Over a year ago a vehicle of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) slammed into a poor rural woman and her very young daughter in faraway Tappita, about 150 miles from Monrovia. They both sustained broken legs and one of the mother’s legs had to be amputated. The child also sustained broken teeth. That was over a year ago and the mother and child are still languishing in Tappita, apparently forgotten!The Daily Observer and the Liberian public knew nothing about this sad story until the mother’s brother, James Toeman, traveled to Monrovia and walked into our office to tell us what had happened to his sister and niece.Our Senior Reporter C.Y. Kwanue wasted no time in reporting the story in yesterday’s newspaper. The Daily Observer management was grateful and impressed that UNMIL responded immediately to the story. Matthew Elavanalthoduka, Officer-in-Charge of UNMIL’s Public Information, in a letter written the very next morning, referred to the article and stated that all UNMIL vehicles are insured. “Following the accident,” the letter continued, “UNMIL referred this matter to the insurance company and put the claimants in contact with the company. UNMIL . . . has again followed up with the insurance company to facilitate urgent communication between the company and the claimants in this matter.”Unfortunately, the UNMIL letter did not name the insurance company. Otherwise we would have contacted the company to determine what it had done for these sick, destitute and hapless people. Now here we are, over a year following the accident, and the victims can hardly move around because they were provided no crutches, nor has the child’s teeth been attended to.UNMIL should know that most insurances companies do not rush to attend to accident victims, especially in a faraway place as Tappita. We believe that if the company had gone to find the victims, something may have been done to attend to their urgent needs. But a year later and no serious relief—not even crutches to help them walk? Surely UNMIL does not expect this woman and child, who cannot even walk, to travel to Monrovia to run behind an insurance company. They most probably have never even heard of such a thing—an insurance company—nor perhaps ever travelled to Monrovia. How would they get here in the first place? Who would pay their fares? How would they manage mobility-wise since their feet are injured and they have no crutches. Where would they stay and how would they be able to find the insurance company? It is for these reasons that we feel compelled to appeal directly to Madam Karen Landgren, the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG), for her immediate, direct and compassionate intervention in this case, to bring some relief to these poor, injured and helpless people.One last thing: about three weeks ago, just down the street from the Daily Observer office, an unattended UNMIL truck crossed Camp Johnson Road and ran up the sidewalk near the AMEU University, killing instantly a shoe shine boy who was sitting there.We don’t know what has happened to that case, but we appeal again to the SRSG to look into it as soon as possible and ensure that justice is done to this other unfortunate family, including children, if any, affected by the sudden and unexpected loss of their father.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
People’s Progressive Party (PPP) regional representatives of Regions One (Barima-Waini) and Nine (Upper Takutu- Upper Essequibo) are decrying the level of corruption that has infested their respective regional procurement systems.Speaking at a press conference on Friday, the Vice Chair of Region Nine, Karl Singh, disclosed that over the past three months, there have been issues whereby Regional Executive Officer (REO) Carl Parker, who is heading the region’s Tender Board, awarded some 85 per cent of the region’s contracts using selective tendering.Region One Chairman Brentnol Ashley“So he would have basically selected, not a few, almost all PNC (People’s National Congress – the leading party in the APNU fraction of the Government) people and gave them all these contracts without following all the tendering procedures,” Singh noted.He pointed out that as Vice Chairman, as well as Chairman of the Region’s Works Committee, he wrote Public Procurement Commission (PPC), seeking an investigation into the matter.Region Nine Vice Chairman Karl Singh“That investigation was carried out two months ago and onto now, we have not seen any action taken as relates to that issue,” he posited.As such, Singh said that because of the incompetent contractors who were given those contracts, many of the region’s projects have not been completed as yet. In fact, he explained that usually, around September, approximately 65 to 75 per cent of the works in any region should be completed but in the Upper Takutu- Upper Essequibo Region, only about 40 to 45 per cent of the works are completed.He added that in addition to the works moving at very slow pace, payments to contractors is also at a snail’s pace.“So you see the incompetence there on the part of the REO… We continue to see discrimination by him. We continue to see persons, whom he believes are associated with the PPP (People’s Progressive Party) and thinks are associated with the PPP, not getting any work, and those are the ones who are qualified contractors. Those are the ones who are paying the taxes, NIS (National Insurance Scheme), GRA (Guyana Revenue Authority)…,” Singh stressed.Meanwhile, Region One Chairman Brentnol Ashley, also lamented the same, telling reporters that major projects in the region that should have been awarded and near completion are not yet awarded or are still in the mobilising stage. In fact, he noted that those projects are only about 30 per cent completed.He specifically pointed to the education sector where many of the schools, including Port Kaituma Primary and Secondary, as well as Mabaruma Primary, have their works stalled. This, he stated, has resulted in the inconveniencing of students, who are forced to attend school using the shift system.“For instance, in Port Kaituma in the morning, the primary school uses the secondary school building and in the afternoon then the secondary school children would go to school,” he noted.According to the Regional Chairman, this is happening despite the contractors recently having the two months holiday to complete the works.Furthermore, Ashley complained that the Regional Democratic Council (RDC), through two of its major committees – Finance, of which he is the Chairman, and Infrastructure, of which he is the acting Chair – have been prevented in carrying out its mandate to monitor the projects.In addition, the Regional Chairman said there are allegations of corruption of millions of dollars.“For instance, contracts are being awarded contractors such as the Town Council and when we do investigate, it would have already been sub-contracted to someone and so the local democratic organ is not being given the opportunity to decide who the contracts should be sub-contracted to and this all coming through the office of the REO,” he stressed.With regards to the award of contracts, Ashley contended that his region is also experiencing the same level of corruption as Region Nine, whereby hand-picked supporters of the APNU/AFC are being given contractors.“So it’s not something that is being done in a bi-partisan manner. It’s something where, [if you’re] a supporter of [my party] I’ll give you a contract…that is exactly what is being done in Region One,” he asserted.One specific instance, Ashley highlighted, was a contractor, who got the contract to supply dietary to institutions in Mabaruma, recently dying and instead of having the contract go back to tender, it was handed down to the contractor’s son, whose name is not even in the business registration.“Those are the kind of corrupt practices that’s happening in the region. Besides that we have, for instance, contractors getting four, five, six contracts and they cannot get it done. And these things are being done with cronies and buddies of APNU/AFC coalition,” the Barima-Waini Chairman noted.