Senator Under Probe in Bong County Technical College Corruption Saga

Senator Under Probe in Bong County Technical College Corruption Saga

Monrovia - The Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) has forwarded the names of three individuals to face prosecution in line with their alleged role in a questionable contractual agreement signed between the County Administration of Bong and the Liberia China United Investment Group.

FrontPageAfrica has gathered that the LACC is still monitoring mainly the addendum to the contract which increased the figure from US$4 million to US$7 million despite slow progress on the construction work of the Bong County Technical College (BCTC).

A recent audit report conducted by the Internal Audit Agency (IAA) reported shortcomings in the awarding of the contract for the construction of the BCTC to a Chinese company.

It was uncovered that three sitting lawmakers from the 52nd Legislature had shares in the company which was awarded broke. Lawmakers Bhofal Chambers, Alex Tyler and former lawmaker Kettemuehn Murray were found to have owned shares in the company to construct the BCTC.

The LACC has investigated and forward the names of Mr. Murray and lawmakers Tyler and Chambers to the Ministry of Justice for prosecution but the names of those who signed the addendum was omitted from the LACC prosecution list, raising eyebrows in Bong County and one source has hinted that the Commission is still probing the addendum to the contract.

The contract for the construction of the college was signed on October 13, 2010 for a twin-storey academic and administrative building of Dolokelen Gboveh Community College.

Who signed Addendum?

With the contractor yet to perform some of the required work on the building and the county administration also defaulting on payment terms, a massive addendum to the contract was negotiated and signed on October 13, 2015; about five years after the signing of the initial contract.

The addendum to the contract increased the contract amount to a whopping US$7m, adding an additional US$3,210,150 to the initial contract amount.

A copy of the addendum to the contract in the possession of FrontPageAfrica indicated that Senator Henry Yallah, as Chairman of the Bong County Legislative Caucus at the time, negotiated and signed the contract despite little progress on the implementation of the terms of the previous contract.

Other signatories to the addendum contract included –Thomas K. Cisco, Project Management Team, Selena Polson Mappy, County Superintendent and Lian Zhi, General Manager of the construction company.

The addendum contract was also attested by William Gyude Moore, Minister of Public Works.

The justification for negotiating and signing an addendum to the contract is yet to be explained by those who signed the addendum while work is currently at a standstill. 

The quest for affordable and quality education is a major problem in Liberia.

The country’s main tertiary institution, the University of Liberia, is overcrowded and private universities are considered expensive for average Liberians.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s administration has heralded the decentralization of tertiary education but these efforts are being stalled by acts of corruption during the awarding of construction contracts.

Will LACC dig deeper?

Although the LACC has already submitted the names of the three individuals to the Justice Ministry of Prosecution, many believe those who signed the addendum contract should be probed further.

The extra US$3 million addendum to a construction contract is seen as huge doubt and a major source of siphoning public resources, considering that the project is being stalled.

Since the IAA internal report was released, Senator Yallah who signed the questionable addendum contract name is yet to surface in the entire saga, raising questions as to why such a key figure is being omitted from the entire discussions regarding the BCTC project.

Senator Yallah served as Chairman of the Bong County Legislative Caucus from 2015 to early 2017 and during his tenure bulk of the money to the Chinese contractor was paid but the BCTC is yet to be completed.

One source has hinted that the LACC is still looking into specifically the addendum contract and might likely forward more names to the Ministry of Justice for prosecution.