Zota District — Information provided by Rep. Robert Womba at a public event in Zota District last month that he is personally funding a US$80,000 bridge project in Shankpalai, Zota District has been rebuffed by the chairman of the Project Management Committee of Bong County, Steve Mulbah. Rep. Womba has continued to tout the bridge construction to his list of achievements since his ascendency as lawmaker three years ago.
The lawmaker told journalists last month that it was his own initiative he is funding. He said his move to construct the bridge was part of his campaign message to the people of the district to ensure that the bridge which is over the Gwidunah river is constructed for the free flow of goods and services in the region.
Providing clarity, Mulbah said the lawmaker's assertion is far from the truth. Mulbah said that funding for the project was sourced from the 2018 County Counsel Sitting. Mulbah said that though the lawmaker pre-financed the bridge construction with US$15,000, the amount was refunded to the lawmaker. "All I can tell you is that the project is funded by the county and not the lawmaker," Mulbah said.
Also, In a town hall meeting organized by a non-governmental organization, NAYMOTE, a staffer to the lawmaker, James Janteh, stated that the bridge project is being financed by the county and not the lawmaker, though his boss decided to pay some money to the contractor to kick off the project that has been an age-old problem for residents of the district.
Since Mulbah's clarity, the lawmaker has come under a barrage of criticisms from residents of the county, with many terming his action as unrealistic and a complete disservice to the people of the district. Togar Weyea, a resident of Gbarnga, said while it is true that the lawmaker should claim credit for recognizing the need for the construction of the bridge but to state that funds for the construction came from his personal resources was unfair and politically motivated. "We should give him the credit for helping to identify the bridge for construction but to say that it is his own money that he is using to carry on the work is a disservice and only intended to misinform the public," he said.
Weyea wants Rep. Womba to admit to residents of the district who have been eager to ascertain the reality surrounding the controversy of the source of the funding. "Now that the head of the project committee has spoken it is time that Rep. Womba clear the air to savage his integrity," he added.
Howard Matadi, a resident of Gbarnga questioned the sincerity of the lawmaker amid Mulbah's clarity on the funds for the bridge construction. He said the lawmaker's assertion about the constriction of the bridge was a publicity stunt only intended to accrue political dividends at the expense of the people he represents. "There are so many projects across the county being funded through the county development fund and it is despicable that a lawmaker would want to claim glory without a mention of the government that is funding the project indirectly," he said.
As of yet, the lawmaker hasn't responded to Mulbah amid public outcry for him to clear the air