Local democracy and empowerment (Pt 1)

first_imgDear Editor,We are once again approaching yet another Local Government Election which should democratically elect local representatives to run the affairs of their Local Authority Areas (LAAs). However, I have listened with disdain and disbelief as both the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC) seem to be suffering intense delusion that the People’s Progressive Party is to be blamed for the currently stymied development of these LAAs countrywide.In terms of local democracy, we have witnessed numerous instances in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) whereby there were efforts by the APNU and the AFC to fraudulently frustrate the electoral process by inserting as candidates many persons who were not backed by the people living in the respective communities such as Whim/Bloomfield and 51/Good Hope LAAs. This by itself being a fraudulent act, has more so damaged and frustrate the entire meaning and purpose of Local Government Elections and has denied the people to democratically elected representatives of their choice. Article 71(1) of our Constitution is seriously breached since it says that, ‘Local Government is a vital aspect of democracy and shall be organised so as to involve as many people as possible in the task of managing and developing the communities in which they live’.It is therefore imperative that the people so elected should be competent to manage and develop their communities and have the support of persons in their community, at least 18 of those in the case of Neighbourhood Democratic Councils. A relevant question needs to be ventilated here. If a prospective candidate cannot even find 18 persons to back him or her, can we conclude that such a candidate is ‘fit and proper’? Imagine a prospective candidate has to cheat, deceive and commit forgery just to have 18 names to back his/her candidacy! Why would political parties go against the spirit and meaning of what local democracy is all about? Voters should beware of such political parties since they have already shown their true colours so do not expect them to deliver when they get into office. We have seen this played out at the last General and Regional Elections in 2015 and its aftermath! Has Local Government Elections truly returned democracy to Guyana? The answer is NO! The entire electoral process must be deemed to be free and fair!Yours sincerely,Haseef YusufRDC Councillor,Region Sixlast_img read more

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Meteor sighting in Canal No. 1

first_imgBy: Devina SamarooAstrange sphere of light flashed in the early morning sky, startling a group of men on their way to work.The peculiar light streaking across the early morning skyIs it an unidentified flying object? A Meteor? An extraterrestrial visitor?Residents from Canal Number One and nearby villages, who were outside on Wednesday around 04:30h might have witnessed the glowing ball of fire blazing through the lightening sky.Kishal Bessoondiyar, 27, one of the dazed observers, was quick to post photos of the intergalactic object to Facebook under the caption “UFO seen right in Canal Number One”.The album soon went viral, with over 400 shares and individuals from all across Guyana expressing bewilderment over the sighting.Many believed the peculiar glow to be a UFO, judging from the online comments. Others believed the image was photoshopped or sourced from another country while others pronounced it a comet.During an interview with Guyana Times on Saturday, Bessoondiyar said he was definitely taken aback when he spotted the illumination in the sky. “It was a tiny glow moving at a regular pace and then it started to go faster and it got bigger. You started to see the smoke trails getting thicker and then it disappeared,” he related.He said the experience lasted roughly two minutes.“It was an amazing sight,” he exclaimed.After doing some research, Bessoondiyar posted a video of a similar object spotted over the Miami Airport in Florida in September last.Onlookers initially thought it to be a UFO, however news agencies reported that it was actually a rocket launch.According to CBS Miami, the United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket blasted off from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station around the same time the object was spotted.last_img read more

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Murder weapon tendered into evidence

first_img2014 Plantain Walk fatal stabbingAs the trial of a Plantain Walk, West Bank Demerara, mother accused of fatally stabbing her common-lawCurtis McKinnonhusband, Curtis McKinnon, 38, two years ago continues, the murder weapon was tendered in evidence at the High Court.Nicola Joseph is on trial for allegedly killing her husband on July 21, 2014 at their home during an altercation.In the case being heard before Justice Jo-Ann Barlow and a jury of seven men and five women, Police Constable Alex Solomon took to the witness box on Monday where he explained that he was the first Police rank to arrive in the bedroom of the Lot 12 Plantain Walk home where the stabbing occurred.The courtroom was shown a brown-handled stainless steel knife that was tendered as the murder weapon. Additionally, a blood-stained mint green mosquito net was also tendered as evidence.Under cross-examination by Defence Counsel Sonia Parag, the witness was grilled as to why the murder weapon was not photographed as with other pieces of evidence at the murder scene. Constable Solomon explained that as he was first to arrive, he wanted to secure the murder weapon, noting that it bore drops of blood stains. Solomon however admitted that he was unaware whether or not the knife was dusted for finger prints. He further noted that the knife was not shown to the two other Policemen – Sergeant Dyal and Sergeant Singh – both of whom arrived on site sometime later.The two children of the murder-accused also took the stand to give evidence. At this point Joseph faced her head down for much of the two testimonies.First up was 19-year-old Joshua Perou who explained that his stepfather shared a bedroom with his mother, and the four siblings, including himself shared the other bedroom.He stated that on the day in questioned, “Uncle Curtis” went into the bedroom along with his two young sisters, who were also the children of the deceased man. The jurors were told that his mother, Joseph, arrived home some 30 minutes after and an argument ensued. However, he told the court that he could not make out what was being stated.He explained that he pulled the curtain to see what was occurring but was told by his mother to leave the room.While the young man stressed that he could not recall if his mother had anything in her hand, he noted that she went into the kitchen after which she returned to the bedroom.Minutes after, he heard a “chocking sound” and pulled the curtain and saw his step-father bleeding from the chest area. All the while, the witness claimed that his mother was standing at the couple’s bedside.Perou added that he panicked, then ran to get neighbours, assistance, who assisted in transporting his stepfather to the hospital via taxi. When questioned by Prosecutor Siand Dhurjon, the witness told the court that he never saw injuries on his mother that night. When further questioned, he said that the couple shared a loving relationship and that the July 2014 incident was the first time such violence occurred.The defence however sought to establish that his mother was being beaten at the time of the altercation.Meanwhile, the 17-year-old’s sister confirmed most of what her brother told court about the argument. However, she explained that she did hear her mother complain of being beaten and added that when her brother went into the room, he shouted: “Uncle Curt and mommy, ya’ll stop!” The matter will continue at the High Court this morning.last_img read more

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Ex Sports Writer, Others Challenged to Shepherd the Flock

first_imgPastor Emmanuel F. Bimba, overseer of the Abide in the Vine Disciples Church International, told 15 new leaders of the New Life Christian Fellowship International yesterday to guide the flock and not to scatter them.They included former sports writer, Sargbe E. Byrd, who is also chairman of his Thinker Village Community. With smiles on their faces, the 15, including 9 women, told the congregation at the church’s edifice in Thinkers Village to perform their duties with the Holy Spirit as their guide.To a question as to whether they were compelled to accept the position, each of the fifteen answered, “I was not forced,” and indicated that they are willing to work for the church.Pastor Bimba, quoting part of Nehemiah 2: 15-20, told the congregation that selflessness and consultation with were part of what could make their leadership grow the church.“You must remember that you have two responsibilities,” Pastor Bimba told them, “one is your service to the Lord and the second is your role as a Sheppard of the congregation.” He urged them to avoid backbiting and be aware that whatever issue that would come up should be handled collectively.He told the new leaders to let the word of God shine in their lives, particularly as they deal with each other both at the church at outside the church.He also urged the church’s pastor, Prince Williams to always remember to work with his congregation, knowing that the work is for the Lord.The new officers are Tee Aloysius Kou, Sagbe E. Byrd, Daniel O. Daris, Ma Ruth, Forkpa T. Wonlyou, Frederick S. C. Nyemah and Lovetee N. Kai.The rest are Adolphus K. Vakor, Victoria M. Poweh, Mama David, James T. Kolubah Jr., Esther M. T. Tarr, Alpha J. Young, Daris Myers and Bro. Mark.Sagbe E. Byrd formerly worked for Sports Life newspaper, and traveled to several African countries. He was also a founding member of the Sports Writers Association of Liberia, SWAL.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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Meet 36-Yr-Old Honey Bee Farmer

first_imgShe is 36 and engages in one of the rarest farming professions in Liberia — Bee Farming. Old lady Kumba Saah told the Daily Observer Farmer Desk that she was taught by a Ghanaian national in 2006 and has since been raising bees for their honey on her own. Beekeeping is so rare among the farming professions in Liberia that to see its farmer is another thing. Most preferably it would be a male farmer raising bees for their honey than a female the reason being that because bees are ferocious. They are notable for their caustic sting when they are troubled. No woman or most of them won’t want to bother with raising bees that never get to know their owners. This is not the case with Ms. Saah, however. “It’s a very good profession. My family has lived on it since I started doing it. It doesn’t have much work,” Ms. Saah, a mother of two, said.“It’s not hard to do; anyone can do it. That person will only need a little brush up and he or she can be on their own. There is not physical work in the process,” she explained. However, she countered that what someone might see as being hard is when driving the bees away from their combs in order to harvest the honey. She told our Farmer Desk that she built 15 boxes to keep her bees but only four of the boxes were left; the rest were stolen. From a box, she stated beaming with a smile: “When the bees really produce more, one box can give seven gallons of honey.”She sells a 0.5 liters of honey for L$840 (US$10) and a gallon for L$6,720 (US$80). One major problem she has right now is marketing one and half barrels of pure honey she has stored. She stated that it’s a very good venture that she is hoping to join partnership with someone, who will be willing to increase the size of the business. At the moment, Ms. Saah said all she does right is just ‘from hand to mouth,’ meaning she only does it for her family’s survival. The single parent has a family size of seven, including her younger sister, younger sister’s kids and her kids. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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Legislature Goes on Annual Break

first_imgThe House of Representatives and the Senate respectively ended this year’s legislative session on Thursday, October 15 for their constitutional annual or constituency break, previously known as agriculture break.The formal closure of the 4th Session of the Senate marked the 29th day sitting, while the House was at the 13th day sitting of its extraordinary session.Conventionally, the Legislature, the first branch of government, embarks on its annual break on August 30, but extended its session by six weeks upon the request of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf made on August 27 in accordance with Article 32b of the 1986 Constitution.“The President shall, on his (or her) own initiative or upon receipt of a certificate signed by at least one-fourth of the total membership of each House, and by proclamation, extend a regular session of the Legislature beyond the date for adjournment or call a special extraordinary session of that body to discuss or act upon matters of national emergency and concern. When the extension or call is at the request of the Legislature, the proclamation shall be issued not later than forty-eight hours after receipt of the certificate by the President,” the Constitution states.A rumor on the extension of the Legislature’s session by another 15 days did not materialize as a reason for the President’s visit on Wednesday with the joint leadership of the Legislature.The motion for adjournment of the 4th Session at the House of Representatives made by Montserrado County Representative Edward Forh was unanimously seconded.In his formal closing and statement of appreciation, Speaker J. Alex Tyler said the conclusion of the 4th Session of the 53rd Legislature was in agreement with their practice, law and constitutional warrant.ObituarySpeaker Tyler suggested a pause to commemorate the transition of the late Fofi Sahr Baimba of Lofa County.“May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace. Many and varied were the vicissitudes which confronted us and our people, coming, as we were, from a vicious and unrelenting attack from the Ebola Virus,” the Speaker said.Legislative SummarySpeaker Tyler said the second Monday in January of 2015, was the start of the 4th Session, and the House of Representatives held several public hearings on various proposed bills and welcomed into their homes and offices, hundreds of their constituents, as they attended to their multiple problems.He said 38 bills are with the committees, while 33 bills were passed into law, with a number of bills still outstanding which, upon their return on Monday, January 14, 2016 they would start working on.Cautioning anti-graft institutions, Speaker Tyler stressed on integrity and urged them to persevere in their sacred objectives.House’s Interim AdministratorsThe Bomi County lawmaker pointed out that the House is adjourning for constituency visits, and wished his colleagues well as they rest with their respective family members to reflect on the past year’s work.But he stressed that the government does not shut down, and announced that the Statutory Committees and Representatives from the 15 counties will continue to meet and serve during the closure of the House.The interim administrators include Rep. Varmumah Corneh (Montserrado); Rep. Mary Kawah (Grand Bassa); Rep. Jeremiah McCauley (Sinoe); Rep. Dr. Isaac Roland (Maryland); Rep. Larry Younquoi (Nimba); Numennie Bartekwai (Grand Kru); Rep. Christian Chea (River Gee); Rep. Morias Waylee (Grand Gedeh); Rep. Byron Zarweah; Rep. Prince Moye (Bong); Rep. Stephen Kafi (Margibi); Rep. Clarence Massaquoi (Lofa) and; Rep. Haja Siryon (Bomi).Thankful CollaborationThe Speaker said the level of cooperation from the other two branches of government, the Judiciary and Executive, was courteous, cordial and mutually beneficial, for which he thanked the respective heads.Vote of thanksSpeaker Tyler extended his thanks and appreciation to the personal staffers, central administration staffs and the print and electronic media that helped to carry out their tasks during the 4th Sitting.“We also thank electors for keeping us busy, alert and on our toes! We wouldn’t have it any other way,” Speaker Tyler said.ProspectsThe Speaker said that as they approach 2016, they would do their utmost to tackle and, hopefully pass, many of the intractable bills remaining among the various committees.“The next sitting augurs promise and prospects because our fledgling democracy would be poised for a change in two years, fulfilling the constitutional and statutory mandate, vouchsafed to us by the organic laws of the state,” Speaker Tyler stressed.“With uncommon zeal, undaunted patriotism and a nationalistic fervor which knows no bounds, I salute you to the task which lies ahead,” he concluded.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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Gov’t Wants NSA’s US$284K Case Transferred

first_imgA legal argument as to whether or not a case in which US$247,000 was allegedly confiscated from a group of Korean nationals by officers of the National Security Agency (NSA) should be transferred from Monrovia, in Montserrado County, to another county for hearing will be decided on Friday by Judge Yussif Kaba of the Civil Law Court at the Temple of Justice.Judge Kaba’s decision to reserve ruling on the change of venue for the case came immediately after he listened to the lawyers pushing their respective arguments to convince him.In 2014, the NSA confiscated from a group of Korean businessmen, Messrs Jung Dal Park, Chae Dae Byoung, Chold Jung Woo, Cha Kwang Woon and Aleck Gold, without a court order, the amount of US$247,000. The NSA claimed the cash was ‘counterfeit banknotes,’ and placed it in an escrow account. The remaining US$37,000 was unaccounted for.The Korean investors denied the claim and are seeking legal redress to get their money back from the NSA.At yesterday’s proceedings, state lawyer Cllr. Augustine Fayiah argued that should the matter be decided in Monrovia, there would be no justice for the state on grounds that the issue had been heard on various media outlets on several occasions. According to Cllr. Fayiah, public perception could influence the jury’s decision.They also argued that if they were to hear the matter in Monrovia, prospective jurors already have their minds made up that the allegation was true; and as such, they would not have a fair trial.On the other hand, lawyers for the Koreans argued that if the matter were to go to another county, their clients would be burdened by huge expenses such as hotel bills, food, and transport, among others.Judge Kaba is expected to decide on these arguments on Friday.In their complaint, the Korean businessmen alleged that they withdrew US$284,000 on bank slips from the International Bank (IB) on July 8, 2014. They alleged that while they were going through a business transaction for gold with Nasser Ally, a Lebanese businessman who had invited them to Liberia, the NSA agents, who claimed that the US bills were ‘counterfeit bank notes,’ confiscated their money.They believed that somebody at the IB Bank alerted Fumbah Sirleaf, head of the NSA, who reportedly sent his agents to seize the money. “Further,” they claimed in their complaint, “our clients have presented to us emails which were exchanged with Mr. Ally prior to their visit to Liberia and were shocked that after they were jointly arrested along with Mr. Ally while transacting business, Fumba Sirleaf allegedly instructed his boys to remove Mr. Ally from the midst of the Koreans to an unknown area. After a while, the plain-clothes security returned and confiscated the money claiming it was counterfeit US banknotes.“Of course, Ally from that moment, was seen as ‘cooperating’ with the investigators and was never seen again.“What is mind-boggling is that none of our clients or a third party was present when US$49,300 of the US$284,000 was declared as ‘counterfeit notes’ by the same arresting officers who confiscated our clients’ money.”Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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House Elects New Speaker

first_imgMembers of the House of Representatives have overwhelmingly elected Margibi County District #5 Representative J. Emmanuel Nuquay as the new Speaker of the 53rd Legislature after over three months of in-house wrangling.Speaker Nuquay has replaced Bomi County District #2 Representative J. Alex Tyler Sr.Rep. Nuquay was unanimously elected by ‘white ballot,’ with the attendance of 50 Representatives.The Speaker’s election was based upon the lifting of the Stay Order placed on it on Monday, October 3, by Justice-in-Chambers, Sie-A-Nyene Gyapay Youh. The Stay Order was petitioned by Montserrado County District #15 Adolph Lawrence.Justice Youh further declined to issue an alternative Writ of Prohibition against the election, from which the deposed Speaker said he was unconstitutionally removed.It may be recalled that the former Speaker was removed by 49 lawmakers, comparable to two-thirds members, through a resolution amid a major row over his criminal indictment relating to bribery as alleged in the Global Witness Report.The resolution referenced Article 49 of the 1986 Constitution and Rule 9.1 of the House’s Rules and Procedures qualifying the Speaker’s removal on Tuesday, September 27, during the 8th Day Extraordinary Sitting.Article 49 of the Constitution says: “The Speaker, the Deputy Speaker and other officers so elected may be removed from office for cause by resolution of a two-thirds majority of the members of the House” and also Rule 9.1 of the House’s Rules and Procedure states: “The Speaker, Deputy Speaker and other Officers of the House may be removed from office for cause by a resolution of a two-thirds majority of the members of the House.”Chief Clerk Mildred Sayon, the Chief Administrator of the House of Representatives, served as the Chairman of the Election Body, aided by Sergeant-at-Arms Gen. Martin Johnson.Meanwhile, before Justice Youh’s decision yesterday, another lawmaker, Representative Adolph Lawrence, had raised a similar concern against the holding of the election on grounds that it was unconstitutional.Rep. Lawrence’s lead lawyer, Cllr. Cooper Kruah, had argued that the lawmakers’ action to hold the election contradicted Article 49 of the 1986 Constitution.Article 49 states: “The House of Representative shall elect once every six years a Speaker who shall be the presiding officer of that body, a Deputy Speaker, and such other officers as shall ensure the proper functioning of the House. The Speaker, the Deputy Speaker and other officers so elected may be removed from office for cause by resolution of a two-thirds majority of the members of the House.”Cllr. Kruah in his argument said Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue, who was then next in line, should have been elected as Speaker to complete Tyler’s remaining six years without any election.In counter argument, Cllr. Beyan Howard, who represented the lawmakers pressing for the election, said his clients were not proceeding wrongly to hold the election.Cllr. Howard argued that they acted in line with Rules 10.1 adopted by the House of Representative.Rules 10.1 provides that “When the office of the Speaker shall become vacant by reason of removal, death, resignation, inability or other disabilities the Deputy Speaker shall act as Speaker until a new speaker is elected within Sixty days. And when the Speaker is absent from session, the Deputy Speaker shall act in accordance With Rule 8.1 and 8.2. In the absence of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker such Member of the House as the House may elect for that purpose shall preside. Such member shall be known as ‘Speaker Pro-Tempore.’”Also, article 38 of the 1986 Constitution provides that “Each House shall adopt its own rules of procedure, enforce order and with the concurrence of two-thirds of the entire membership, may expel a member for cause. Each House shall establish its own committees and sub-committees; provided, however, that the committees on revenues and appropriations shall consist of one member from each County. All rules adopted by the Legislature shall conform to the requirements of due process of law laid down in this Constitution.”According to Howard, Rule 47 of the House also provides that “Any member who claimed that their right is violated should subsequently submit a written communication to the Chairman of rules, orders and administration.”Cllr. Howard claimed that Rep. Lawrence failed to take advantage of that provision, but went to the Supreme Court, which was a complete violation of the proceedings at the House.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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Dealing With the Razzmatazz and Euphoria of Mount Coffee Hydropower Plant

first_imgNational debates must be characterized by patriotism, sincerity and substance. We must hold our leaders accountable by what they say they will do for the people. We must never run away from speaking the truth even if it hurts. The debate surrounding Mount Coffee Hydropower Plant is becoming increasingly interesting and I thought to weigh in from where I sit. This is just an initial analysis, but I shall endeavor to publish a full column of my thoughts in due course. Liberia is a functionally illiterate society besieged by mediocrity, self-pity, neglect and penury. Every small development in Liberia appears like a discovery of a diamond mine or a deposit of gold, even if it is overdue. This is what happens when a group of hopeless and choiceless people have been smuggled into the wilderness of uncertainty and degradation as a result of bad governance and leadership-deficit. This is what happens when basic social services (electricity, housing, health, safe drinking water, quality education, etc.) are yet too far as a result of greed and corruption. This is what happens when a nation is rich, but poor in terms of development. A few days ago, the “big light” 22 megawatts hydropower was switched on after 11 years. Is this project worth commendation? Yes, it does. Before premising my thoughts, I would like to commend President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and our partners, especially the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the European Investment Bank, the German and Norwegian Governments for such a laudable initiative. At least a portion of Monrovia will have access to hydropower after more than a decade. This 22 megawatts hydropower plant appears to be the biggest achievement of Madam President since 2006. Wowwww!!!After almost 12 years, just 18 communities in Monrovia will benefit from this 22 megawatts hydropower. A Junior Minister of the government called me and said “Martin, are you aware that the hydro is finally on? Doesn’t this call for a national celebration?” I said, “No, it doesn’t, but such project is laudable.” Another official of government said “A promise finally fulfilled and this ends the debate of the opposition.” As I browsed through series of reactions since the 22mgw hydropower was dedicated, I thought to deal with the razzmatazz and euphoria of the Mount Coffee Hydropower Plant in Harrisburg, Montserrado County. For the sake of our readership, let me succinctly define both razzmatazz and euphoria:1. Razzmatazz is a noisy and noticeable activity, intended to attract attention.2. Euphoria is a feeling or state of intense excitement and happiness.The atmosphere in Monrovia has been clouded with wild excitement by a lot of pro-regime protégés and apprentices of falsehood. Such euphoria being amplified is nothing but a gimmick, only meant to pacify our already poverty-stricken population. In pretense, some of them are even attempting to convince us that the 22 megawatts hydropower is the remedy to the socioeconomic misery of the Liberian people.So, they expect us to jubilate all day long with our hands up in prolonged applause even though most Liberian businesses are currently at risk due to the hike in taxes. The day Monrovia will reach up to Dakar, Accra, Abidjan, Johannesburg, Cairo, Kigali and Harare as a result of hydropower distribution, then it means that we will have to declare a national holiday. How I hope 25 percent of our population could briefly travel to Johannesburg or Kigali and return home. President John Magufuli of Tanzania has built 1,423 industries so far after spending just one (1) year in power. Why aren’t Tanzanians celebrating all day or all year long?Because they know that it is the responsibility of the government to promote public welfare. In Liberia, promoting public welfare through basic social services is perceived as a form of favor from the government to the people. This is what they (public officials) have made our people to believe. As a result, when little progress is made, they expect us to keep clapping and celebrating all year long. No, no, no, we cannot razzmatazz when there is one (1) good to ninety-nine (99) bad. We cannot overly celebrate when the demerits are more than the merits after almost 12 years. We cannot leap into the state of prolonged euphoria just for a 22 megawatts hydropower that cannot even produce electricity for the entire Monrovia. What happens to those living in the other 14 counties? The 22 megawatts hydropower commissioned and dedicated by President Sirleaf is not a promise fulfilled. The fact is that this government has received so much and has done so little. The achievements of this government are far less than its non-achievements. In 2005, before her ascendancy to the presidency, Madam Aspirant Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf promised to electrify Monrovia and its environs in six months; unfortunately after 11 years, this promise is yet to be fulfilled. It was on the basis of this promise that President Sirleaf’s candidature received an overwhelming support in 2005. All we now see after 132 months in power is a 22 megawatts hydropower plant. Isn’t this a promise betrayed? Of course, it is a promise betrayed because Monrovia is still rated as one of the darkest capital cities in the world after 11 years. In fact, during Liberia’s 169th Independence Day celebration in July 2006, President Sirleaf promised “Big Light” before leaving office. With less than 13 months to the end of her regime, is the 22 megawatts hydropower the “Big Light” President Sirleaf promised? Is this the big light that can only provide hydroelectric power for only 18 communities in Monrovia? I thought they told us that the“Big Light” would have electrified our entire country. What is even puzzling is that Liberia is spending US$357 million to rehabilitate a hydropower plant of 88 megawatts in 11 years while neighboring Guinea spent US$526 million to construct a hydropower plant of 240 megawatts in less than 4 years. Liberia’s hydroelectric rehabilitation project is too costly both in currency and time with less unit of power. In the case of Guinea, the hydro was constructed (and not rehabilitated) with lesser amount (US$526 million) as compared to Liberia with more unit of power (240 megawatts) in a limited period (less than 4 years). With all these glaring realities, they expect us to razzmatazz and jubilate all year long. No, we cannot!! All we can do is to appreciate the government and its partners for a step forward. Furthermore, in a bid to be reelected in 2011, Africa’s first female President signed an official contract with all Liberians through a solemn pledge consisting of twenty (20) promises. These were Madam Sirleaf’s exact words to all Liberians during the campaign period in 2011.“Our Pledge to you fellow countrymen is that if you entrust us with another 6 years, we will do the following:1. Create no fewer than 20,000 jobs (short and long term) every year for the next 6 years.2. Ensure that Mount Coffee Hydro Plant is fully rehabilitated and made functional (100 percent).3. Roberts International Airport is modernized and brought to International standards.4. Connect all county capitals with paved roads.5. Ensure that Liberian businesses have increased access to finance.6. Ensure that each county has a technical and vocational training center.7. Increase the salary of teachers and health workers, especially those working in rural areas.8. Provide more support to farmers to increase local capacity, especially those working in rural areas.9. Invest in activities that enhance true reconciliation.10. Continue to ensure that our people are safe.11. Ensure double digit growth rate to address poverty.12. Ensure that nationals have equity in relevant national assets13. Expand banking services to all counties.14. Continue the fight against corruption with emphasis on punishment.15. Complete plans for new capital at Zekepa.16. Build bridges to connect counties.17. Ensure all government agencies are in public buildings.18. Continue to expand neighborhoods and farm to market roads.19. Complete community colleges in all counties.20. Construct 3 regional sport academies.Even the second promise is yet to be fulfilled after a second term. Just 25 percent (22 megawatts out of 88 megawatts) of Mount Coffee Hydro Project has been completed. Must we Razzmatazz even though none of these promises is yet to be fulfilled in full or 100 percent? Have we connected all county capitals with paved roads? Have we created the 100,000 jobs since 2012? Where are the plans for our new capital at Zekepa? Where are the 3 regional sports academies? Have we completed community colleges in all counties? Are all government agencies in public buildings? Are banking services available in all counties? Where is the technical and vocational center in each county?It is unfortunate that our leaders want the entire world to believe that our thirst for genuine change in Liberia has been quenched as a result of the dedication of the 22 megawatts hydropower project. No, no, no…that’s not true. If Liberia must make genuine progress, we must not shy away from the hardcore facts. We must be willing to add value to our discourse by demonstrating sincerity and patriotism. Even if we are aligned with the power that be, the truth must be said. If we decide to euphorically razzmatazz about every small progress after a prolonged period, we harm our nation further by energizing complacency and undermining the snail-paced development of our country. Amid of all of these, I still remain hopeful that we can rise above this level beyond 2017. It is possible to even electrify the entire country (Liberia) in less than 4 years after 2017 elections if political will is demonstrated at all levels. An all-inclusive CHANGE is possible in Liberia through patriotism, transparency and accountability. From the largest slum of West Point and the top of Ducor, I see a new Liberia rising above the African continent. About the Author: Martin K. N. Kollie is a Liberian youth activist, a student leader, an emerging economist and a young writer. He currently studies Economics with distinction the University of Liberia and is a loyal stalwart of the Student Unification Party (SUP). He can be reached at martinkerkula1989@yahoo.comShare this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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Fishermen Protest Executive Order #84

first_imgMembers of a fishing crew pulling in the catch of the day at a local beachAn association of small scale fishermen and women from nine coastal counties under the banner of the Liberia Artisanal Fishermen Association (LAFA) has expressed disappointment with Executive Order 84, issued by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.Executive Order 84 reduces Liberia’s Inshore Exclusion Zone (IEZ) from six nautical miles to three, and is among other measures aimed at revitalizing commercial and semi-industrial fishing in Liberia.The group, with a reported membership of 350,000 and headquartered in West Point, said in a letter to House Speaker J. Emmanuel Nuquay, which was read in Tuesday’s session, that Executive Order 84 is not in the their best interest.“This decision has the propensity to create serious hardship on the already poor and struggling artisanal (small scale) fishermen,” stated the letter under the signatures of Mr. Jerry N. Blamo, the Secretary General, and President Nyantee Sleh Sr.“Moreover, with respect to the 2010 Fisheries Regulation that brought the West Africa Regional Fisheries Project (WARFP) to Liberia, the executive order undermines government’s commitment to the next five years of the WARFP project. In 2010, the fisheries regulation was approved to regulate the sector and to restrict the inshore-exclusive zone (IEZ),” the letter said.It added: “Honorable Speaker, in putting this regulation into action, stakeholder consultative meetings were held and all stakeholders from various institutions, including the West Africa Regional Fisheries Project (WARFP) and the international communities, participated in these meetings, which brought to being the fisheries regulation.”Members of the House of Representatives have voted unanimously for the letter to be forwarded to the leadership and to meet with the President, because of the gravity of the complaint, which involves the livelihoods of 350,000 fishermen and women who are from nine coastal counties, namely: Grand Cape Mount, Bomi, Montserrado, Margibi, Grand Bassa, Rivercess, Sinoe, Grand Kru and Maryland counties.Executive Order 84Executive Order 84 quoted Article 7 of the Constitution in which it made reference to the equitable management of Liberia’s natural resources so as to advance the general welfare of the people and the economic development of the country.The Order said the fishery resources of Liberia have been underutilized for over a decade and the government intends to encourage investment in the sector to ensure the sustainable development and utilization of its natural resources.It said in furtherance of its intentions to start sustainably utilizing its fishery resources, the government has recognized that the Bureau of National Fisheries, a unit under the Ministry of Agriculture, needs to be granted an autonomous status to enable it meet up with the demands of the fishing industry, and reduce the government’s bureaucracy around the process of obtaining a fishing license.The government has therefore initiated a process to pass legislation to transform the Bureau of National Fisheries to an autonomous agency of government charged with the responsibility of managing and developing Liberia’s fishery resources, which would eventually attract investment and expand Liberia’s fisheries and aquaculture sectors.The Order further said the Liberian government is cognizant of the lengthy process involved with passing said legislation, and realizes the need to institute an interim measure to ensure that Liberia begins the process of reforming its fisheries sector.In view of the foregoing, President Sirleaf issued an interim measure until such time the National Fisheries Act is enacted into law thus establishing an autonomous fisheries agency.The Order granted the Maritime Authority complete supervisory and fiscal authority of the Bureau of National Fisheries and Liberia’s fishery resources pending the enactment of the National Fisheries Act. This authority, she said, shall include the promulgation of regulations, guidelines, fees and the granting of licenses and authorizations for the sustainable utilization and management of Liberia’s fishery resources.In its application, the Order charged the LMA to ensure that the objective is implemented, with the following measures in place:“Supervisory and fiscal responsibilities over the Fisheries Sector…of the Bureau of National Fisheries shall now come under the full and complete control of the Liberia Maritime Authority; that the Inshore Exclusive Zone (IEZ) as established by the Fisheries Regulations of 2010 is hereby reduced from 6 nautical miles to 3 nautical miles. This is to ensure that industrial and semi-industrial fishing can restart and again become viable. That fishing vessels below 500 gross tons shall be exempt from all APM Terminal and other port charges; that the cumulative stock of fishery resources to be harvested shall not exceed 100,000 metric tons per annum; and that the Bureau of National Fisheries, under the supervision of the Liberia Maritime Authority, will issue and publish revised guidelines and fiscal regime for obtaining Fishery License.”Meanwhile, a UK-based non-profit organization, the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), has also frowned on the government for the Executive Order which aims to revitalize commercial and semi-industrial fishing in Liberia. However, the government has termed as “inaccurate” EJF’s interpretation of Executive Order 84.According to a Ministry of Information press release, contrary to what the EJF asserts through its media campaign, the revitalization of commercial and semi-industrial fishing will, in no way, cause a drop in fish supplies to the local market but would rather lead to an increase.The new guidelines, the release said, will be published before any new license is issued, and will ensure all fishing vessels take all catch in Liberia to the local market; and will lead to the consequent reduction in fish imports from Sierra Leone and other countries. Liberia currently imports nearly 50,000 metric tons of fish per year.The release said the economic benefits from the domestic harvesting of fish rather than importing of fish will help the country’s balance of payment and the foreign exchange situation; and the benefit will help the country, including artisanal fishermen.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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