Liberia’s Mines and Energy Minister Gaster Murray says Liberia lacks qualified engineers and technocrats that should have handled the electricity sector and other technical areas of the country.
Minister Gaster Murray made the disclosure to the media in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County on Monday, 4 March during the launch of the payment of compensations for the Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea (TRANSCO-CLSG) Project affected persons here.
The Energy Minister says the cross – border electricity construction contract could not have been given to Liberians due to the lack of qualified Liberians in that area and lack of adequate funding.
During the launch, reporters observed that the electricity project which is currently in some parts of Grand Gedeh, Nimba and Grand Bassa Counties is being hugely undertaken by foreigners, mainly Chinese and Indians.
Justifying the action further, Minister Murray said international partners that are providing the funding want international best standards and claims that Liberians cannot march the foreigners.
According to him, in some of the contracts, contractors have to spent about US$50 million before a cent can be given by donors, arguing that Liberians cannot afford such.
Murray says he doesn’t know the percent of Liberians in the deal, adding further that doesn’t know the total number of Liberians hired for the construction of the electricity project here.
More than 300 people are said to be affected by the construction of the transmission line and substation in Liberia and they are being compensated through a transparent process for the loss of their properties, including farmlands, which are within the transmission line and substation corridors.
According to the General Manager of TRANSCO – CLSG Mr. Mohammed Sherif the compensation process gives way for the construction of a 1303 kilo meter transmission line from Cote d’Ivoire through Liberia, Sierra Leone and to Guinea.
“Following the RAP process, TRANSCO – CLSG will acquire the project’s 40 kilo meter corridor and sites and turn them over to the contractors who are waiting to jumpstart construction of the transmission line and substations across the CLSG countries,” he says.
He says TRANSCO – CLSG which implements the CLSG electricity project has already conducted information campaigns across Liberia to sensitize communities on the resettlement process.
He adds that all those affected by the CLSG project have been identified and TRANSCO – CLSG has also assessed all assets in the right of way, following which the company established an inventory.
Mr. Sheriff notes that for the specific case of Liberia, the CLSG project involves the construction of approximately 530km of 225kV power line through seven counties including, Nimba, Bong, Grand Bassa, Margibi, Montserrado, Bomi and Grand Cape Mount.
Meanwhile, Sherif says donors of the CLSG project including the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, the KfW, the German Development Bank, have reaffirmed their unwavering support to the successful implementation of the CLSG project.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor– Edited by Winston W. Parley