15 November 2012

Liberia: Chinese Contractors Get Three-Week Ultimatum

Local authorities in Bong County have given the Liberia-China Investment Group a three weeks ultimatum to resume construction works on the proposed Gboveh Community College in Gbarnga. Bong County Legislative Caucus Chair Representative George Mulbah said the action is in response to the abandonment of the project by the construction company.

He said the county and the Liberia-China Investment Group have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, which compels the latter to actively resume the works or have the contract terminated. Hon. Mulbah also said contractors at the site risks court action if the three weeks deadline expired.

He wonders why the firm that has already received over US$4 million towards the college construction project would choose to play trick with the Bong County people. Hon. Mulbah has vowed to collaborate with security apparatus to confiscate the company's assets in Monrovia if it refused to adhere to the three-week ultimatum. The Bong County Lawmaker said the people of Bong would not allow anyone to compromise their interest, especially when a lot of citizens are awaiting the completion of the college to enable them enroll.

The Gboveh Community College project, which started in November 2010, was scheduled to have been concluded in November 2011, but was delayed by the contractor until President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf banned the usage of the county social development fund due to several GAC reports, indicting authorities of the county for mismanaging funds or royalties being provided by concessionaires as social benefits. However, some local contractors at the construction site complained that some members of the Bong County Legislative Caucus request cash and construction materials from the company for their own use, but the authorities said this is far from the truth.

Last month, Bong County Superintendent Selena Polson Mappay ordered the detention of some of the Chinese contractors for delaying the construction project. The Chinese were held at the Gbarnga police station for more than seven hours before they were released during evening hours.

Superintendent Mappay said the action was intended to pressurize the company to expedite the project. Construction cost for the Gboveh Community College, which is to include staff quarters, dormitories for students and academic hall, was initially estimated at US$7.4 million, but authorities of the county later somersaulted and said the project estimate has increased to US$7.9 million, reflecting an increment US$500,000.

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