BUCHANAN, Grand Bassa – After complaints from civil society groups, the Grand Bassa Legislative Caucus has directed Mayor Moses Haynes of Buchanan to provide a detailed report about royalties received from a logistics company, Bolloré.
The caucus’ chairman, Rep. Thomas Goshua, said the lawmakers want to properly examine how the funds received from the company have been expended.
The city had signed an agreement in 2018 with UMARCO, as Bolloré was known at that time, to use the Port of Buchanan for US$50,000 annually. The amount was later increased to US$100,000.
Bolloré Transport & Logistics is a French-owned major international transport and logistics operator.
Goshua said lawmakers had invited the mayor to discuss the contract with the logistics company and how the money was spent; however, Haynes came without any documents. Now, they are asking Haynes to provide a formal report “so that each member of the caucus will have a copy of it to go through and then be able to make a determination.”
Buchanan residents have long complained on radio talk shows about the lack of information provided to the public on the use of the funds. One of such voices was that of Bailey Tokpah, the chair of the Grand Bassa civil society organization. His organization recently wrote the caucus to complain that the city mayor had refused to provide explanations to the public.
After months of pressure, Haynes appeared on a talk show recently to provide some explanations. Noting that he took over as mayor of Buchanan on June 4, 2018, from former Mayor Julia Bondo, Haynes said he met an agreement between Bolloré and the city.
However, Haynes said Bolloré had trouble paying due to a “financial crisis” and the city agreed to receive the payments in quarterly installments, with the first payment of US$22,500 coming in December 2018.
“In fact, the payment in total should have been US$25,000, but they deducted tax. In March again, another US$22,500 was signed for. In May, US$22,500 was signed for,” Haynes explained, noting that the total amount provided to the city has now reached US$67,500.
Hynes said he had planned to make a detailed report to citizens on December 16, 2019, as enshrined in the city ordinance. A team of journalists recently visited the Buchanan City Hall to obtain copies of the ordinance, but the mayor said copies were not available and would be provided at an unspecified time in the future.
Meanwhile, Haynes did not explain why he failed to make such report available on December 16, 2018, given that he took over as mayor on June 4, 2018. Haynes’ report and the next meeting with lawmakers is expected to produce the details being sought by the public.
Featured photo by Sampson David