By Patrick N. Mensah, Maryland County
Several citizens in Pleebo, Maryland County have criticized House Speaker Bhofal Chambers for using a route through neighboring Ivory Coast to visit Maryland in southeast Liberia.
The citizens are angry that Mr. Chambers would find comfort in passing through Cote d’Ivoire to skip the deplorable southeastern road owing to his Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC)-led government’s failure to build the road.
The government has been struggling to allocate national resources in a way that ordinary citizens would positively feel its impact, particularly for road development, health, and education.
But so much is appropriated each year in the budget for top elected offices like that of the Speaker, his deputy, the Pro-Tempore, the President, and Vice President, among others.
Mr. Chambers’ budget of some US$3m is by far higher than what is allocated in the budget for state referral hospital John F. Kennedy Medical Center, as well as Redemption Hospital, among others.
Millions of Liberians who are not privileged as Mr. Chambers to use the Ivorian route can only risk their lives through the bad roads that the House Speaker is avoiding.
During his recent visit to his home county Maryland, Mr. Chambers passed through Ivory Coast to enter Pleebo Sodoken District.
But some residents of Pleebo Sodokon District said it is shameful for a lawmaker from the southeast to abandon the roads leading to his county only because he wants to keep using the roads in Ivory Coast.
“We want to say this, we are the cause of the problems we are going through in this country, especially the Pleebo Sodoken District.”
“Because a lawmaker who is the third man of this Weah administration will abandon his own roads because of their bad conditions and use the Ivorian road. So how can he advocate for budgets for the roads? It’s shameful,” one critic said.
Despite the people’s plights about bad roads, Mr. Chambers received a rousing welcome from his people in Pleebo Sodoken District, Maryland County.
He went to Pleebo to participate in the National Elections Commission (NEC) Biometric Voters’ Registration (BVR) process.
His supporters in the district assured him that they will overwhelmingly re-elect him.
They held an elaborate program in the square of Pleebo City with auxiliaries, youth, women, religious, and traditional chiefs, among others, renewing their commitment to re-elect not just Mr. Chambers, but incumbent President George Manneh Weah this October.
But there were other disenchanted citizens in the group who voiced their criticisms of Mr. Chambers, mainly for using the Ivorian route to visit Pleebo.
According to the critics of Mr. Chambers, it’s unfortunate to have seen Liberia’s third most powerful man using Ivory Coast to visit his county.
They said while Chambers passes through Ivory Coast, several vehicles that were conveying Liberian citizens through Grand Kru County to Maryland have been packed in the mud.
The Chambers’ critics believed that he should have helped ordinary citizens through road maintenance.
They lamented that the southeastern roads have been a major challenge, leaving their lawmaker, Mr. Chambers, to find an Ivorian route as an alternative.
The aggrieved citizens accused Chambers of being one of the lawmakers who has been making the Weah-led administration earn a bad name.
They alleged that his travel through Ivory Coast to Maryland County tells that he has nothing to show to his people.
They said they didn’t know that Mr. Chambers has constantly passed through Ivory Coast, and they are just realizing it.
“We thought, the way he was criticized for using the road upon his visit to the southeast, he wouldn’t have used it again,” another critic said.
“But he has ignored our calls, showing that he has no regrets for the way his people are being treated.”
During his recent visit to the county, Speaker Chambers identified with several citizens and made some cash donations.
He identified with citizens within the twenty-nine Nyenbo towns in Pleebo Sodoken district including residents of Pleebo and students. He encouraged them to take advantage of the BVR process.
Chambers provided one million [Liberian dollars] to the student community and promised to provide scholarships to the students that are sitting the National Exam in his district if they are successful.
Meanwhile, Speaker Chambers has also dedicated two town halls in Kwidoken and Seleken towns, respectively in Maryland County.
The cost of each of the projects was estimated at US$20,000. Chambers also broke grounds for other projects that he promised to get completed before the election day.