Liberia’s New Leaders Spend Over US$300K on Refurbishing Office, Home
Monrovia – A FrontPageAfrica investigation has uncovered that the cost of refurbishing President George Weah’s office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and that of his wife is US$39,500.
Report by Lennart Dodoo, [email protected]
Documents in the possession of this paper also show that US$286,450 has been cashed out by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning to the Ministry of State for the replacement of iron rails at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and the refurbishment of the home of Vice President Taylor.
GSA through the Ministry of State from the Finance Ministry requested the amounts, but sources within MFA hinted FrontPageAfrica that the GSA request was upon the instruction of President Weah when he was still President-elect.
In the communication former Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Sylvester Grisby wrote:
Reference is made to our letter Ref: MOS-RL/SMG-COS/0088/2018 dated January 16, 2018 submitting a request from the General Service Agency for payment in the amount of US$39,500 (Thirty Nine Thousand Five Hundred) to Building Materials Center (BMC) to supply assorted building and furniture materials to refurbish the offices of the President and the First Lady.
The GSA has submitted additional payment request for the BMC in the amount of US$268,450 (Two Hundred Sixty Eight Thousand Four Hundred Fifty United States Dollars) for the cost of materials for urgent work on the following:
Replacement of iron rail and other repair work on the MFA building. Refurbishing and total renovation of the residence of the Vice President elect.
We trust that you’ll treat these requests with upmost urgency considering that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs building will serve as the offices of the incoming President and First Lady for the seeable future and should be ready for occupancy by Inaugural Day.
Similarly the Vice President Elect is expected to move into her residence on Inauguration Day. Please find attached letter from GSA.
Sylvester M. Grigsby
The Executive Mansion, the official seat of the Liberian presidency, has been lying dormant since a 2006 fire incident.
The renovation of the building is yet to be completed since the incident.
The past regime often came under public condemnation for failing to get the Executive Mansion ready for use by former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and many wondered where the office of the new President would be.
Getting the eight-story mansion which was constructed by President William V.S. Tubman, Sr. in 1964 with assistance from the government of Israel has also been spinning in hullabaloo for about a decade.
An audit by the General Auditing Commission reported that Milton and Richards Architectural/Engineering Consultancy Firm, Agent of the Ministry of State failed to ensure that the Chinese firm, QNQC Qingjian International execute the contract based on the terms and conditions which subsequently led to the contractor’s substandard performance, thus resulting in a wasteful expenditure of US$10,443,959.61 by the Government of Liberia.
The report held the Managements of the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs and Milton and Richards Architectural/Engineering Consultancy Firm jointly and severally accountable for the payment.
The Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs and VAXS Inc. entered into a contract on March 13, 2013 for an amount totaling US$643,995.00 for a security surveillance system specifically designed for the entire Executive Mansion Building, its perimeter and grounds including gates.
Financial and construction issues were evident when an angry President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf visited the site in May 2014 to assess the work.
While there, the President expressed strong dissatisfaction over the pace and quality of the renovation.
The President at the time condemned the work by the Chinese contractors forcing the government to bring in new contractors to take on the task.
The renovation saga has been complicated by political turmoil and uncertainty with many questioning why the President has been working out of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and not the official seat of the presidency.
The Executive Mansion building comprises eight floors, including a basement and a mezzanine floor and imposes a magnificent aura on its surrounding environs.
During a tour by FrontPageAfrica, engineers said much of the work over the past few months have been focused on demolition of unwanted portions and clearing up the many flaws of the previous contractors.
It was constructed over a three – year period, from 1960 to 1963. The entire project was designed and supervised by Stanley Engineering Company of Africa; and the Construction Contractor was Liberian Construction Corporation (LCC).
The project was officially dedicated on January 3, 1964, the seat of the Executive branch of the Government of the Republic of Liberia.
The building was designed and is being used for four basic functions; the official residence of the President of Liberia, Offices of the President and Staff of the Ministry of State, reception and living accommodations for guest/dignitaries and maintenance/technical sections.
Since the completion of construction works on the Executive Mansion in 1963, there had been two major rehabilitation works executed on the building.
The first renovation/rehabilitation of works was executed during the 1988 /89 under the reign of the late President Samuel K. Doe while the second renovation work was executed during the tenure of former President Charles Taylor in 1997-1998.
Due to the 2006 fire, the government of Liberia initiated the third renovation on the Executive Mansion.
The government has awarded seven contracts for the renovation of the Executive Mansion amounting to US$31,705,072 during the audit periods.
The government has paid US$15,769,800.21 to the contractors per the documents provided by the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs and Ministry of Finance and Development Planning.