Rep. Domah wants Police, Fire Service before plenary

Representative Roger Domah of Nimbe County Electoral District#7 has alarmed over growing threats to public safety here.

The lawmaker notes that in less than three weeks, he has observed alarming fire disasters which destroyed lives and properties specifically, in Via Town, Randall Street, Pagos Island, Redlight and other communities in Monrovia and its surroundings.

He explains that on 16 February a fire disaster occurred on Pagos Island, Oldest Congo Town, burning to death a family of five, including three children, while another fire outbreak subsequently transpired on Randall Street, razing three stores and several residences to ashes.

Rep. Domah continues that it has also been observed that damaged, faulty or abandoned vehicles are left in the streets or driveway with no or less effort being applied to promptly remove them, which often results to traffic congestions thereby, causing avoidable accidents and sometimes death and property damage.

He is requesting his colleagues in the House to invite authorities of the Liberia National Police and the Liberia National Fire Service to appear before full plenary to explain measures being put in place to reduce these death-related occurrences to ensure public safety.

“In view of these, I request that authorities of the Liberia National Police (LNP) and the Liberia National Fire Service (LNPS) appear before the full plenary of the Honorable House of Representatives to explain measures in place to reduce these occurrences and ensure public safety”, a communication dated March 5, 2018 to Speaker Bhofa Chambers from Rep. Domah reads.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has forwarded the communication to its National Security Committee to report to the body in two weeks.

By Bridgett Milton

Pres. Weah congratulates Putin

President George Manneh Weah has expressed confidence that the relations between Liberia and the Russian Federation will gain a new and elevated thrust, thereby creating the platform for an enhanced cooperation in the areas of trade and investment for the mutual benefit of the two countries.

President Weah’s statement is contained in his congratulatory message to Russian President Vladimir Putin, on the occasion marking his reelection as President of that country.

According to a Foreign Ministry release, in the message to his Russian counterpart, President Weah said Mr. Putin’s successful reelection as President of the Federation exemplifies the validity of Russian democratic institutions which he said is a great source of pride of that country.

The Liberian leader further added that under the dynamic leadership of President Putin, the bilateral relationship subsisting between Liberia and Russia will continue to be marked by strong ties of friendship and cooperation.

He then wished for the Russian leader a continued good health and success as he embarks on his new term of office as President of the Federation.

Weah meets medical students

President George Manneh Weah on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 met aggrieved students of the A.M. Dogliotti College of Medicine and Pharmacy of the University of Liberia. The meeting, held in the C. Cecil Dennis Auditorium focused on concerns from students regarding delays in the payment of their per diems and the lack of transportation to convey them to and from school.

Speaking to the medical students, President Weah enjoined them to bear in mind that his government belongs to them and called on them to always channel their grievances through a civil approach. “We want your human rights addressed but at the same time be civil at all times,” he told some 200 aggrieved students.

President Weah implored them to set up a committee for a meeting with Finance and Development Planning Minister, Samuel B. Tweah for Thursday March 22, 2018 to sort out the their per diems and transportation concerns.

The Liberian leader however informed the students that while it is true that their concerns were germane and legitimate, they should also bear in mind that those concerns were inherited.

Speaking earlier, the spokesperson of the Liberia Medical Students’ Association, Mr. Roosevelt Matthews lauded the Liberian leader for according them the opportunity to hear their concerns and presented their position statement to the Minster of State for Presidential Affairs for onward submission to the President.

During the meeting, President Weah was joined by the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel F. McGill, Trokon Kpui, Minister of State Without Portfolio, Economic Advisor, Charles A. Bright and Jefferson Karmoh, National Security Advisor.

Owensgroove gets kindergarten school

An eight - classroom modern kindergarten school building has been dedicated to the people of Owensgroove in Grand Bassa County.

The dedication and turning over ceremony of the newly constructed W.F.R Whitfield kindergarten school Wednesday, 21 March aims at helping the educational system in that community.

Speaking at the dedication ceremony, the Executive Director of Liberia Mission Outreach International Rev. Henry G. Peabody recalled that in 2017 when he visited the facility, it was one of the worst things he had ever seen in his life.

But following the work that led to its dedication, Rev. Peabody says what he saw was not the kind of school they used to go to. He says classrooms were all smelling and it was not good for the children.

Rev. Peabody observes that for too long Liberians have depended on government to do everything, adding that it is time Liberians start to do things on their own. He says the total cost of the project is about US$35,000 dollars.

He discloses that during a visit to the United States to seek support to roof the old school building, he also received US$ 25,000 from a friend as contribution to building a new school in the area.
Also speaking, Grand Bassa County District #1 Rep. Hans Barchue says there are other things that they can do to help Owensgroove than being a representative.

Mr. Barchue says what Rev. Peabody has done is an example for others to follow to help their district. He pledged 50 armchairs and called on other citizens to do the same.

By Bridgett Milton--Edited by Winston W. Parley

LIS receives 13 deportees

Liberia Immigration Service (LIS) Spokespersperson Laurene Page says Liberia has received 13 deportees from the United States after serving their tenures in jail.

Speaking Tuesday, 20 March on UNMIL Radio,Madam Page said crimes for the deportation include rubbery, fraud, assault, weapon possession, drugs possession, resisting officers, among others.

She says the deportees were received and turned over to their relatives who signed for them. According to Madam Page, after reliable relatives sign for the deportees, LIS monitors them for the period of three months.

“We counsel them because the way in which they are back into their country gets them traumatized. We take the three months to talk to [them] and tell them that there is still hope. We make them believe in themselves that life has not ended, they can still make it and move on with their lives,” she adds.

Meanwhile, the LIS Spokesperson says a new university in Liberia has provided 15 scholarships to officers of the LIS, mainly in the area of environmental health.
She says the 15 officers were selected from the counties and LIS headquarters. She terms the scholarship opportunity as a boost for their operation.

By Ethel A. Tweh--Edited by Winston W. Parley

Governance is key to boosting intra-Africa trade

A new report by the African Natural Resources Centre of the African Development Bank has stressed the importance of forestry governance to boosting intra-African trade of wood products.

The report, Assessing forest law enforcement, governance and trade in Africa, was launched on 21 March, the International Day of Forests, which has as its theme this year, “Forests and sustainable cities.”

According to the report, forestry contributes to the economic development, livelihoods and environmental sustainability of timber-exporting countries, mostly in Central Africa and timber-importing countries in West and North Africa. “The export and import markets within Africa present an opportunity for intra-African trade, with substantial benefits for the populations of both importers and exporters,” it reads.

Though Africa hosts a considerable number of timber-exporting countries, most of these exports consist of primary products, with little value addition. The report notes: “In 2013, African countries exported timber products worth about USD 4.5 billion. Of these, three-quarters were primary products (logs, sawnwood and veneer). The same year, timber imports to African markets amounted to USD 6.5 billion, of which 8% (USD 526 million) were intra-regional. Sawnwood was the most important timber import with 31% of the total (USD 2 billion).”

The governance of the forestry sector is key to facilitating value addition of wood products. To improve governance in Africa’s forestry sector, there should be political, institutional and cultural frameworks, through which interests in forest resources are coordinated and controlled.

The report recommends a regional programme for the promotion of legality in African timber trade that would harness the forestry sector through trade in legal timber products between African sub-regional markets. “It is imperative that we give forestry the attention that it deserves, and that the planting of trees becomes a routine activity across the continent,” said Modibo Traore, forestry expert and Officer-in-Charge of the African Natural Resources Centre, in a call for action.-Press release

UNOPS delegation pays courtesy call on President Weah

A two- man delegation from the United Nations Office for Special Projects Services (UNOPS) paid a courtesy call on President George Mannah Weah. The UNOPS delegation on Wednesday March 21, 2018 called on the Liberia leader at his Foreign Ministry Office in Monrovia.

Receiving the delegation, President Weah commended the team and expressed his willingness to work with them in transforming the lives of the Liberian people through the introduction of his Pro-Poor Agenda. The President quipped that Liberia is lacking infrastructures and vibrant facilities in all sectors. He said his primary objective is to prioritize road connectivity and upgrade housing facilities for slums dwellers in rural Liberia.

President Weah noted that his goal is to ensure the implementation of his Pro-Poor Agenda go as far as the “last Village in Liberia.” He said: “Our approach is to ensure that we connect the country and put in facilities that have never been experienced before.”

The Liberian leader further informed the UNOPS delegation that he believes in less talk and more action, which informed his determination to embark on a housing project to upgrade homes in the slum communities and across Liberia.

President Weah intimated that he is committed to changing the lives of the Liberian people, which has given rise to the construction of roads at the helm of his Pro-Poor Agenda. “I believe that when the roads are connected, agriculture, healthcare, education and other sectors of the Pro-Poor Agenda will fall in place,” he said.

The President emphasized that he has no second thoughts when it comes to implementing projects that will improve the lives of Liberians. “For us, we want to build. We just want Liberia to change for the benefit of our people, and we will need your help,” President Weah added.

The delegation was led by Mr. Ary Bobrow, Country Director of UNOPS for The Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. Also in attendance was UNOPS Country Manager for Liberia, Mr. Fayyaz Ahmad Faiz Rasul.

Earlier, Mr. Ary Bobrow expressed his delight in meeting President Weah and congratulated him on his ascendency to the Presidency. He said the aim of the delegation’s visit was to discuss UNOPS’ scope of operation and mandate.

For his part, the UNOPS-Liberia Country Manager, Mr. Fayyaz Ahmad Faiz Rasul also said the main objective of their visit was to initiate discussions in aiding to accelerate the President’s developmental plans for his Pro-Poor Agenda by identifying sectors the President thinks has the biggest deficits.

Shoot on sight!

In what could be described as reckless and irresponsible instruction, the Management of the Liberia Airport Authority or LAA issues a stern order here Wednesday, to the Armed Forces of Liberia to shoot on sight, suspected criminals found in the airport’s premises.

But the AFL says it does not take order from civilian authority, and that there is no such arrangement with authorities at the LAA. A public service announcement posted on social media reads, “The management of the Liberia Airport Authority in collaboration with the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) wishes to inform the general public that additional security measures have been put into place at RIA, to secure the premise of the airport especially the aerodrome or the airside from theft and unlawful interferences.”

The announcement details that the new measures include: Stringent patrols by armed men of the AFL at every entry point of the aerodrome or airside at RIA and authorization to the AFL to shoot at sight, anyone who attempts to steal any of the navigational equipment, within the aerodrome or on the airside at the RIA.

“In view of these new security measures, the public is advised to keep away and not to unlawfully interfere with the aerodrome or airside at any time, as these measures will be strictly applied to the letter”, the LAA Management warns.

But in a sharp response, Assistant Defense Minister for Public Affairs Sam Collins told a local radio station in Monrovia via mobile phone that there is no such collaboration with the airport authorities to shoot on sight, civilians suspected to criminals.

“That order does not come from the AFL; we have reached no arrangement with the airport authorities to shoot on sight”, Collins says. He says the AFL has set operational procedure and under that procedure it does not take order from civilian authorities.

Gradually, authorities of the Weah-led administration seem to be turning this country into a police state, acting outside the law.

Story by Jonathan Browne

Gov’t needs more borrowing

Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel D. Tweah says there is no way Liberia can grow, end poverty or transform the private sector without more borrowing from international partners including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), European Union (EU), the World Bank and other institutions.

He told a press conference in Monrovia Tuesday, 20 March with a high power delegation from the IMF that for Liberia’s economy to grow, there is a need for government to depend on borrowing money from international partners like IMF, EU and the World Bank.

He says what the government is even looking for is a robust partnership with the IMF to help strengthen its Pro-poor vision, saying government will be looking for greater flexibility because it wants to be transformative to its people.

Mr. Tweh indicates that the president’s new vision is targeting infrastructure, noting that it will require good amount of money to meet such target to mainly deliver about 1,500km of roads.

He also cites investments in the agriculture sector as part of Mr. Weah’s key targets which he says will attract more borrowing.

“Public financial management under President Weah is going to be completely different [from] what it was in the past six years,” Mr. Tweh promises.

Mr. Tweh argues that one indication of government’s commitment is the budget recast that was recently submitted to the 54th Legislature, cutting down wages and demonstrating commitment to addressing pro-poor issues.

He says government is putting in place a private sector plan to “doing business,” on grounds that it is only through the private sector “we” can generate more jobs.

Mr. Tweh says over the next several weeks, government will unveil what is a roadmap to its new development strategy to the public. According to him, the new development strategy will focus on infrastructure development and roads.

Minister Tweah indicates that the idea is to prioritize sectors that can support growth, and develop jobs.

By Lewis S. Teh--Edited by Winston W. Parley

Senior World Bank officials arrive today

World Bank Group Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Sandie Okoro are expected to arrive in Liberia today for a two day visit.

Ms. Okoro’s mission will enable her to understand how World Bank financed programs and projects are working on the ground. The mission will also help her to learn how the Bank’s recently decentralized legal services are working and how they can better support the Government’s program funded by the Bank.

While in Liberia, Ms. Okoro will pay a courtesy call on Minister of Justice and Attorney General Frank Musa Dean, Jr. to discuss strategies the Bank and Government could employ and learn about the justice sector’s accomplishments and challenges. She will be accompanied by Chief Counsel for the World Bank Africa Region, Sheila Braka Musiime.

Prior to departing Liberia, Ms. Okoro will visit the newly rehabilitated and equipped Montserrado Industrial Fisheries Terminal Monitoring Center and interact with beneficiaries of the West Africa Regional Fisheries Project (WARFP-LIBERIA). The opportunities and contribution of the fisheries sector cannot be improved in the absence of the needed infrastructures. That is why the Bank has supported the Government of Liberia to achieve this important development milestone, which will contribute to jobs by increasing local fish landing and value-added activities.


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