Tension in Rivercess County Over Abandoned Earthmover
Yarkpa Town, River Cess County – The waiver of an earthmover to a Chinese contractor working on a farm-to-market road in the township Yarkpa Town in River Cess is locking the heads of current and former local officials, with tension brewing in the south-central county.
A former lawmaker, Victor Wilson; a former County Inspector General, Trokon Brown; and a youth, Stephen Menyon, signed an affidavit of waiver to Chen Liberia Enterprise that is paving the 43.5-kilometer road that extends to Garpu Town.
The affidavit of waiver was issued by Magistrate Benjones Weagbar, Stipendiary Magistrate of the 14th Judicial Circuit Court in Cestos City on March 10, 2018.
The earthmover was transferred to Congo Town in at the headquarters of the Chinese contractor on Saturday, March 24, 218, witnessed by this reporter.
However, three days after citizens, including current officials of the county, began expressing concern about its transfer.
The court has since annulled the waiver and has ordered the Chinese firm to return the controversial earthmover.
Newly appointed Superintendent Bismark Karbiah accused the signatories of the affidavit of waiver of collecting money from the Chinese contractor, an accusation former Representative Wilson denies.
“No! No money changed hands,” Wilson said in an exclusive interview on over the weekend.
“We did not take that machine to be important because this machine is a frame. It is not a machine that people can get up to use.”
Both former County Inspector Brown and Menyon could not be contacted up to press time.
Superintendent Karbiah told local radio station Echo that he had contacted the River Cess legislative caucus and the machine would be returned to county “in the shortest possible time.
“Why will you just take a yellow machine and sell it to a businessman without the proper authority knowing about?” Karbiah asked rhetorically.
“It is not approved by the River Cess people.”
“The community should have a say in it as to where it should go.” He said a full probe into the matter would be launched once the earthmover was returned.
Magistrate Weagbar told FrontPageAfrica in a mobile phone chat that his court had already revoked the waiver of the earthmover.
Efforts to contact the manager of the Chinese contractor, Henry Washington proved futile.
‘Trash’ and ‘Charade’
The controversial earthmover was brought to River Cess by a construction company called Crossroads in 2008 to pave the road from Yarkpa Town to a community called One House.
That was River Cess first project after the County Development Fund was introduced.
Unfortunately, the company abandoned the project halfway on, leaving back the earthmover, which has been a constant feature of that part of the county.
The same route is now being paved by the Ministry of Agriculture’s Smallholder Agriculture Productivity Enhancement and Commercialization (SAPEC) project, a US$1.7 million project that started in November 2017, with funds from the African Development Bank.
Former Representative Wilson and co said in the affidavit of waiver seen by FrontPage Africa that the earthmover was in the way of the pavement, and that the “trash” had been on the route for at least 25 years.
“We the affiants therefore request that you (Chinese contractor) are at will to take away of said frame…and dispose of it anywhere, if you need it you may,” it added.
But Karbiah said the waiver was “dubious”.
“The document says ‘waiver’; it is a charade,” charged Karbiah. “That identical machine, people took money for it. I may not know the specific figure but it was sold. As a cover-up they tried to get that document to blind the eye of the River Cess people, business-as-usual in River Cess County.”
“They have no right to come and commit another community property to somebody without the input of the very community that has been manning this thing for the last 10 years,” buttressed former Development Superintendent Sampson Cephas during whose administration the road project was first initiated.
He recalled how the same earthmover nearly landed a former Nyorwein District Commissioner Thomas Gbaryou in jail.
“Let it come back there, that’s the only thing we want,” Cephas said. “They are not the people who supposed to come and invade another community to take property from there.”
As River Cess waits anxiously for the earthmover’s return, Wilson and Magistrate Weagbar are remorseful.
“If at all I had known that this kind of thing would have happened, I wouldn’t do it,” conceded Wilson, who had two bids to return to the Legislature denied in 2011 and 2014. “From the interest that this [Chinese guy] has expressed, then definitely it is important.”
Magistrate Weagbar is, however, furious and claims that he was misled by Wilson and co. His court was convinced by the status of the three men, especially the former County Inspector, who was acting while Karbiah sought confirmation from the Senate.
“Of course,” said Magistrate Weagbar when asked whether he regretted his decision to issue the waiver. “I never knew that they misled me,” he lamented. “That is why I mandated them to bring back the machine to the same place the man got it from.”
James Harding Giahyue, FPA Contributor