23 November 2017

Liberia: U.S.$50 Million Japanese Funded Somalia Drive Road Project Under Threat

The US$50 million Japanese funded Gardnesville Somalia Drive Road currently under construction is under threat due to 'legal harassment' from a local company (KNZ Corporation).

The KNZ Corporation in March 2017 sued two companies Dai Nippon Construction Company (DNC) and World Kaihatsu Kogyo (WKK) hired by the Japanese and Liberian Governments to do the construction work.

KNZ Corporation represented by its Managing Director, Zein Jaffal in a lawsuit for summary proceeding to recovery possession of real property asked the Civil Law Court to evict, oust and eject the two construction companies from a real property that currently house their employees on grounds that a 3-year sublease agreement entered into with the companies for the use of the property have elapsed.

Cllr. Arthur Johnson lawyer of the companies in a legal memorandum stated: "A sublease agreement was entered into between the both parties on March 6, 2014. Movants (Companies) say that after it entered into the sublease for the respondent's property (KNZ Corporation) for the purpose of constructing the Somalia Drive Road as an effort to implement the US$50,000,000 Japanese Grant to the people of Liberia and that was the result of a bilateral grant agreement between the Governments of Liberia and Japan to pave the Gardnersville Road to a four (4) lane road; this desire by the two governments has been impeded by the act of legal harassment by the local company in attempting to impede the project."

Cllr. Johnson said public policy will not allow the action of the local company to evict, oust and eject the Japanese Companies from the premises because the sore purpose of the lease agreement between the parties was for the stay of the companies on the premises for the construction of the Somalia Drive Road Project and the direct beneficiaries of the said project are the people of Liberia and the Government of Liberia.

Cllr. Johnson said even though the companies entered into a sublease agreement with the local company for the period of three years starting from 2014-2017 paying an amount of US$117,000; Liberia was hit by Ebola forcing an abrupt halt to the companies operation for the period of one year six month.

Additionally he said, during the execution of the sublease agreement in 2014 there was a clause that states that incase of natural disaster (Ebola & other epidemic) the lease agreement will be extended under the doctrine of force majeure. "Based on Ebola outbreak that took one year six month to end; it means that the sublease agreement should be extended up to March 2018 and not 2017."

"Wherefore and in view of the foregoing, Movant prays the court to grant our motion for summary judgment by dismissing the petition summary proceeding to recovery possession of real property and order that the Movant is entitle to possessory right for the one year and six month period of the force majeure beginning from March of 2017 to September 2018, meaning that Ebola and the state of emergency was declared in August 6, 2014 which in June the respondents have left Liberia for fear of Ebola and in June 9, 2016 Who declare the country free of the disease," he stated.

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