Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan at the head of a six-man Liberian delegation has concluded a weeklong visit to Turkey with the donation of twenty (20) buses to the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC) by the City of Istanbul, Turkey.
A Foreign Ministry dispatch discloses that out of the 20 buses, four buses will be given to the Liberia National Police (LNP) while one goes to the Paynesville City Corporation (PCC). A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) making the donation a reality was signed on Thursday, May 15, 2014 at a colorful ceremony held in Istanbul, Turkey.
Monrovia City Mayor Mrs. Clara Doe Mvogo signed for the MCC while Mr. Mimin Kahveci, Deputy General Manager of the Istanbul Electric Tramway, and Tunnel (IETT) General Directorate signed on behalf of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality.
According to the MOU, the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality will provide assorted spare parts for the buses over a one-year period and also dispatch a three-man technical team (one mechanic, an electrician and driver) from the IETT (the company responsible for public transportation in Istanbul) to Monrovia to conduct onsite training for a period of one month following the arrival of the buses in Liberia.
The donation of the 20 buses is a result of the sister-city relations between Monrovia and Istanbul that was agreed upon in 2013.
Foreign Minister Ngafuan who witnessed the signing ceremony on behalf of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the Government and People of Liberia as well as the citizens of Monrovia expressed sincere thanks to the Mayor and all the members of the municipality of Istanbul, the Turkish Ambassador to Liberia and the people of Turkey for what he described as a great donation to Liberia.
"Since our arrival in Turkey, we have held many productive and mutually rewarding meetings in Ankara and in Istanbul, but obviously this ceremony tonight is the crowning moment because it is a concrete
demonstration of strong partnership. These buses will bring relief to a good number of Liberian students, workers, marketers, and ordinary people who huddle on the streets for hours looking for means to go to or from school, work, market or elsewhere.", the Liberian Foreign Minister stated.
Speaking through an interpreter during the signing ceremony, Mr. Ibrahim Kapaklikaya, Deputy Secretary General of the Istanbul Municipality, said, "With the signing of the MOU between IETT and the City of Monrovia, we have finally concluded the legal process of delivering the buses."
Mr. Kapaklikaya said he sincerely hopes the buses will serve the intended purpose in Monrovia, as the gesture was a positive beginning that will lead to stronger and broader cooperation between the two cities.
"The Mayor of Istanbul, who could not attend this ceremony due to some unavoidable reasons, attaches great importance to Liberia and the donation is a clear manifestation of this interest", Mr. Kapaklikaya stressed. For her part, Monrovia City Mayor Clara Doe Mvogo thanked the Mayor and people of Istanbul and the Government of Turkey for the donation.
"When people see those buses coming and when we have said who is giving them to us, they will always remember the friendship of the people of Turkey, not just Istanbul", Mayor Doe Mvogo said.
She revealed that she and Minister Ngafuan including the rest of the delegation were moved by the gesture because it means a lot to the ordinary citizens of Liberia who could not be at the signing ceremony. She revealed when she got on the buses and saw the inscription 'From the City of Istanbul to the City of Monrovia' she became very excited.
"I was really emotional; that's why I cried because I could see the parents who will get on the buses and the school children who desperately need them", the MCC boss added.
Meanwhile, the City Mayor of Ankara, Melih Gokcek, has expressed his city's willingness to establish sister-city relations with Monrovia. Mayor Gokcek made the disclosure on Tuesday, May 13, 2014 at a reception he tendered in honor of the Liberian delegation visiting Turkey headed by Foreign Minister Augustine Ngafuan.
Modalities for the formal establishment of the sister-city relationship are expected to be worked out by the city mayors of Ankara and Monrovia working closely with the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of both countries.
In a related development, the Turkish International Cooperation Agency (TIKA) says it will provide two (2) dump-trucks to the Government of Liberia for use by the Paynesville City Corporation.
Paynesville City Mayor Cyvette Gibson, who was also on the delegation to Turkey, welcomed the gesture and said the two trucks will help boost her administration's efforts to keep Paynesville City clean and healthy.