial Circuit Court in Sanniquellie, Nimba County, to take care of the plantation after GOL sued LIBCO for not performing consistent with the GOL-LIBCO Agreement.

It can be recalled that recently, workers of the plantation threatened to go-slow in demand of their four-month salary arrears that management allegedly owes them.

Speaking to the In Profile Daily in Ganta recently, the President of Cocopa Workers Union, Sarpah B. Mah, alleged that for the past four months, the company has not paid their salaries; something he said is creating serious hardship on workers and families. Mah put the number of workers at 1, 165 and tappers alone at 492.

However, he said management paid them only one month salary during the July 26 Independence celebration.

When contacted at his Congo Town Office on Saturday, August 8, 2015, Nimba Rubber Incorporated (NRI) General Manager/Chief Executive Officer, Solomon S. W. Gaigaie, admitted that the company owes the employees four months’ salary arrears; but said management has paid one month, while the arrears of three months still outstanding. He named the remaining months as May, June and July of 2015. Gaigaie also said the NRI owes other vendors due to the situation.

He alleged that since the court ruled and turned the plantation over to the government, employees have been reluctant to work, thus affecting production.  “This reduction in production, coupled with the drop in rubber price on the world market, creates a condition where the company spends far beyond its sales, adding to accrued deficits,” Gaigaie explained.

According to him, NRI took over the company on October 1, 2013, at the time when previous company, LIBCO, had not paid employees for three months (July, August and September of 2013) and other vendors in the amount of US$1,180,057.00 (one million one hundred and eighty thousand fifty seven United States dollars).

The NRI head told this paper that negotiations are ongoing to settle the employees’ salary arrears by September 12, 2015.

He disclosed plans by management to pay off all employees due to overstaff in the face of drop in rubber price, coupled with reduction in production. For the payoff, he said it will be done in phases; though he did not mention how many phases.

Gaigaie claimed that the plantation was overstaffed by LIBCO when rubber price was high, but failed to reduce staff when rubber price started dropping on the world market; something he said has created serious problem for NRI.

He, however, said NRI will recruit manageable staff and employees following the payoff exercise in order to make the plantation profitable. “What we are doing now is like running an NGO. But we will recruit manageable staff and employees to make the plantation profitable,” he emphasized.

To keep the plantation from collapse, Gaigaie said government had intervened by paying US$411,087 to pay the inherited three-month salary arrears and supply rice to employees.

Since 2013 up to present, as indicated in its 16-month report made to the 8th Judicial Circuit Court in February 2015, Cocopa has not been able to pay employees and vendors, he said, adding, “So, as a management, we have always subsidized to settle salaries to employees and other operation expenses.”

In the report, which covered October 1, 2013 to January 31, 2015, Gaigaie explained that NRI, in collaboration with its partners, invested US$2,105,363.35 (two million one hundred five thousand three hundred and sixty three United States dollars thirty five cents), in addition to the US$1,588,554.00 (one million five hundred eighty eight thousand five hundred fifty four United States dollars) generated from rubber sales during the period under review.

The former, he said was a deficit after spending US$3,693,917.45 (three million six hundred ninety three thousand nine hundred and seventeen United States dollars forty five cents) on salaries, wages, benefits and other operation activities during the period under review.

Additionally, an NRI record covering February-July 23, 2015, indicates a down trend of monthly sales that were far less than salaries. NRI made a net sales of US$47,415.75 (forty seven thousand four hundred and fifteen United States dollars seventy five cents) in March 2015, with salary payment of US$128,884.60 (one hundred twenty eight thousand eight hundred eighty four United States dollars and sixty cents) in said month.

US$100m Investment Pinches -APM Terminal “Operations Economy Backlash”

By T. Michael Johnny 0886571899/0775820581

A 25-year concession agreement valued at US$100 million signed by the government and APM Terminal to manage, operate and modernize the National Port Authority (NPA) in February 2011, has been slightly criticized for its high taxes charged and undue bureaucracies in its cargo handling.

During public hearing of the Government-APM Terminal agreement in 2010, former Senators Isaac Nyenabo and Abel Massally of Grand Gedeh and Grand Cape Mount Counties respectively were apprehensive over the agreement both in contest of monetary value and scope of operations relative to the ailing economy.

The “meagre” US$100 million deal, according to the ex-vocal lawmakers was extremely minute in terms of investment for least developed countries like Liberia and doubted the institution’s immediate authority over the aging dilapidated port whose facilities dwarfed its modern counterparts.

Giving their input during deliberations and discussions at plenary session in 2010, the ex-senators argued that the investment capital provided by APM Terminal could have been allocated in government’s budget and continue its operation instead of conceding to US$100 million agreement in which profits accrued by the institution would be used for “snail modernization” as evidenced by ongoing works.

Shuttling through countless APM Terminal offices at the busy NPA facility, a custom officer only identified as Peters frowned that undue bureaucracies and high taxes charged by the company have greatly contributed to the increase in prices of goods on the local market.

“It’s now a little bit difficult since APM Terminal took over operations of the port back in February 2011; taxes previously charged when the government was firmly in control have increased and this is a direct result of the agreement signed by the Unity Party-led government headed by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf government,” Peters claimed.

Informed sources at the Freeport who prefer anonymity confided in the In Profile Daily that the government and APM Terminal agreement is strictly based on alleged mutual consent with authorities in officialdom pocketing “lump sum monies” to protect the business interest of the company.

“Even before the deal was signed and operations formally commenced in 2011, the concession agreement was heavily criticized by a cross-section of citizens who held the opinion that taxes would dismally increase; here we are today,” said one anonymous source.

Under the leadership of suspended Managing Director Matilda Wokie Parker, the APM Terminal agreement was branded as “important partner” in building an infrastructure that would be enviable among ports in Africa, but five years following operations, there are still visible signs of limited improvement, although they have two decades to their credit.

Operating on approximately 600 meters quay, APM Terminal Liberia operates the Freeport of Monrovia, which constitutes the gateway to Liberia’s economy and boasts of “impressive multipurpose facility” composed of equipment to handle cargoes such as rice, cement, latex, unitized or palletized cargo, vehicles, frozen products and timber.

Although importers have increasingly complained about high taxes, however, authorities of APM Terminal said they are committed in creating new jobs, careers and training opportunities for Liberians that will create lives for generations.

The company said in leadership ranks, they are also committed to have local Liberians comprise 50% of its executives by 2016, claiming that they are on track to achieve it with 40% of its leadership team already comprising Liberians following 2014.

 

Busted! -DEA Storms ‘Turtle Base’

By: Lewis K. Glay 886469835/lglay.inprofile@gmail.com

At late morning Tuesday, the premises of the ‘Turtle Base,’ a notorious terrain in Paynesville experienced the wrath of newly recruited officers of the Drug Enforcement Agency under the command of Major William J.S. Sarville assigned in Paynesville.

“Alarm blow, alarm blow,” a travelling bag seller shouted as more than a dozen of drug users forced their way out from a portion of a demolished structure that was still erected and sealed with rumpled tarpaulins.

Like a colony of bees, the drug users, predominantly car loaders, fled their hide-out leaving behind personal effects, leaping helplessly under the influence of substances they appeared to have consumed in the morning hours.

Shortly, scores of DEA officers rushed on the scene from the arrear with knives and other instruments and brought down the tarpaulins as the occupants were in disarray.

In a distance at the arrear, a multitude of young people, supposedly those who are said to be lured into using harmful substances stood agape tweeting into the direction where the DEA raid was taking place near the main Red-light-ELWA route.

In a brief chat with Major Sarville on the scene, he noted that the exercise is a regular routine aimed at discouraging any community to keep drug users to cause insecurity among the populace.

“I’m Major William J. S. Sarville, Deputy Commander of Red-light Detail.  We try to do this exercise for Liberia to be freed from drugs. In Red-light, we demolish all suspected drug selling places.  This is what we are doing today along with the new DEA recruits…,” the officer in command of the operation told the In Profile during the raid on Tuesday, August 4, 2015.

Deputy Commander Sarville used the opportunity to appeal to the Liberian Government to support the efforts of the DEA to demolish all ghettos in Paynesville.

He assured the public that with the breaking down of drug users’ hide-outs at ‘Turtle Base,’ officers of DEA in Paynesville will continue to make their presence felt in the area, emphasizing that the particular area being occupied by those under the influence of unauthorized drugs has remained fearful for ordinary citizens to pass because most people continue to be victims of regular robberies there.

Though onlookers, especially citizens who reside in the midst of the drug users  stood by and appreciated the exercise of the DEA by nodding their heads and whispering their disgusting feelings about the inhumane activities of the young people who find themselves in the use of  harmful substances, a single concern  on the lips of  the residents and officers of the DEA present  remains how the land  being misused can be properly taken care of by the rightful owner to get the drug users out of the community;

Rep. Fahnbulleh Commended

By Kelvin Teikah Kpakolo/kpakolok@gmail.com/0886190023/0770326443

The youth of Montserrado County District Four have commended Representative Henry B. Fahnbulleh for his role played during the fight against the deadly Ebola virus in Liberia.

Speaking in an interview with the In Profile Daily last weekend, Joseph Yallah, Chairman of Youth in Action for Total Change (YATC), said Representative Fahnbulleh role played during the fight against the deadly Ebola virus showed that he is a hero and someone who believes in human capacity building.

According to him, Representative Fahnbulleh donated Ebola preventive materials, including food and some basic needs for residents of the district

He also noted that Representative Fahnbulleh provided scholarships for residents of the district since the re-opening of school in the country.

Yallah noted that the lawmaker used the Ebola period to unite residents of the district, something he said was in the best interest of the people.

Meanwhile, Representative Fahnbulleh has thanked the youth of the district and promised to continue to work in their interest and the district, noting that the district can never forward when they are not together and working as one family.

 

Phase One Textbooks’ Distribution Completed?

The Ministry of Education said it has completed the first phase of distribution of textbooks and school materials to some public schools in the country.

Though the process started in mid June and ended in July, some schools did not receive materials, Deputy Project Coordinator of the Global Partner for Education Project at the Ministry of Education, Joe Gbasakollie said: “When we did the assessment for the distribution, there were so many schools listed but due to the rain, we could not reach some schools. We have strategized that the CEOs and DEOs sign for books because it’s our primary goal for the students to receive the books.”

It is not yet known how many schools benefited, but Gbasakollie added: “We are doing a comprehensive report that will be concluded this week on all the schools that were served; [institutions] that were not reached. When we get that, we will tell you the total number of schools.”

Another reason that contributed to the unfinished process, Gbasakollie disclosed:  “We used the enrollment data gotten from the Ministry done in 2011-2012 for the distribution; we understand that some schools came into existence following that survey. The {pieces of}information need to be validated by CEOs and DEOs for such schools to form part of the distribution.”

With more than two hundred members of the distribution team, including County Educational Officers (CEO) and District Education Officers (DEO) to curtail irregularities, Gbasakollie stressed: “We did a school- to- school delivery unlike the methods used in the past in which we experienced shortfalls.”

There may be a second phase of textbooks distribution as Gbasakollie noted: “We still have textbooks, readers in excess at Ministry of Education warehouses around the city.”

In June 2015,  Gbasakollie  said “1,000,000  textbooks for grades 5-9 for the four core subjects, English, Math, Science, Social Studies with 20,000 teachers guides, supplementary readers for grades1-4, and instructional materials  for pupils in grade 1-9,   have been procured and stored at counties’ capitals to be distributed simultaneously nationwide.”

He further noted: “We are planning to dispatch a team by the 17  of this month; the distribution team is comprising  over 200 staff of the ministry’s central office, including 15 County Education Officers (CEO), 98 District Education Officers (DEO), and 5 professional staff  from each  county. “

The project is funded by the Global Partnership for Education, (GPE) and managed by the World Bank, while the implementing arm of the government is the Ministry of Education.

Plan To Combat SGBV, Harmful Traditional Practices Disclosed

By: Roland Davis-0776107962

The Government of Liberia and the United Nations Joint Programming Initiative to Prevent and Response to issues Against Sexual and Gender Based Violence and Harmful Traditional Practices in Liberia have designed a five- year strategic plan to deal with such situations in Liberia.

The five- year strategic plan program will run from July 2015 to July 2020, according to organizers.

This plan was disclosed at a meeting held recently at the RLJ Hotel, outside Monrovia, organized by UN Women in Liberia, facilitated by the Liberian Government and other UN agencies.

The meeting was aimed at finding a way forward for the implementation of the program in Liberia for the next five years, organizers indicated.

Giving  an overview of the strategic plan during the meeting, one of the facilitators, Patricia Jallah Scott, said the  plan is a proposal designed by the government and UN agencies intended to help build around a community-based approach, supported by five strategic pillars to prevent, response to SGBV cases and the issue of harmful traditional practices, particularly for Liberian girls.

Madam Scott indicated that the strategic plan is to also provide basic approach to the prevention, response to   survivor needs, safety, and protection in education, institutional strengthening and visibility or mass mobilization campaign against SGBV and harmful traditional practices in the country.

She noted that the program will help in protecting Liberian girls, including school- going population of the country, but called on the general public to collectively support the implementation of the program.

Madam Scott said the strategic plan has also been designed through a developed approach in local and consultative approach, including community dialogues conducted in ten of the fifteen counties of the country.

She said this was intended as a means of ensuring that the SGBV joint program builds on community solutions, informed by a robust context specific analysis of needs, based on communities’ knowledge and existing protection strategies, as well as disaggregated understanding of the diverse threats and opportunities within Liberia.

Madam Scott also noted that the approach was also intended to provide legal or policy analysis as well as institutional reviews to identify legal and policy enablers and the institutional readiness and capacity; a mapping of actors as an opportunity to strengthen synergies and avoid overlaps and duplication.

Meanwhile, also at the meeting, the organizers disclosed an estimated amount of US$50m as budget to be used for the implementation of the program in five years.

The meeting brought together several organizations, including government agencies, civil society groups, traditional council, UNDP, local media entities, WHO, UN Women, UNHCR, UNMIL,  UNFPA, among others.

The project is also facilities by the Ministry of Gender and Development, The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Information Cultural, Affairs and Tourism and the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

 

Forgery Suspect Charged & Detained

The Monrovia City Court has charged a 25-year-old man identified as Ben Sonni with forgery, counterfeiting and criminal conspiracy he reportedly committed against the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA).

The City Court on Tuesday, August 4, 2015 charged suspect Ben Sonni and sent him to the Monrovia Central Prison, pending court trial, while his partner in crime only identified as Lawrence is on the run.

Sonni was charged for “knowingly, intentionally and criminally” conspiring with Lawrence and others to produce, print, and sell fake job forms purported to be from the Liberia Revenue Authority for their personal gains. Their action violates Section 15.70, Subchapter E and Section 10.4 of the Penal Code of Liberia.

Sonni, who is a casual worker at the National Port Authority, was arrested recently by the Liberia Seaport Police and authorities of the LRA following a tipoff.

The public is hereby advised that the LRA is not selling any job forms and will never sell any forms for jobs. The public is requested to please take note and be guided accordingly.

UNDP Enhances Border Management

In order to support the decentralization of key security services in Liberia in the wake of the drawdown of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), two specific interventions were identified.

A refresher training for the Liberia National Police- Police Support Unit (LNP/PSU) and the procurement of full sets of uniforms for the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization- Border Patrol Unit (BIN/BPU) required funding.

The LNP/PSU officers who are deployed across the country are helping to prevent and respond to security incidents and concerns in communities while the BIN/BPU officers are ensuring border surveillance along the country’s border posts.

In fulfillment of one of the two areas of interventions for security services decentralization and the enhancement of border management in Liberia, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) with funding from the Peace Building Fund (PBF), Tuesday, turned over 167 sets of uniforms and accessories to the BIN for use by the Border Patrol Unit (BPU).

The items include pants, shirts, boots, berets, inner and outer belts, socks, shoulder cords, shoulder patches, whistles, handcuffs, handcuffs cases, expandable batons, whistle chains, whistle hooks, rain gear ponchos, classic crewneck T-shirts, immigration badges and private badges. They were officially handed over by Nessie Golakai- Gould, UNDP Assistant Country Director and Governance Pillar Team Leader.

“On behalf of UNDP through the Justice and Security Program, I am pleased to hand over 167 full sets of uniforms and accessories for BIN/BPU officers and hope that it will be distributed to the Border Patrol Unit (BPU) officers throughout the country,” Madam Gould said.

The UNDP Justice and Security Program (JSP) seeks to support the efforts of the Government of Liberia (GoL), through the Ministry of Justice and the Judiciary in the consolidation of recovery of the country through a focus on reforms aimed at strengthening security and justice institutions. It also supports Government efforts to revamp rural communities and reduce crime thus, creating a safe and secure environment for conflict prevention and development.

The JSP, through the Peace Building Fund is providing support to the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), the Judiciary, the Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR) and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) for implementation of the regional security Hubs 2 and 3 activities.

Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization Deputy Commissioner for Administration, Col. Danny B. Sartee and Director of Border Patrol Unit, Col. Wilson S. Garpeh, separately expressed appreciation to UNDP for the continued support to the BIN.

Col. Sartee assured that the items will be immediately dispatched and distributed amongst BIN officers at the various border posts in Liberia. He hailed BIN officers in the field for their sacrificial services to the State and people despite the numerous challenges being encountered.

 

 

Deal On Course! As ‘Dedicated Delegation’ Meets Boakai

Following their arrival in Monrovia last Friday and escorted at the Palm Spring Hotel in Congo Town by Liberian police, a delegation of Chinese companies yesterday met with Vice President Joseph N. Boakai at the Capitol Building.

A release from VP Boakai’s office issued yesterday said the Vice President hailed the relationship between Liberia and the Peoples Republic of China and spoke of the rising levels of economic cooperation that could bring the two peoples closer together and boost economic prosperity between the two nations.

Accordingly, Vice President Boakai said in recent times, he has seen a lot of cooperation between the two countries including the role of China in the fight against the deadly Ebola virus.

He reportedly spoke Wednesday when a thirteen- man Chinese business delegation, accompanied by Liberia’s Ambassador to China, McKinley Thomas and Chinese Ambassador to Liberia, Zhang Yue paid a courtesy call on him at his Capitol Building Office.

The delegation is said to include some of China’s top companies who said they were in the country to explore the possibility of investing in mining, power, engineering, fruit processing, and rail transport, solar and wind energy and mineral exploration, among others.

Vice President Boakai, the release noted, stressed that unless the natural resources of a country are exploited for the benefit of the people, the people will continue to live in poverty and noted that this is the largest Chinese business delegation he has hosted and hoped that something good can come out this visit. He admonished the two envoys and line ministries holding talks with the delegation to ensure that the visit yields the desired benefits for both Liberia and China.

The visit of the Chinese business delegation is said to be a forerunner to the visit of the Chinese Foreign Minister to Liberia in coming days.

On Monday, August 3, this paper reported the arrival of a ‘dedicated’ Chinese delegation in the country.

Credible information gathered recently in Monrovia from sources within government indicated tense progressive negotiations involving some officials of the Ellen-led regime and their Chinese counterparts, aimed at ensuring that a  Chinese company wins a bid to operate the Wologisi Mountain in Lofa County.

The In Profile was hinted that a seven-man Liberian delegation headed by Minister of State Without Portfolio, Sylvester Grigsby, recently visited China to strike the deal.

Accordingly, other members of the Liberian delegation included Jake Kabakollie from the National Oil Company of Liberia, the Deputy Chief of Office Staff to VP Boakai, the Special Assistant to VP Boakai, the Commander of the Executive Protective Services (EPS) assigned to VP Boakai, one Monbo from the National Social Security and Welfare Corporation (NASSCORP), and one Gus who is said to be Economic Advisor to President Sirleaf.

Sources also claimed that if deal is sealed, the Chinese have promised US$5b investment package once they are awarded the bid to exploit the Wologisi Mountain.

The US$5b investment package is said to include a road infrastructure, a new airport and a newer 250 Megawatt Hydro in Liberia.

Granted another Chinese company wins a bid, this time for Mt. Wologisi, two Chinese companies will be noted for exploiting mountains in Liberia under the Unity Party-led government.

Currently, it is recalled that China Union is operating in Bong Mines, Lower Bong County, but its operations have often been threatened by intermittent go-slows due to alleged bad labor practices.

Meanwhile, the presence of the Chinese delegation in Monrovia suggests a return leg of negotiation on the deal as the delegation has reportedly been expected based on invitation from GOL’s chief negotiators.

This latest development regarding the Wologisi chase has created an uncertainty as to what happens to Jindal, an Indian giant steel company which President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf once led a huge Liberian Government   delegation and toured its facilities in India thus giving the company the impression to negotiate and to take over the exploitation of one of Liberia’s endowed mineral resources sites.

The deal  involving  the Chinese and top Liberian Government officials  is  being revealed  at the time 2017 presidential and legislative elections are less than three years away  to transition from one civil administration to another.