BUCHANAN, Grand Bassa â€“ With a date yet to be announced for the next county council sitting in Grand Bassa, several individuals have set their eyes on the chairmanship of the project management committee.
Members of the committee are elected for a three-year tenure by delegates representing various sectors and political districts to spearhead the management of all projects funded under the county and social development funds.
Among those who have declared their intentions for the chairman position is Moses Henry, the current treasurer of the PMC. The current chairman, Theophilus Bedell, has announced he would not seek re-election for the job at the next council sitting expected to be held soon.
â€œThis is the best PMC in the history of Grand Bassa,â€ Henry said while announcing his candidacy.
According to him, under the current PMC, more developments were achieved although it received less funding than the previous administration.
â€œThis is the PMC that received little funding in the course of three years and has done more.â€
He said he would contest because of several requests from citizens for their team to seek re-election to achieve more development.
â€œThe citizens are convinced that the more money we get, we will be able to do more projects,â€ he added.
Current members of the PMC were elected in July 2015 and their mandate will end at the next council sitting. However, they are still eligible to contest for positions on the committee, as the budget law sets no limit to terms.
Uriah Bryant, the outgoing comptroller, has also announced he will contest as treasurer.
He is expected to battle with Tarr Sayweh, a strong supporter of Grand Bassaâ€™s third district representative, Matthew Joe, along with Onesimus Coporal, who is also a staffer in the office the countyâ€™s fourth districtâ€™s representative, Vincent Willie.
Although no date has been set for the county council sitting, some of the aspirants have begun to canvass for support in the various districts.
Sayweh believes that the outgoing chair of the PMC failed in achieving the countyâ€™s development agenda and therefore wants all members of his team to be retired.
â€œThe best way forward is to weed those corrupt people out of the system and bring on board people that have minds for the county, and I am one of those to bring on board,â€ he said.
He said the current PMC did not fully involve residents of the county in the selection and implementation of projects.
Over the last two fiscal years, Grand Bassa has not been able to access all its county and social development funds. Sayweh believes that the committee should take responsibility.
â€œThe central government is not responding positively the way the governmentâ€™s supposed to respond to the county. You know that the entire county is broke; you think itâ€™s supposed to be that way while other counties are moving forward?â€ he asked.
During the period of its tenure, the outgoing PMC expended nearly US$1.2 million of the county social development fund to implement projects across the county.
In Grand Bassaâ€™s first district, the PMC used US$115,666 to complete all its projects resolved under 2015/2016 fiscal year. The projects included a US$75,000 school annex in Compound One, the Owensgrove checkpoint beautification initiative at the cost of US$10,000, the Edina city hall renovation for US$15,000, Edina city beautification and ferry cost US$15,000, and a US$5,666 support to the Diahn-Blae radio station. According to the PMC, no payment was received for the 2016/2017 fiscal period due to a budget shortfall and to the need to fulfill the national governmentâ€™s competing priority.
During the 2017/2018 fiscal period, the three major projects earmarked are still outstanding due to lack of funds. They include the construction of a US$30,000 commissionerâ€™s office, construction of a market in Owensgrove at a cost of US$50,000, and completion of the Edina ferry terminal worth US$5,000.
In the second district, US$108,891 was used on projects agreed upon during the 2015/2016 council sitting. Of the amount, US$73,725 was used on the construction of the Fortville High School annex, US$15,000 for the St. John City Hall renovation, US$2,500 on a hand pump construction in St. John City, and media support of US$666 to Light FM.
The committee also paid US$17,000 toward the rehabilitation of the Gaye Gbokon road which costs US$20,000 in total. However, up to date, the contractor responsible for the project implementation, Becsen Group of Company, has only been able to replace damaged culverts.
The outgoing treasurer, however, told The Bush Chicken that the US$20,000 could only replace four damaged culverts and not full rehabilitation. He said the engineering battalion of the Armed Forces of Liberia had agreed to complete the work for US$75,000.
â€œAs I speak to you, three coverts are already completed, and one is pending because, during the rainy season, we stopped the contractor from doing any road [work] until the rain subsides,â€ he also said.
Also, under fiscal year 2017/2018, two projects approved during the council sitting are yet to be completed. They include the construction of a market worth US$15,000 in Yeabloe and a commissioner residence in Geebahn at the cost of US$30,000.
During the period, US$84,500 was also disbursed on four projects in the countyâ€™s third district. They were the Buchanan city beautification project for US$30,000, the US$25,000 Barconi Clinic renovation, the rehabilitation of streets in Buchanan at the cost of US$30,000, and the Payne Berry Bridge construction for US$10,000.
US$7,500 and US$3,000 are still outstanding for the city beautification of Buchanan and streets rehabilitation, respectively. The two projects are yet to be completed. In July, the US$10,000 Payne Berry bridge also collapsed following heavy rains.
In the fourth district, US$83,800 was earmarked for three projects. They include a US$93,743 allotment to a health center in Gorblee, US$666 in media support to Radio Wee, and the construction of a hand pump cost US$2,500 in Neekrene.
US$13,100 is still outstanding towards the construction of the health center. The Gorblee Health center is a joint project of the United Methodist Church Liberia Annual Conference and Grand Bassa.
Over the period under review from July 2015 to July 2018, the Project Management Committee, along with the county leadership, also carried out several initiatives described as general projects and programs across the county. The initiatives were valued at US$703,955.99.
The county purchased two buses for both the Grand Bassa Community College and the Liberian Government Hospital, valued at US$63,000 each. Other initiatives included the community collegeâ€™s computer lab, purchase of a marching band, and salaries for GBCC teachers.
According to the outgoing treasurer, the county had expected to receive US$3.6 million during the three fiscal periods but said only US$1.2 million was disbursed by the central government. ArcelorMittal has also cut down its remittance to the county by half and now pays US$500,000 as a result of the Ebola period and the decrease in the price of iron ore on the world market.
About US$1.1 million is allotted to the county in the national budget for the current fiscal period, 2018/2019.
Grand Bassaâ€™s Sen. Jonathan Kaipay recently told the public that the central government had agreed to provide US$250,000 to the county as part of its portion of the county and social development funds. The county council sitting would only be possible this year if the county receives its portion of the county and social development funds.
Featured photo by Sampson David