Contract workers of the Beaches & Waterways Project in New Kru Town have said that they are able to care for their families with the meager salaries they earn from the project.Interviews conducted at the conclusion of the disbursement of four months of arrears at the First International Bank branch on Bushrod Island in Monrovia last week revealed that through the project they are able to provide life’s basic necessities for their families.The contractors said despite the tension in the wake of the Christmas season, the FiBank on Bushrod Island understood their anxieties and worked with them to get their arrears, even after the festive season. “I have been with the project for the last three years,” said an older woman, who identified herself as Anita Doe, “I am able to find food and do a little selling for myself.”Another female worker and a widow, identified only as Ms. Togba, said she is a grandmother of five children. “It is through this work that I care for them and myself.”Many of the young women workers said they are single parents who don’t have any financial support other than what they earn from working with the Beaches & Waterways Project. A majority of the young workers are students, some at various universities, including the University of Liberia.The project now has a total number of 1,701, from a previous total of 1,900. The Borough of New Kru Town has 550 workers, according to Senior Monitor for New Kru Town and Chairman of the Project, Android Young Jr.Young said there are 435 workers from West Point, 335 from ELWA and 381 from Mamba Point.He said the project has made positive impact on the lives of the workers and they are grateful to President Sirleaf, through Mr. Binyah Kesselly (Commissioner, Liberia Maritime Authority), for initiating the project to reclaim Monrovia’s beaches that were polluted with human waste. Young told the Daily Observer in an interview at the Beaches and Waterways Project that the project could not have come at a better time, and expressed the workers’ appreciation to President Sirleaf, Commissioner Binyah Kesselly and former project manager Cecelia Cuffy-Brown for the initiative, and how it has been handled.Commissioner Kesselly had described the project as “reclaiming our beaches one community at a time.”President Sirleaf declared that she “wants to make Liberia a maritime nation by keeping our beaches clean, healthy and attractive” through the Beaches & Waterways Project. The project now has an annual budget to be managed by the Ministry of Youth & Sports.The army of contract workers has helped reclaim Monrovia’s beaches and also reduced a number of preventable diseases in slum communities, residents told the Daily Observer.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Sparendaam land probeWednesday’s questioning of former members of Cabinet under the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) regarding the sale and transfer of lands located in Sparendaam, East Coast Demerara, popularly known as “Pradoville 2” is paving the way for the Opposition to take actions against Government for various transgressions over the past three years.This is according to Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo at his weekly press conference on Thursday. He told media operatives that the former Ministers were mainly asked about a $13 million road development contract and about their knowledge of property vesting laws.According to Jagdeo, he is happy with the course that the probe is taking.“[There is] duplicity here but they’re digging a deep hole for themselves… Trust me, they don’t know what they have done,” Jagdeo asserted.Insisting that the prolonged probe is only a political gimmick used to distract the public whenever Government is on its “back foot”, the Opposition Leader maintained that he will not settle the matter and will “fight it in court”.Jadgeo along with other former Cabinet Ministers were summoned to SOCU headquarters on Wednesday for further questioning into the ‘Pradoville 2’ probe. While Jagdeo did not show up, he indicated that he will be working out an appropriate timing with SOCU.Nevertheless, among those questioned on Wednesday were former Public Works Minister Robeson Benn, former Amerindian Affairs Minister Pauline Sukhai, former Labour Minister Manzoor Nadir, as well as former Education Minister Priya Manickchand.The coalition Administration is contending the acquisition of lands in the area by former Government officials is a criminal act because of the belief that it was sold below market value. Since then, several former Government officials have been questioned by SOCU and according to some, it is becoming “harassment”.Nevertheless, Jagdeo revealed that Wednesday’s line of questioning has opened another avenue for the Opposition to take action against Government, particularly with regards to the $150 million contract that was singled sourced to a Dutch company.Based on a complaint from the Opposition, the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) had probed and found that the sole-sourcing of the contract, which Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson got approved by Cabinet, to LievenseCSO for the feasibility study of the new Demerara River bridge had breach the procurement laws. The Opposition has since sent the matter to SOCU for it to be further investigated and actions taken.Jagdeo explained that previously, they would have only been able to go after the Patterson for bypassing the tender laws and taking the unsolicited bid to Cabinet. However, he noted that Cabinet members usually hide under the lid of collective responsibility, but now, SOCU has lifted that veil to individual responsibilities of individual ministers.“Now each Minister who sat in Cabinet when the illegal contract was approved can now be charged; not only Patterson. So each of those persons in Cabinet now will be open to questioning… The Public Procurement Commission investigated this, they found it illegal that somebody got a contract that they shouldn’t have for $150 million. So that when this is investigated now by SOCU, they now have to invite every single member of this Cabinet to ask them about this contract [and] whether they were aware that the procurement laws didn’t give them a right to approve such a contract, including President Granger. In a way, this new twist will allow us to resolve us another issue,” he posited.The Opposition Leader went on to say that Cabinet also broke the law when it approved the contract since it has no right of approval.“We removed that right when we passed new procurement laws for Guyana. Cabinet, now under our laws, only has a no objection role so the Cabinet acted illegally when they approved Patterson’s unsolicited bid that he took to them,” he contended.Former President Jagdeo also went on to outline that despite making claims of the PPP stealing about $28-35 billion annually, in the three years the coalition has been in Government, Pradoville is their biggest find of alleged corruption.On the other hand, Jagdeo said that over the past three years the PPP has gathered a lot of evidence of corruption against this current Administration but efforts to get justice against those responsible Ministers have been met with hurdles such as the Director of Public Prosecution’s nolle prosing criminal charges against five Ministers. To this end, Jagdeo expressed the hope that the SOCU probe against Minister Patterson would not be delayed, adding it is a straight forward matter.