The over praised interim Management of the Liberian Electricity Corporation or LEC is said to be involved into last rush big spending as its tenure nears an end.
Amongst some of its huge spending which has raised eye brows is the US$200,000 payment allegedly made for a disputed 1.84 acres of land situated within the Joe Bar Community in Paynesville on March 7, 2017, which management claims has stalled work on the Monrovia – Kakata corridor transmission lines project for over a year.
But what seems to be more strange about this payment is that documents available to the New Dawn shows that the US200, 000, which was purported to have been paid to the administrator of the George Jackson Interstate Estate, was actually received and signed for by Mr. Joel Refell of the Presidential Delivery Unit or PDU at the Executive Mansion, with Jones & Jones Law firm as the Payee.
The NewDawn on Tuesday, 25 April made several phone calls, followed by text messages to authorities at the LEC including Managing Director Mr. Foday Sackor and Chief Accountant Titus Morlu and Mr. Refell of the PDU to provide clarity on the payment, but neither the corporation nor Mr. Refell responded to any of the calls or text messages as at press time.
Another thing noted in the payment received and signed for by Mr. Refell is that LEC’s sector Ministry, the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy appears not to be involved in the payment arrangement as documents show.
Thus there are emerging concerns over how the Assistant Director of the President’s Delivery Unit Mr. Reffell, who is expected to have ensure due diligence became recipient of the US$200,000 and not the alleged land administrator of the Interstate Estate of George T. Jackson.
This paper has made repeated efforts to contact Mr. Reffell by calls and text messages through his phone number placed on the document on which he is listed as recipient, but did not succeed.
Further, there are also concerns as to how the Jones and Jones Law Firm that had in some cases represented the legal interest of those accused of power theft by the LEC became the “payee” in the contested “Interstate Estate of George T. Jackson LEC Land Payment” deal.
Given the signatures on the document that specifies the payment and recipient of the US$200,000 in person of Reffell, this paper is yet to verify as to whether the money was given to the administrator of the disputed land as was supposed to be.
In a legal memorandum authorized by the Director of LEC Legal Services Mayalan Keita – Brown on 22 February this year, the LEC reported that due to disputes over title or ownership to the Joe Bar, Paynesville, LEC Substation Land, the Monrovia-Kakata project had experienced delays with high variation costs of almost a million dollar.
The corporation says the variation cost includes the arrival into the country of contracted workers who were waiting for resolution of the land disputes before they could commence work on the Monrovia – Kakata corridor of the transmission lines.
“For over a year and a half the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) and the Administrators of the Intestate Estate of the Late George T. Jackson have disputed over the issue for the title/ownership to a 1.48 acres of land situated in the Joe Bar, Paynesville Community”, the LEC says.
It adds that on three separate occasions, the land administrators have disrupted construction and development activities at the Paynesville Substation, while claiming ownership of the property.
Citing time factor, the LEC says it sought advice from LME and the Ministry of Justice or MoJ, and that “based on the advice from the Ministry of Justice” to discuss with the land administrators, the Corporation aversely agreed to pay a total of US$300,000 out of US$675,000 initially demanded by the party on grounds that LEC used the property since 1966.
By Winston W. Parley-Edited by Othello B. Garblah