30 May 2014

Liberia: PW Minister in Hot Waters

Photo: FrontPage Africa
Ministry of Public Works Minister Madame Antoinette Weeks

Public Works Minister Antoinette Weeks is expected to face hard-hitting questions from senators on Tuesday when she appears before them regarding the way the Ministry is functioning.

"This Minister feels she is a super Minster," said Senator Dan Morais, Senator Maryland County.

Angry Senators lead by Senator Morais on yesterday let the cat out of the bag, when they voted unanimously to summon Madam Dr. Antoinette Weeks, next Tuesday to show cause, why she should not be held in contempt for impeding legislative functions for months.

The road to Grand Kru and Sinoe are bad," said Senator Peter Coleman of Grand Kru. "How do we expect our guests to drive on that road for the pending July 26, 2014 celebrations? This is unacceptable."

Senator Morais in a two-page communication to the Senate said on March 13, 2013, he personally wrote Madam Weeks seeking clarity on the Loan Agreement between Liberia and the African Development Bank for the pavement of the Harper-Fishtown Highway. Several attempts seeking appointments to meet her have failed. Additionally, he said during one of his diplomatic shuttle to the United Kingdom, the issue of bribery at the Ministry of Public Works for signing certificates for the work completed by a British company was brought to his attention.

"Mr. Robert Curzon-Jones in the presence of two members of the UKL parliament confronted me. I demanded documentation in support of Mr. Curzon-Jones allegation and upon receipt of same, I wrote the Minister on August 1, 2013," he narrated in his communication.

"On March 18, 2014, I wrote the Minister as Chairman on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations because of the negative image of Liberia presented to me by members of the DFID, British Parliament and coupled with a letter addressed to Hon. Justine Greening, Cabinet Minister of State for DFID," he intoned.

Since then, the Senator said, the Minister was yet to respond. The reading of the communication generated hash reactions across the floor with several senators expressing similar posture of the Minister. "This woman is very arrogant and needs to be taught a lesson," one Senator said yesterday. Sources in the House of Representatives also hinted the New Democrat that the House has also summoned the Minister over her attitude to lawmakers and delay in getting projects started.

Months ago, Dr. Antoinette Weeks showed up for work almost midday and caused a stir at the ministry, keeping President Ellen Johnson Sireaf waiting for hours. With Liberia in need of infrastructural development including roads, bridges, amongst others, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is racing against time, facing a massive headache to tackle head-on her reconstruction agenda.

Those plans however are being derailed because the Ministry of Public Works, spearheading the reconstruction process is in complete disarray due to the performance of the new minister, experts have alluded. Since taking over, acrimonious communications and other disagreements have existed between the Minister and other principal officials of Ministry souring the internal working relationship at the Ministry.

Employees and officials of the Government of Liberia as per law of Liberia are to work for 8 hours daily but despite the established working hours, many officials fail to show up at work on time.

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