Liberian Police Officers Complain of Lack of Food, Stipend Despite Working 24/7
Monrovia – Sitting by the Police tent erected during the start of the elections in October, Police Support Unit (PSU) officer Mark Nimley, (not his real name), wearied by the scotching sun, uttered his disappointment.
Report by Lennart Dodoo, [email protected]
“They promised us US$5 a day but that money is not coming. They’re supposed to bring us food, but whenever the vehicle breaks down, the food doesn’t come. For us PSU officers, we have no break. We work 24/7”
“How can they be so wicked to treat us like this?
Is it because we offered to serve our country?
Why don’t they feel for us?
We, too, are humans,” he ranted apparently at his superior officers.
PSU and officers of other units of the Liberia National Police (LNP) were deployed at major street intersections and public buildings since the commencement of the election activities in July.
Some officers were also assigned to depots to augment the presence of officers at those depots around the country, including some hard-to-reach areas.
A Police source hinted to this paper that the LNP authorities were obliged to deploy PSU officers at the various depots due to shortage of manpower after the deployment of officers to the various counties for the elections.
The men and women of the LNP were very hopeful that with their deployment they would have earned some extra money (per diem) for their extra duties, but the case has rather been frustrating for most of them.
Some who spoke with this paper on the basis of anonymity said they were promised US$5 per day but they are yet to receive that money for a couple of weeks now.
“They promised to give us US$5 a day but that money is not coming.”
“They’re supposed to bring us food, but whenever the vehicle breaks down, the food doesn’t come. For us PSU officers, we have no break; we work 24/7,” one PSU officer told this paper.
This female officer recalled a last week incident where one PSU officer fell unconscious at the ELWA intersection while on duty.
“He was not sick, he was hungry – that is what happened to him – Hunger. There was no water.
Sometimes we come here not having a cent in our pockets, or the little money we bring along we use it to buy water.
It is not easy standing under the scorching sun with this helmet on our heads and wearing all these vests.
We drink a lot of water because of the sun and the heat. If only our bosses can supply us water, at least water, it would help us a whole lot.”
Another officer told this paper when she inquired about the daily per diem, she was told it was signed for by one of her bosses for distribution.
She, however, wondered who it was and why she hasn’t received her money yet.
But Deputy Police Commissioner for Public Affairs, Col. Sam Collins, said the LNP is baffled by series of complaints of officers not receiving their stipends.
He told this paper that officers, who are yet to receive their stipend, must submit their names to the Human Resource Department of the LNP.
“As far as we are concerned, LNP officers, who are part of the election security task force, have been paid.”
“So if any of them who are part of the task force claims they have not been paid yet must submit their names so that we can counter check with the banks,” he said.
Col. Collins clarified that not all officers of the LNP are on the elections task force.
He explained that officers assigned in hard-to-reach counties like Grand Gedeh, Grand Kru and Maryland Counties are paid more compared to those assigned in Montserrado County and its nearby counties.
He also dismissed allegations of the officers not being fed, noting that they are fed once a day every working day.
According to Collins, though it is true that the officers work 24 hours, they work also get a day off after every 24 hours of work.
In a recent interview with FrontPageAfrica, the Inspector General of Police, Col. Gregory Coleman, said the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) gave them US$1.14 million, donated by Japan and they received another US$200,000 donated by Germany for electioneering security.
“I personally asked the UNDP to hold the money and pay the officers directly.”
“All the requests for payments have been going to UNDP. I work with the executive committee to know whether they have all of the officers included and personnel section clarified the validity of the officers.
“As it relates to the UNDP funding, we were given US$1.14 million from Japan and US$200,000 from Germany, I personally asked the UNDP to hold the money and pay the officers directly. The entire requests for payments have been going to UNDP.”
Coleman continued: “If you go to the UNDP offices and look at the listing you would not see my name and you will not also be told that I am collecting money from them. I’m being paid for this job.”
He clarified that cash payment is through the officers’ accounts with any local bank; adding that the slowness of the payment was due to the banks wanting proper verification.
“Nobody’s money is going through anyone’s hands. Let the public be the judges. But you will always have counter accusation and I take it as an accusation, but, that will not distract us,” he said.
But the officers who spoke to this paper said monies being paid through the banks are their pay for the election service, but their stipends, which are not forthcoming, are supposed to be paid in cash to them.
“The money they have said they are paying to the bank is different; that is not what we are talking about, we don’t have any problem with that one, but the daily stipends are what they are not giving to us. Initially they were paying us straight in cash, but all of a sudden we stopped receiving it and it is not being added to the one they’re paying to the bank.”