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GeneralLiberia news

Senate probes Public Works

Senate moves to probe the Ministry of Public Works on restoring the permit to the mining concession, Western Cluster in Western Liberia, amid outcry from citizens.

By Ethel A. Tweh & Bridgett Milton 

Monrovia, Liberia, June 12, 2024 –The Liberian Senate plenary instructed its Public Works, Transport, Mines, and Energy committee to probe the Ministry of Public Works on its decision to restore Western Cluster’s road user permit and report in two weeks.

The plenary decision was triggered by a communication from Bomi County Senator Edwin M. Snowe, Jr., who called the Senate’s attention to what he called the Public Works Ministry’s unhealthy decision.

“I present my compliments and herewith write to bring to your esteemed attention the unhealthy decision from the Ministry of Public Works to restore the Road User Permit (RUP-220620-004) of Western Cluster Limited to transport iron ore from the Bomi Hill Mines to the Freeport of Monrovia, amidst continued violations of terms and conditions enshrined within the Mineral Development Agreement with the Government of Liberia.” Senator Snowe writes.

He says that in addition to restoring the Road User Permit, the Ministry of Public Works has also instructed Western Cluster Limited to increase its fleet of trucks from fifty to one hundred twenty-five, making double trips each, resulting in two hundred fifty trips per night, which is totally unacceptable. 

Snowe notes that the allowable gross load has increased from 30 to 45 tons per truck, using damaged bridges along the road corridor, lamenting that these grave violations are not only adding damages to the already dire conditions of the St. Paul Bridge- to Bomi Hills Road Corridors, but imposing a serious safety hazard for pedestrians plying the road.

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He requests that the plenary take note of these concerns and mandate its relevant committees to investigate the matter to ensure the safety of the people.

Meanwhile, Bong County District #5 Representative Eugene Kollie writes to the House of Representatives here requesting the appearance of the Minister of Public Works, Roland Layfette Giddings, to address concerns about an alleged 22.4 million dollar road contract awarded by the Ministry to several construction companies, including CHICO, CICO, and other institutions without the approval of the Legislature.

According to Rep. Kollie, it has come to his attention that the Ministry of Public Works awarded these contracts without seeking legislative approval, as required by the Public Financial Management (PFM) and the Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC) Laws of Liberia.

The laws, among other requirements, state that funding should be available before any government institution awards contracts.

“I am deeply concerned about the minister not following due diligence in the awarding of such a significant amount of public funds; hence, any violation of such process must be thoroughly investigated,” Rep. Kollie’s communication to the leadership of the House reads.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives plenary has invited the Minister of Public Works to appear before the full plenary next week, Tuesday, June 18, 2024, to provide information surrounding his decision to award these contacts without seeking approval from requisite authorities. Editing by Jonathan Browne 

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