BUCHANAN, Grand Bassa â€“ The Forestry Development Authority has broken grounds to construct a regional office complex in Buchanan, Grand Bassa.
The complex is being built as part of the Liberia Forest Sector Project and will contain nine offices, a conference room, and a store. The groundbreaking ceremony took place on Tuesday, August 6 in the Four Houses Community in Buchanan.
Grand Bassaâ€™s Superintendent Janjay Baikpeh, the FDAâ€™s Managing Director Mike Doryen, the Environmental Protection Agencyâ€™s chief technical advisor Levi Piah, and other government officials were present.
When completed, the regional office will be used by the FDA and the EPA to strengthen institutional capacity in region three, which comprises of River Cess, Nimba, and Grand Bassa.
Valued at US$292,000, construction will be done by Zenith, a Liberian-owned company, on land owned by the FDA.
Superintendent Baikpeh described the construction of the regional office as a milestone.
â€œWe want to say to you, FDA and partners, that this project will be closely monitored. We will take it as our own and we will do everything humanly possible to protect every material that will be taken here. We will work in collaboration with the construction company to ensure that the right thing is done,â€ he said.
â€œIn Grand Bassa, we donâ€™t pick and choose whether it is a county or national project; we take it as our own.â€
Baikpeh recognized the potential of the project to stimulate the local economy through the provision of jobs and he called on the FDA and the construction company to prioritize hiring Grand Bassa locals.
The FDAâ€™s managing director, Doryen, thanked the governments of Liberia and Norway for funding the project, which he said would enable the people who own the forests to benefit directly.
He urged the contractor to build a facility that met the standards of the blueprint, in order to erase the notion that Liberian construction companies are not up to the task to compete with international companies.
â€œMy observation is that in the 50s, 60s, 70s, and even in the 80s, the facilities that are seen constructed by the government are by far stronger than what we saw in the 90s and sometimes in the 2000s,â€ he added. â€œThat trend must be reversed. We should bring back quality to our infrastructure.â€
Doryen said it was also important for the local economy to be stimulated and the livelihoods of the people improved.
â€œAt time, you will see electricians, painters, and carpenters, and they will all come from here,â€ he promised. â€œWe have to make that very clear. When it comes to people with special technical skills that are needed, there is no problem about where they come from. But in terms of what the people of [Grand] Bassa can do, you cannot import people to do it here. That will not be a good thing and it will not bring about a kind of impact that we should have. The project is here, so people must benefit.â€
After the groundbreaking ceremony, the project officer of a program to reduce deforestation, Roland Lepol, said the US$36.7 million Liberia Forest Sector Project came out of a letter of intent that was signed between the governments of Liberia and Norway in 2015.
Lepol noted that the project is being implemented by six government ministries and agencies, including the FDA, EPA, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Mines and Energy, the Liberia Land Authority, and the Liberia Institute for Statistics and Geo-information Services.
â€œThe objective of the project is to improve the management of the forest in targeted landscapes while at the same time ensuring increased benefits sharing for communities around the vicinity of the forests,â€ Lepol noted.
He said the construction of the regional office in Buchanan is one of two regional offices to be constructed under the project. Another office is expected to be constructed in Tubmanburg, Bomi, under the same project.
Featured photo by Sampson David