Liberia: Police Arrest Three, Chase Other Housing Authority Staff for Protesting 11 Months Salaries Delay
Monrovia – Officers of the Liberia National Police were seen on Tuesday, October 27 disbursing a crowd of disenchanted employees of the National Housing Authority, who had gathered in front the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to protest.
Report by Willie N. Tokpah, [email protected]
The police arrested three of the peaceful protesters, who were seen holding placard. The aggrieved NHA workers later told a FrontPageAfrica reporter that they were protesting because they had not received their salary arrears for 11 months.
The three persons arrested, according to their spokesman, were taken into police custody. The protesters then relocated to the Ministry of Education on Third Street, Sinkor and continued their protest.
The NHA aggrieved staffs held placards bearing inscriptions like “Our Children need to go to school. We need to take care of our families. We have waited for too long.”
Dixon N. Nebo, Spokesperson of the disenchanted NHA staff, told FrontPageAfrica that their concerns have been ignored on several occassions by the authority.
“Today is a sad day in Liberia and the National Housing Authority workers are still in the street because we have tried all efforts, used all the diplomatic means and our plights have not been adhered to and the best thing is to draw government attention,” Nebo said.
“Our kids are not in school. We went to various school administrators and talked with them and they agreed based on respect they have for us, but we are now frustrated. We informed Cecelia Coffey Brown when she took over and she assured us of getting our pay but when she came from China few days, she informed us that she has tried her best and there was no means to get her way out, so we are tire.”– Dixon N. Nebo, spokesperson of the disenchanted NHA staff
“We wrote the Chair of the Board of Directors; we wrote Minister McGill, we wrote Finda and several other CDC Lawmakers because most of those forming part of the protest are members of the CDC and we have reached to a point of public disgrace in our communities.”
He said NHA Boss Cecelia Coffey Brown held talks with them at the beginning of October and promised to pay them but her promise has not been fulfilled.
As a result, Nebo said aggrieved workers peacefully assembled at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs early Tuesday morning to draw President Weah’s attention.
He was worried that their assembly was greeted with negative reaction from the Police, who chased and arrested three of their colleagues.
“We assembled here to draw government’s attention but unfortunately, police came and begin to brutalize us and three persons have been imprisoned by them as we speak,” he added.
He added: “Our kids are not in school. We went to various school administrators and talked with them and they agreed based on respect they have for us, but we are now frustrated. We informed Cecelia Coffey Brown when she took over and she assured us of getting our pay but when she came from China few days, she informed us that she has tried her best and there was no means to get her way out, so we are tire.”
He believes that the process of paying them is being politicized since according to him, they had previously informed us of being paid.
Nebo warned that they will continue protesting until government can see reason to pay them 11 months arrears.
During the protest, Mr. Joe Dorah, a man believe to be a staff in the office of Minister of State, Nathaniel McGill, pleaded with the protesters to remain patient while government address their plight.
All efforts to get respond from the NHA were futile. NHA’s Communication Officer, Maxwell David refused to pick calls of respond to text messages after several attempts were made.
Meanwhile, Presidential Press Secretary Isaac Solo Kelgbeh in an Executive Mansion press briefing has reemphasized the government’s commitment to pay the salary of its employees.
“But these are situation we all should know, that despite this government inheriting a broken economy, he’s doing everything possible to fix it,” Mr. Kelgbeh averred.
“This is not the making of this government, this is a political downtrend that is being observed all over the world, but people will have to know that there are factors responsible for people not being paid.”
Kelgbeh furthered clarified that the Weah led administration is not receiving funds like previous administration and is making strive to address salary payment.
The Presidential Press Secretary maintained: “This government is not receiving fund as previous government received because we just came from war and everybody was giving money, unlike this government is getting everything from revenue generated.”
The Ministry of Finance and Development Planning has however released an update on disbursement of salaries to over 60 institutions as of October 21, 2019.
The institutions include, Liberia Revenue Authority, Monrovia Consolidated School System, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Transport, National Transit Authority, University of Liberia, Liberia National Police, the Judiciary, JFD Memorial Hospital, JFK Memorial Hospital, Bomi County Community College, Harbel College, AFL Pension, National Commission for Disability and the National Council of Chiefs and Elders among others.
Meanwhile, the statement maintained that payment of salaries for the University of Liberia, Tubman University and Zorzor Rural Teachers Training Institute have been disbursed since October 23, 2019.
In the same way, voucher for the Ministry of Health arrived late and is being process while the Legislature salaries check for August and September have been processed.
Additionally, the communication noted that the ministry is processing salaries checks for other institutions that have presented payroll voucher at varying time.
The ministry is also encouraging various ministries and agencies to ensure the timely submission of their monthly payroll vouchers to the Comptroller and Account General’s Office as a means of accelerating payment process.