Senators Divided over Concession of RIA Road

Montserrado County Senator Darius Dillon

Monrovia – Senators Oscar Cooper and Abraham Darius Dillon have said the Senate has taken no decision regarding the East International Company regarding the expansion of the Roberts International Airport highways.

Senator Dillon was responding to something he heard on Okay FM. According to him, Okay FM had said a stalwart of the ruling party, Representative Acarous Gray, had allegedly said that the Senate had ratified the agreement during its emergency sitting thereby meaning it had concurred with the House of Representatives.

“To the best of my recollection that is totally untrue and what is even more appalling and disappointing is when the Chairman on Executive of the Senate takes to the airwave to concur with Representative Acarous Gray,” Sen. Dillon said. 

Margibi County Senator Oscar Cooper

Speaking to group of Legislative reporters, Dillon further said, before their break in October of 2019, the President wrote them (Senate) seeking advice on how to transfer that contract from Bomi County to the RIA expansion project and in response the Plenary informed the President that to advice the President wasn’t the function of the Legislature and that the leadership of the Senate should return the letter.

The Senate did not take any action to concur with or agree with the President to transfer whatever ratification with East International. “We have not acted as a body; we have not voted as a body. In as much we are not against any developmental projected of our country, we want to be cleared on the record that Senator Saah Joseph lied this morning on Okay FM.”

Sen. Joseph Response 

Montserrado County Senior Senator Saah Joseph

In response to the accusation, Senator Saah Joseph said, the document that gave the contract to East International was ratified by the 53rd Legislature by which time he served as Representative for District #13 Montserrado County.

Senator Joseph in his response confirmed the statement made by Senator Dillon that the Senate agreed to return the President’s letter back to him.

 “The leadership of the Senate, having discussed with the Executive, they brought a communication to the Senate to concur with the House. The Communication was read on the floor of the Senate, and a vote was taken. Everyone in the Senate voted in favor and I was the only senator who filed a motion for reconsideration because I disagreed.”

Pro-Temp Response to Claims 

In another response, Senate Pro-Tempore Albert Chie, said on December 18, 2019, by a motion made by  Senator Dan Morais and seconded by Senator Gbleh-Gbo Brown, the Senate concurred with the HOR authorizing the Ministry of Public Works to enter into a contractual agreement with East International through an addendum  of an existing contract. 

“The Secretary of the Senate has all the documents and you can ascertain for yourself. As you can observe, some Senators have poor Session attendance records and some don’t end sessions.”

Like Dillon, Senator Cooper has questioned the documents to show the source of the funding and what is Liberia’s role especially in paying back. He also questioned the bidding process. There are lots of questionable things happening with this RIA agreement,” he said. 

Senate Pro-Tempore Albert Chie

As former Chair of the Senate’s Public Works Committee, the Margibi Senator believes that the money is more needed in the South-east of the country where people get cutoff during the Rainy Season and not on the RIA road that he said is already “paved”.

When the news broke out about the groundbreaking ceremony for the RIA-Monrovia highway with an ambitious plan by the government to raise more than US$94 million dollars to finance the construction of the modern highway, Liberians greeted the news with joy especially when supporters of the CDC-led government in their usual public relations stunt started the postings of exotic photographs of quality roads in foreign countries and creating an impression that those photographs are the engineering design of the future RIA-Monrovia highway.

The level of optimisms about the RIA-Monrovia highway project has been overshadowed within less than two days after the groundbreaking ceremony by the past track records of the contractor that has been selected by the Government to undertake the future project.

With funding yet to be mobilized, how the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Public Works selected East International Group Incorporated remains a big question lingering on the minds of many Liberians.