Liberia: Locals Demand Explanation over Halted Legislative Support Project in Gbarpolu County
Bopolu City – Several local officials of Gbarma Statutory District in Gbarpolu County’s electoral district three have voiced concerns over the abrupt manner in which the County Health Officer (CHO), Dr. Musa Zuannah halted a Legislative Support Project (LSP) intended for their district.
J. Thomas Ezike, the statutory superintendent, alleged that the CHO put a hold on the construction of a health center project because the local administration was demanding a full disclosure of the project cost.
Mr. Ezile claims that Dr. Zuannah has, at the same time, downplayed all agreements relating to the project.
The total fund allotted for the Gbarma District Health Center extension building is put at US$120,000.00. It is funded through Gbarpolu district three former Representative Gertrude T. Larmin as part of the LSP fund. The said amount has been reportedly deposited in the Gbarma district health team’s bank account.
At the same time, Commissioner Momo Binda told Local Voices Liberia that locals are “not happy” and want urgent answer.
“Everywhere we went in this district, the people are asking us. What is the status of this project? We can’t really get over it, because Dr. Zuannah is not telling us anything about this project. He only came and put stop to this project without telling us anything and he just left,” explained Binda.
“When we called him (CHO), he can’t pick up our call. So, we are calling on him to come and give us some clarity, because our citizens need this project.”
Boakai Momo, a member of the Gbarma District Construction Union said, “Since we started the contract, they cannot come. They have put stop to it without giving us some of our money. We are feeling bad. This means that they don’t want for anything good to come here for us.”
Momo claims that they signed the contract in June 2018 to implement the project within nine months. But while molding the blocks, Dr. Zuannah halted the process claiming that the blocks were substandard.
“Because of that reason, he put stop to the project implementation. From that time up to present, they have been calling on them. Each time we call them, they can say they are coming but they cannot come,” he said.
“We have been using three wheel barrels of sand to one bag of cement which he said is the “standard for brick molding.”
According to the agreement, the county health team should provide all the construction materials and pay US$10,000.00 as workmanship.
In response, County Health Officer, Dr. Zuannah said the first phase of the project started with the molding of the blocks, but he was quick to discover that the blocks are substandard
This means that 8,000 pieces of blocks molded so far would not be used for the construction, and Local Voices Liberia can confirmed that 424 bags of cement in the warehouse have all turned into solid stones.
But, Dr. Zuannah cautioned locals to “stop politicizing the situation,” adding, “right now where we are, we have to move forward and be very sincere with ourselves. This is the very first time I am going to work with the community. And I must be very careful.”
“We are not able to be coming from Bopolu to Gbarma all the times. So we have a committee set aside already, this dry season we will move in and continue the project.”
For her part, the Gbarma Statutory District Inspector, Theresa Gbanjah, said the women are not happy over the abrupt halt of the project implementation.
“When the project started, the CHO (Dr. Zuannah) met us in a meeting and every one of us embraced it and asked us to recommend a local company but to my utmost surprise I only herd that the project has come to a standstill.”
Gbanjah stressed that having a health center in the district would ease the troubles people go through to seek medical care.
“Sometimes, when we received a case here, if no car around, it can be a big problem, which is very, very bad. So we need a health center in this district to help us too.”
The inspector pointed out the absence of an ambulance and health center are some major challenges in their district.
“Can you imagine, when we get a case here, we have to send to Lofa Bridge in Grand Cape Mount County to bring an ambulance to help,” she said.
“We being hearing that they wanted to send ambulance here but up to now we have not seen a sign of ambulance neither a motorbike, and today it about this clinic now.”