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Pollution Saga Mirrors CASPIAN -Garbage Site Relocation Demanded

By: Josiah Kpadeh /Freelance Journalist

 

Some residents of the Stockton Creek Community in Gardnesville have accused the Caspian Holdings Company of creating health hazards for them.

The aggrieved residents told this writer recently that the Management of the Monrovia City Cooperation Waste Transfer Station-Caspian Holdings must be engaged by the Government of Liberia if continuous illnesses in the area must be avoided.

They called for the removal of the waste transfer site, on grounds that it has polluted the environment- thus producing filthy water that pours flies and mosquitos, including other insects into their homes.

The Stockton Creek Community is lowland established in the early 80s; currently it has thousands of inhabitants – largely women and children.

There, flooding is being experienced hugely during mid-rainy season and at times it runs into homes, causing intense embarrassments for dwellers.

In this open area, the MCC has a Solid Waste Disposal Site just on the shoulder of the community along the Somalia Drive. It hosts a share of the famous Stockton Creek Bridge, few meters to the Jamaica Road on the Bushrod Island.

This disposal site is used as a transit point— garbage collected from other communities are dumped there and later transferred to other destinations for final disposal.

George Menscole, Mohamed Kamaraand and Stephen Tolbert are residents of the area.  They  said prior to the construction of the MCC Solid Waste Disposal Transfer Station, health condition in their area was fair regardless of the presence of the Stockton Creak.

“The continuous sicknesses we experience here are because of the dirt factory, often our children get sick from the dirty water that runs from the garbage. In this place, we experience the black flies, the green flies and the normal flies. The area was not like this. We are appealing to the government to remove the dirt factory from our area.” Mr. Tolbert spoke angrily in a separate statement.

He also stressed his disappointment about information that Caspian Holdings had regularly treated the garbage with insecticide.

Caspian Holdings is a hired company by the Emergency Monrovia Urban Sanitation (EMUS) Project. The EMUS project is a World Bank initiative aimed at increasing access to solid waste collection service in Monrovia as well as enhancing the Monrovia City Corporation’s (MCC’s) revenues from waste fees and other sources.

Mr. Tolbert further alleged that community representatives have on occasions approached the Monrovia City Corporation on the matter but the engagement did not yield fruit, something the MCC had since denied.

Hawa Konneh and Annie Kollie are mothers of four children and live next to the fence that hosts the Waste. At their front view is a sleeping body of spilled water that runs from the dumps.

They also denied reports that Caspian Holdings chemically treats the garbage. According to them, their assertion was due to what they called the increased pollution and insects being experienced daily.

The women claimed that the condition has caused them much expensive as they take their kids to the clinic at least three times a month.

“This dirty water also gets worms inside, so we are forced to travel along with table salt so that we can rub it on our feet when we leave the water. We have to do this because the water can cover the road and that’s the only place we can use to come to our house,” Kollie said regrettably.

The residents preferred the garbage site be transferred to a distance location where people do not reside.

Aliue Konneh is the Chief Administrator of  Alilal Medical and Surgical Center on the Jamaica Road, close to the affected area. At this Muslim Clinic, he receives 20-25 patients daily mostly women and children.

According to him, a week- long survey recently conducted by his clinic suggests that out of 179 cases, malaria accounts for 92, while 35 cases were typhoid- related and the others were urinary track- infection (UTI) and respiratory track- infection (RTI) which account for 52.

Mr. Konneh however could not confirm or deny that these sicknesses have resulted from the MCC garbage transfer station being managed by Caspian Holdings Company.

He was also concerned about the increased number of illnesses from this community. He admitted the condition, that residents there are unable to adequately finance their treatments but called on government to provide subsidies for his clinic.

“This is necessary because we as professionals do not need to wait for money before turning to our patients,” Allieu exerted.

Meanwhile, research has indicated that disposing of waste has huge environmental impacts and can cause serious problems to humans especially in areas where they are vulnerable.

Accordingly, some waste will eventually decay, but not all, and in the process it may smell or generate methane gas, which is explosive and contributes to the greenhouse effect. Leachate produced as waste decomposes may cause pollution. Badly-managed landfill sites may attract pestsor that causes disorder.

When contacted, the MCC referred this reporter to the Emergency Monrovia Urban Sanitation (EMUS) Project for clarity. The EMUS project as well said it could not comment on the subject but preferred the reporter to Caspian Holdings, on grounds that it was Caspian that is implementing the project at the Stockton Creek Garbage Site.

The objectives of the EMUS Project for Liberia is to increase access to solid waste collection service in Monrovia and as well  enhance Monrovia City Corporation’s (MCC’s) revenues from waste fees and other sources.

At the same time, when visited on August 22, 2016, the Management of the Caspian Holdings Company said it could not orally response to the matter with fear of being misquoted by the press, instead, it promised to reply via email within four days, but failed to do so.

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FOJ Hosts Seminar For Urban Women ..Prepares for 2017 Elections Showdown

By: Yassah J. Wright/0880645821

 

Scores of urban women gathered at a one day leadership training seminar organized by the National Women Congress of the friends of Dr. J. Mill Jones (FOJ) in collaboration with the Montserrado county chapter at the sport commission on Friday, September, 9, 2016, under the theme: “The role of women in the impending 2017 general elections.

The seminar brought together over 250 urban women leaders trained in various life skills and also ways of propagating the vision and aspirations of Dr. Jones to the effect that it resonates with consciences of the masses of the Liberian people.

Speaking at the occasion, the National Youth Chairman of FOJ, Evans R. Bryant, said for several decades, Liberians have lived in abject poverty, experienced bad governance, political exclusion and foreign domination of their national economy and resources to redeem them from the odds that has become an ultimate importance.

“The economy empowerment of Liberians is an idea whose time has come; women are very important and they need to rise up and play major roles in traversing the crushing layers of Liberia’s democratic system during the era of economic deprivation, nepotism, exclusion and corruption, which appears to be growing space and no longer confirmed to their borders,” said the FOJ Youth Chairman.

He disclosed that group of Liberians from diversified sectors of the society came together to form the “friends of Dr. Jones” as a political sorority that will serve as the vehicle to champion the needs and aspirations of Liberians.

Bryant cautioned youth: “ Do not use your today to eat your tomorrow; being useful during electioneering period. The 2017 general and presidential should be an issue based, people should vote beyond party lines; beyond tribal lines and beyond religious lines and fraternity.

The FOJ Youth leader reckoned that the time has come for Liberians to choose a potential national leader on the basis of proven leadership abilities embedded with the requisite experience, high moral rectitude, character credential, academic astuteness and propinquity with the masses of the Liberian people.

Bryant said friends of Dr. Jones strappingly believed that their political leader has the proven ability and excellent brainpower to revive the nation from the existing state of backwardness, the shackles of underdevelopment and massive corruption.

He continued: “Dr. Jones vowed during his response to petitions from across the 73 districts of Liberia that he is prepared to take difficult decisions necessary to put the country on the path of transformation, the idea of collective responsibility that will make Liberia more prosperous and also reconcile the country.

He said women should pursue fundamental principles and objectives as they endeavor a break with the past and increase awareness and sensitize citizens about the enviable leadership credentials of Dr. Jones and his vision for Liberia.

In addition, the National Vice Chair for Administration of the women congress of FOJ, Sarah Y. Cummings said the one day leadership workshop is squarely intended to build the capacity of the women to reach out, mobilize, concentrate, rationalize, coordinate and consolidate the ongoing activities across the 73 districts clearly propagate the party’s vision to local communities.

Cummings said, the national women congress of the FOJ is a main-stream political action group nationally agreed upon and geared towards uniting Liberians to hold together under the canopy of fraternal solidarity to overwhelmingly elect Dr. Jones in 2017as president of the Republic of Liberia, stressing the need to engage all sectors of Liberia and sensitize electorates about the increasing imperativeness to achieve their overall ambition.

 

Floodgate At NEC?

 

The Executive Director of the National Elections Commission (NEC), Lamin Lighe, at the expenditure hearing of the budget on Wednesday, disclosed that funds collected for political parties and candidates’ registrations sit in an escrow account at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning as the commission seeks additional funding.

Asked by Representative Julius Berrian as to what NEC does with funds collected from political parties and candidates’ registration, Executive Director Lighe informed the Joint Committee on Ways, Means, Finance and Budget and the Public Account Committee (PAC) that the account is being controlled by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning

But responding to the question, Deputy Minister for Revenue, Dr. James Kollie, noted that the funds from the escrow account are sometimes sent to consolidated account or sometimes released to the NEC for pressing pertinent matters.

However, the NEC or MFDP could not further elaborate as to how much is in the escrow account or how many dollars have been withdrawn from that account thus prompting pundits and some lawmakers to describe the situation as “fishy.”

Executive Director Lighe said the NEC needs 45.6million for the upcoming 2017 Elections and the Government of Liberia is expected to provide US23million dollars while there are commitments of US7.1million.

He also indicated within  2016-17, the commission needs about 2.9million for voter and civic education. The NEC Executive Director further said the NEC can no longer afford to postpone the process, because doing so would hamper the entire process because election is timing.

Lighe is therefore calling on the Committee to speedily pass the budget and also ensure to increase the commission’s funding so as to enable them smoothly execute the election process.

In 2005, the NEC submitted an annual budget to the Budget Bureau for consideration and approval. Upon approval of the budget, funds were paid in a timely manner, according to the planned expenditure, into an account established by the NEC. International donor support was critical in both the 2005 and 2011 national elections. While the NEC has not published its 2011 elections report, the estimated 2010–11 budget was over USD 38 million, of which over US 27 million dollars (70 per cent) came from international donors.

During the 2010–11 electoral cycles, funds from gender mainstreaming projects were intermittently redirected to processes regarded as more critical to the success of the national elections, such as voter registration, poll worker training and technology acquisitions.

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Gov’t Commits To Mechanize Financing … For Agriculture Sector

By: Teacee Gbeway

 

Vice President Joseph Boakai has disclosed government’s commitment to ensure that the country’s agriculture sector is designed to provide innovative financing mechanism.

The Liberian Vice President made the disclosure Tuesday, when he served as Keynote Speaker at the opening of a two-day the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Food Enterprise Development (FED) Agric-business Expo held at the Monrovia City Hall.

He said the government’s intervention will include small and medium size enterprise (SMEs), agricultural financing mechanism such as incentive-based risk-sharing facilities for agricultural lending and social bond.

The program, according to the Unity Party (UP) Standard Bearer also disclosed that the innovative financing will also cover catalytic financing facilities, agriculture-relevant e-wallet, and digital financing mechanisms.

Vice President Boakai committed that the government is working closely with the African Development Bank (AFDB) and the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) to design and set up the ” Liberia Incentive Based Risk Sharing Agriculture Lending” (LIRSAL) based on going best practices in Nigeria and other African countries with support from AFDB and AGRA.

He said reducing post harvest losses, strengthening value addition, establishing structured markets and marketing systems can all contribute to sustainable food security.

The Keynote speaker emphasized that the estimated rate of post harvest losses in Liberia is approximately 35 to 40 percent, stressing that the losses are caused by improper processing, poor storage practices and transport constraints, which is one way to attain food security and reduce the rate of post harvest.

He lamented that the government is encouraging stronger framework for collaboration and agreed scorecard for mutual accountability to judge the results of the implementation of huge investments in various programs and projects both by government and development partners and NGOs.

Vice President further emphasized that both the government and development partners should be held accountable for huge sums of funds spent in the agriculture sector, as well as other sectors, for economic growth and transformation for shared prosperity and improved livelihoods of citizens.

“We are impressed that this is taking place with some of the best minds that understand the Liberia agriculture sector. I am confident that the topic will be probed with the rigor and intelligence that it demands” he noted.

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Man Commits Suicide …Eyewitness Alleged “Unbearable” Economic Situation

By: Mafanta Kromah

 

A man only identified as Boakai has reportedly committed suicide on Warren Street due to the difficulties experienced during  past months and that his shattered life has become unbearable, said eyewitness on the crime scene.

The late Boakai, according to eyewitnesses, the deceased was a car loader on Broad Street until his death.

A close associate of Boakai, only identified as Joe, who is also a car loader was quoted as saying that “He and I had breakfast this morning and he told me that he’s tired with life and cannot continue anymore.”

He revealed that murmurs from the late Boakai during the last two months hinted that his father haven’t send him anything since then, but said he persuaded the deceased not to worry because they can bear whatever difficulties they faced.

Also speaking about the deceased, another colleague, John Paye, revealed that the late Boakai and other friends were  close associates and they bought “cigarette and grass” to smoke.

He divulged that the late Boakai committed suicide out of frustration and also attributed his demise to protracted chest problem he suffered, eulogizing that his deceased colleague was courteous to people in the area and had lived in his “shanty hole” for more than six years and that his action was allegedly due to the obstruction in his life.

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Calm Returns To Cocopa

By: Gborontaye Gboron

 

Calm has returned to the Cocopa Rubber Plantations in Gbannah Clan, Nimba County following demonstration by workers at the plantations in demand of salaries owned them by the plantation’s management.

On Monday September 12, 2016, workers of the COCOPA plantation blocked the main highway between Nimba County and the southeastern region.

Speaking on behalf of the Workers’ Union, the Vice President Alphanso Luogon called on the management to settle the arrears of the balance 679 workers to enable them register their children to school.

He said the management paid 425 workers and resettled their families in other parts, while the remaining 679 are unpaid.

The Vice president issued a three-day ultimatum to settle the arrears to avoid further demonstration that will impede the normal flow of traffic.

Since early 2016, tension has continued to mount between the management and the workers union over the delay in receiving salaries and other incentives.

The workers Union President Sarpah Mahn alleged the management owned over 625 workers resettlement packages as per the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between workers and the management.

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House To Reprimand Rep. Kollie

By Abraham Morris-231886294820-abrahammorrisabrahammorris@gmail.com

 

The Plenary of the House of Representatives, through a motion filed by Representative Moses Acarous Gray, has agreed to reprimand the Chairman of the House Standing Committee on Ways Means, Finance, Budget and Development Planning, Representative Moses Kollie, for his failure to present the House’ quarterly financial report.

The decision by the Plenary of the House of Representatives was triggered by a communication to that body from Representative Worlea Saywah Dunah, outlining several violations   of their rules.

According to communication, the persistent violations by the Chairman of the Ways Means, Finance, Budget and Development Planning to provide quarterly financial report to that body, contravenes Rule 57.4 (b&h) of their standing rules.

Rule 57.4 b states that “All matter relating to the finances of the House, preparation of the House’s budget and custody and disbursement of the House’s funds subject to the approval of the Speaker or Deputy Speaker; must present to the House written financial report every three months.”

“Honorable Presiding and Distinguish Colleagues, consistent with Rule 57.4 (h) it is mandatory that the Chairman of the Ways Means, Finance, Budget and Development Planning provide written financial report quarterly; unfortunately for the fiscal year 2015-16, that Committee failed to produce a single report as per its mandate. This action has incapacitated us, their peers from what the status of the finances is for the entire year,” the communication stated.

Accordingly, the communication further noted that the committee’s failure to provide copies of the budget raises accountability issues as it appears to be a deliberate action by the Committee leadership to keep the Plenary in the dark of their finances.

Therefore, Dunah’s communication indicated that Plenary should note in addition that the same Committee Leadership’s failure to process the national budget within statutory time, compelled them to extend session and also setup a technical committee under Plenary to expedite the Liberian people’s business, it (Ways Means, Finance, Budget and Development Planning Committee) has exhibited total disregard for the principles of accountability and transparency as per their rules.

In view of the foregoing, Dunah in his communication recommended that Plenary sets up a select committee to work with the Finance Department to prepare and present to members consistent with Rule 57.4 (h) the four quarterly reports for fiscal year 2015-16 along with all attachment.

He also recommended that Plenary further directs the preparation of their budget review and passage along with the national budget. And that Plenary reprimand the leadership of the Committee on Ways Means, Finance, Budget and Development Planning for these very grave failures to perform its statutory duties, a decision that was overwhelmingly endorsed by that body.

Deliberating on the issue, Bong County Representative, Lester Paye, called on his colleagues to ensure the Committee provides the report rather than calling for the leadership of the Committee to be reprimanded.

But Nimba County Representative Prince Tokpa urged the Presiding to take seize of the matter for decision so as to carry on the Liberian people’s mandate and foster unity in that body.

Commenting on the mater, Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue, noted that the Technical Committee was only set up to fast-track the delayed budget, but since Representative Kollie has dragged the Plenary to Court, the communication has to be deliberated fully.

Also speaking, the Chairman on Ways Means, Finance, Budget and Development Planning, Representative Kollie welcomed the request by his colleague and further reminded Plenary that he has always and consistently presented these reports in Executive Session.

He, however, promised to provide the report as request by his colleagues.

Meanwhile, Representative Kollie is calling on the Plenary of the House of Representatives to institute an audit of the legislature in the next two weeks so as to inform the Liberian people of their dealings.

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Post- presidency: Ellen’s Wish (Part III)

“President Sirleaf knows what she wants. Over the years, there have been constant allegations that she has influence at the Capitol Building. The very Tyler that is crying foul today knows what they’ve done when he was favored.”

After 12 years of rule, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is expected to live a private life; she will be the second former living President of Liberia whose liberty will be intact, unlike former President Charles G. Taylor.

Taylor, though a former living Liberian President, is serving a 50-yr jail sentence in Great Britain following his conviction by a Special Court in The Hague, Netherlands, for crimes he reportedly committed in neighboring Sierra Leone during its brutal civil war.

In Liberia’s pre elections’ year, the struggle to identify the successor of President Sirleaf is intensifying and the ruling Unity Party has already identified Vice President Joseph N. Boakai to succeed  Madam Sirleaf in 2017.

The tiny West African country is experiencing about 23 registered political parties to contest the presidential and legislative elections, which President Sirleaf as incumbent will remain pretty seated to watch while VP Boakai wrestles with opposition contenders.

However, with almost one year to the impending elections, a major power interplay has painstakingly been witnessed for months in the country with accusing fingers pointed at Madam  Sirleaf from critics’ circle; especially as leadership tussle erupted at the House of Representatives on Capitol Hill.

The finger-pointing at the President stemmed from a Global Witness report of corruption linking former and present officials of the UP-led government; dated since 2010, of which US$950,000 reportedly exchanged hands as bribe for concession deal to alter already legislated law under the Public Procurement and Concession Commission(PPCC) Act.

The Executive under the superb mandate of President Sirleaf swiftly constituted a probe committee headed by Cllr. Fonati Koffa (Minister of State without Portfolio) to investigate those implicated in the GW report, a move embraced by certain segment of the society while opposing segment criticized it, claiming that the attempt was a witch hunt.

Recused House Speaker Alex Tyler, Grand Cape Mount County Senator Varney Sherman, former NIC Chairman Dr. Richard Tolbert, former Lofa Senator Sumo Kupee, Bomi Senator Morris Saytumah, NSA Director Fumba  Sirleaf, and others were captured in the GW report. Among the accused, Tyler and Sherman became the center of attraction when they resisted appearing before the Koffa-led probe committee, insisting that only a court they would appeal before, something that came to past and the accused were indicated and are undergoing court proceeding for economic sabotage, criminal facilitations, among other multiple charges.

The scenario later developed another scene at the Lower House when a group of lawmakers anti to Tyler called on him to recuse himself from presiding at Plenary until he is cleared of the charges levied against him at Criminal Court “C”  at the Temple of Justice.

As the recusal demand persisted, Tyler openly accused President Sirleaf of being the mastermind of his removal scheme, but the Executive Mansion debunked the accusation.

“ President Sirleaf knows what she wants. Over the years, there have been constant allegations that she has influence at the Capitol Building. The very Tyler that is crying foul today knows what they’ve done when he was favored,” a former lawmaker who preferred anonymity told In Profile Daily recently when Tyler finally recused himself from presiding at the Lower House.

In the wake of public focus at the National Legislature especially with the delay experienced over the passage of the current fiscal budget due to leadership crisis at the House of Representatives, the former lawmaker surmised that President Sirleaf appears to have the influence even while living a private life to have a stake in the state of affairs, particularly so if another UP-led government is elected in 2017, an observation other Liberians think is unlikely to happen; writes Lewis K. Glay 0886469835/lglay.inprofile@gmail.com

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