Liberia: President Quizzes Ministry On Road Rehab Projects

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Monday morning, May 10, 2010, paid a surprised visit at the Ministry of Public Works and quizzed officials of the Ministry on progress made on the rehabilitation of major feeder roads around the capital.
The President asked the Ministry for an update on the Bardnesville Estate, Pipeline and Logan Town road rehabilitation, and also discussed the General Auditing Commission (GAC) audit report of the Ministry and other agencies of government, according to the spokesman of the Ministry, Jesefu M. Keita, who brief journalists shortly after the President’s departure.
The President’s spontaneous visit, he said, coincided with the Ministry’s regular senior management team meeting which comes up every Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings.
“Quite frankly, we were taken by surprise, but later on we appreciated it, especially where she participated in our senior staff meeting and raised several issues regarding rehabilitation work on Bardnersville, Pipeline and Logan Town roads…”said Keita.
In the meeting, President Sirleaf lauded the Ministry for the level of work being done across the country and urged it to keep it up, he told journalists.
Mr. Keita said Assistant Minister William Sloh provided updates on the road rehabilitation works.
According to the PRO, the Assistant Minister informed the President and the meeting that active works were continuing on the roads.
He said significant work has been done on the Bardnersville road in particular, and more actions would be visible next week.
Information gathered by this paper suggest that  residents of the area Bardnersville area have already begun expressing frustration that rehabilitation works of the road has run into the rainy season, with more work yet to be done.
Many residents in Bardnersville Estate claim they are yet to benefit from the many road rehabilitation taking place across the country including Monrovia and its environments, since the inception of the Sirleaf-led government.
Early February some of them told the Informer that they were somewhat happy because the Ministry of Public Work had begun working on the road.
They called for the work to be done speedily before the rains set in, but Public Works Minister Samuel Kofi Woods, II, told journalists, then, that road rehabilitation work could not be done speedily, if it must be done properly.
‘We understand their anxieties their concerns, but we need to build durable roads, and because we want to build durable roads, we will not do fast track the process as they wish,’ the Infrastructure Minister argued.
The Ministry has already sealed pot holes and other damaged parts of the road leading from Bardnersville Junction (Somalia Drive) to deep into Digsville, going towards Caldwell.
However, no work has been done on the stretch leading from the Bend and Stop Community to the main government-built housing Estate that hosts tens of thousands of people.
The stretch of road from bend & Stop to the Estate is covered with multiple pot holes that cause difficulties for vehicular movement, preventing several commercial vehicles from going into the Estate and causing transport problems for the people there.
“I am sure that be next week, the ministry’s technicians will begin work on the road leading from Bend & Stop to the Estate,” Keita disclosed yesterday. “That place is terrible and our team will be attacking the area hopefully next week,” he added.
He said while work is ongoing on the Bardnersville road, some pedestrians were causing problems for workers. “Unfortunately,” he lamented, “we had an incident there recently when one of the Public Works employees was arrested and imprisoned.”
He said things went out of hand when the technician moved to stop a pedestrian who undid a blockade intended to facilitate the road reconstruction, “but that issues has been resolved and work is proceeding as we speak.”
On the issue of the GAC report, Mr. Keita said President Sirleaf, during the discussion, realized that there were some financial improprieties in government.
“The President also discusses the issue of the GAC report; indeed, she realized that there are some fraudulent activities including crooked account and payments,” the Ministry’s spokesman disclosed, but said the Liberian leader was speaking in general term and not referring to a particular ministry or agency.
According to him, the President also advised the Ministry, like every other agencies of government, to properly document financial records.
In response, Minister Woods told President Sirleaf that the Ministry, under his administration, has put into place a robust internal audit department and the department has put forth series of recommendations aimed at establishing a stronger fiscal discipline and control mechanism.
The Minister further informed the President that USAID has provided several computers to the Ministry to help improve its financial management system through an automated system.
USAID has also promised to provide the necessary software for the system.
“I like to declare here that the President’s visit here is a moral booster for the Ministry of Public Works. It is not just her visit, but her participation in our senior staff meeting,” Kieta noted.

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Author: D K Sengbeh

Danicius Kaihenneh Sengbeh (author of Sengbeh's Weblog) is a respected and renowned Liberian journalist, poet and writer with with journalism experience since 2001, of working both as a mainstream journalist and a communication/media consultant in Liberia. He is Secretary General of the Press Union of Liberia (elected Dec 2013). He was Assistant Secretary General of the Union Dec 2011 to Dec 2013. He is also Editor-In-Chief of The Informer Newspaper—one of Liberia’s credible dailies. Before joining the Informer, Danicius had served as reporter, chief reporter, sub-editor and News Editor at The Independent Newspaper between 2002 and 2006. Before then, he was reporter at the defunct Patriot Newspaper and Kiss FM 2001-2002. Danicius is a UN Media Fellow and Liberia’s first UN Medal Award-winning journalist for his contribution to journalism and for being the second Liberian journalist in 15 years to qualify for and successfully attended the United Nations’ Reham Al-Farra Memorial Journalist Fellowship Program in New York and Geneva, Switzerland in 2012. He earned a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Mass Communication and Sociology from the University of Liberia and a Diploma in Journalism from the International School of Journalism. He holds several awards and recognitions both in and outside of journalism, and carries dozens of certificates in journalism and communication from studies in Ghana, China, United States and Switzerland, among others. He volunteers as Chair of the Information and Communication Committee of his local Bardnersville community. He can be quickly reached via (+231) 886586531/777586531/777464018/ dakasen1978@yahoo.com

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