A NewDawn's investigation has established that the National Elections Commission or NEC has awarded a US$1. 9 Million contract to a local car rental company to provide transportation to its various centers for the ongoing Voters Roll Update exercise.
The NEC Wednesday confirmed to this paper that it has awarded the contract to the Efficient Logistics Services to provide 200 vehicles for the Voters Roll Update, which is supposed to last for forty-five (45) days. The Commission has defended such huge spending on car rentals, saying that elections are expensive.
The National Elections Commission recently announced January 29 to March 21 as the new schedule for the start of the Voter Roll Update Exercise after initially suspending the process due to budgetary delay.
NEC Chairman Cllr. Jerome George Korkoya said the decision followed negotiations with relevant government institutions, including the Public Procurement Concession Commission, which granted waiver to the Commission to allow it awards a contract for the hiring of vehicles needed for the deployment of materials and personnel to conduct the Voters Roll Update Exercise.
The US$1.9Million for car rental has sparked serious public debate here with some saying spending such huge among only on car rental for just forty-five days is not a wise decision.
Critics say instead, the Commission should have bought some vehicles that it could use in the pending Special Senatorial Election in October and in future elections than renting commercial vehicles which is not sustainable.
But four senior officials of the NEC, including Chairman Korkoya, Co-Chair Sarah Toe, Commissioner Jonathan K. Weedor, and Commissioner Jeanette A. Ebba Dividson have justified the action.
"If we need to spend US$3 million on car rental, we will spend it, because elections are expensive and we have no regret for doing anything of such," Commissioner Jonathan K. Weedor told this paper.
"We are independent Commission here and we are not answerable to anybody, so you shouldn't come here and question us about how we spend money here," Commissioner Jeanette A. Ebba Dividson retorted.
For her part, Co-Chair Cllr. Sarah Doe said the NEC will not follow any pattern of other governmental entity, saying "We cannot do what every Tom, Dick and Harris is doing around here; we are about to have a very important election, so we will not joke about our functions here." Chairman Korkoya defended: "This is the company that we dealt with before, that is why we gave them the contract; in fact, they were the ones that won the bid and the PPCC process was followed."
Efficient Logistics Services is a major partner of UNDP, UNICEF, and the Government of Liberia.