Alliance Between Gompa and Friends of Samuel Brown Network Falls Aparts

GOMPA, Nimba – The relationship between the Gompa City Corporation and the Friends of Samuel Brown Network in Liberia has soured after the group has accused the city of refusing to accept its proposal to build a city hall and a clinic on public land.

The political group and the city have enjoyed a mutually beneficial partnership over the past six months since it sprouted. In October 2016, the group partnered with the city to launch a massive cleanup campaign to give the city a facelift. The network also buttressed the efforts of the city government to remove garbage from the city over a one-month period.

Notwithstanding, it appears that the two institutions now have a strained relationship. Early this week, Gompa’s Mayor Benjamin Dokpa held a press conference and refuted allegations from the group that he was denying their continued development of the city.

“We listened to media institutions where a senior member of this network was able to falsify or to say something that does not correspond to the letter that we wrote him,” Dokpa said. “To tell the people of Gompa City that we have refused to give them land to construct two major buildings — in no direction it was seen that we did not want to provide them land.”

Mayor Dokpa launching the cleaning exercise conducted by Friends of Samuel Brown Network in Liberia on October 27, 2016. Photo: Arrington Ballah

Mayor Dokpa launching the cleaning exercise conducted by Friends of Samuel Brown Network in Liberia on October 27, 2016. Photo: Arrington Ballah

According to Dokpa, on Jan. 10, 2017, the city received a written communication from the political group requesting eight acres of land to construct a multipurpose city hall and a public clinic.

“They wrote us that they wanted to construct a city hall… and also a medical center and our response were clear,” he said. The mayor said he had also received letters from other organizations requesting land for buildings within the city. He said all the organizations were scheduled for a meeting at his office.

“Our response to all of them was to meet them on Feb. 15, 2017, so that they can provide us information that would lead us to make an informed decision,” he said. “Our letter requested them to provide us with the blueprint of the hall; our letter requested them to provide us with the bill of quantity, the estimated cost of the project, the source of funding and the quantity of land.”

Items donated for the cleaning exercise by the Network. Photo: Arrington Ballah

Items donated for the cleaning exercise by the Network. Photo: Arrington Ballah

Dokpa said since the request was made, the group had not made available the information and its members were going to radio stations to accuse the city government of refusing to grant them space for their development.

He added, “We want this information so that we can be able to make an informed decision on how we can grant them the land.”

In reaction to Dokpa’s press conference, the group’s national chairperson on development, Boris Barlea, said his group was left out of a meeting held by the mayor, which should have allowed them to present their blueprints. He said his organization had requested a rescheduling of the meeting due to other engagements in Monrovia.

“The clarity we want to provide here is that… we asked the city mayor to reschedule the meeting because our executives [were] traveling to Monrovia for some national engagement,” Barlea said. “The mayor rescheduled the meeting for March 15 … and I confronted him that it was a holiday and he said that was no problem because the City Council members were all here.”

Barlea added, “Contrary to that, on Wednesday morning [March 15] we met the city mayor in person and asked about the meeting and he said the day was a holiday, and that it was not possible to hold the meeting. Therefore, the meeting was postponed to the next day, and he [Dokpa] was not sure that we would be on the agenda.”

Because Dokpa serves as secretary to the council, Barlea said he is responsible for drafting the agenda for the council meetings, therefore, his uncertainty about whether the political group’s presentation was included within the agenda was disingenuous.

Barlea said his group has a blueprint to build a city hall that can accommodate 5,000-6,000 persons.

At the moment, Ganta lacks a public facility for holding events, a growing concern for organizations both in the public and private sectors. The Ganta United Methodist Gymnasium is the only facility for holding major events in the city.

Featured photo by Arrington Ballah

A resident of Ganta, Nimba County, Arrington has a background working with credit unions and other organizations dedicated to rural finance.

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