Liberia: No Project for Pres. Weah to Turn over in Bong County on First County Tour Despite US$1.8M Development Fund
Kokoyah District, Bong County – Not a single project will be dedicated during president George Mannah Weah’s three-day tour of Bong county despite his government dishing out a whopping US$ 1.8 million in Social Development Funds to fund projects from January 2018 to January 2021.
Though the Executive Mansion says the president’s visit to the county is “aimed at interacting with citizens and not to dedicate projects,” the reality is nothing substantial has been achieved from the Social Development Funds in Bong since Weah became president three years ago.
Weah’s predecessor, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, used her first tour of Bong in 2007, out of seven projects in her first two years, to commission landmark projects including the renovation of the superintendent’s compound and presidential palace at a cost of nearly US$ 400,000 from the County Social Development Funds.
Of the 40 projects that were proposed by residents of the county at two different County Council Sittings from January 18, 2018 to now, only one project has been completed – the headquarters of the Group of 77 at a cost of US$10,000. The remaining 39 projects are incomplete, a FrontPageAfrica investigation has established.
This is happening amid lingering claims of mismanagement of county’s funds by the chairman of Bong county Project Management Committee Steven Mulbah and Bong’s Fiscal Superintendent, Paul Sulunteh.
Mulbah accuses Sulunteh of using the county’s fund to renovate his office at a cost of nearly US$ 2,000, while Sulunteh also accuses Mulbah of singlehandedly increasing his salary from US$1,000 to US$ 2,000.
Lawmakers linked to construction firms?
A FrontPageAfrica investigation also established that majority of lawmakers in the county has a strong relationship with construction firms who sign up to contacts being awarded by the county.
Ansu Sesay, manager of the Sesay Brothers Construction Firm, has been at the center of controversy for receiving funds from the county without undertaking a project.
In March 2019, Sesay received US$ 9,000 for the construction of a clinic in Baryarta Town, Jorquelleh District Two and hasn’t constructed the clinic.
Sesay has also not begun with the construction of a bridge linking Baryarta to the rest of the district despite receiving US$50, 000 from US$ 90,000.
Sesay’s failure to construct the clinic and the bridge projects in Baryarta has provoked uproar from residents of the town. Roads leading to Baryarta, a town with a population of nearly two thousand residents, are in very bad shape, rendering it difficult to transport expectant mothers to the nearest health facility which is approximately 20 kilometers away.
Residents of Baryarta said they are contemplating on staging a protest at the Administration building of the county to raise awareness about their plights.
Oldman Smith, a town leader, said residents of the town are have become vulnerable to illnesses due to the lack of a health facility.
“We will mobilize our people to stage a peaceful protest at the Administration building in Gbarnga to draw the attention of our leaders to our situation. “When clinic is built in our town and there is emergency we will get help as soon as possible,” he said.
This is seemingly the same situation with District Three lawmaker Marvin Cole and the Fah Architecture Design and Construction company. The construction company has been reportedly funding most of the lawmaker’s political initiatives in the county.
Like Sesay and Cole, who served as campaign manager of former senator Henry Yallah during the December 8 Special Senatorial Election, reportedly diverted the money for the Library project to the loan scheme he introduced for residents of his district.