YARPLEAH TOWN, River Cess – Local government officials in River Cess find themselves at the center of a brewing scandal. The officials are implicated in the double sales of scrap metals removed from the old Timbo River Bridge in the county.
At least two business firms, North Star and Varney M. Kaba, Inc., are claiming ownership of the scrap metals. North Star, through its representative Isaac Dayougar, and Varney M. Kaba, Inc., represented by its chief executive Varney Kaba, are each claiming to have purchased the materials from members of the local county administration.
There was intense altercation and a near-fistfight between Kaba and Dayougar on Dec. 6 when both men and their respective companies carried equipment to dismantle and remove the scraps. The swift intervention of the Liberia National Police was required to diffuse the situation.
The police temporarily confiscated the equipment of both companies.
River Cess Superintendent Bismark Karbiah told The Bush Chicken in a phone interview that Kabba’s firm is, in fact, the legitimate owner of the scrap, following a legal purchase. Karbiah confirmed the purchase agreement between the county administration and Kaba’s firm for all scraps in the county, including those from the dismantled Timbo River Bridge.
Unlike Kaba, who concluded a purchase agreement through cash payment, Dayougar’s company did not have the cash to pay for the scraps and was still negotiating to pay upon the resale of the scraps.
“We need money for development and some administrative works in the county. But the man [Dayougar] does not have the money to buy the iron; so, we decided to do business with Kaba,” he said.
Evidence dated December 5 and provided to The Bush Chicken presents, however, a more complicated story. The document appears to show that Dayougar’s firm did, in fact, pay the amount of US$3,000 as an initial payment for the scraps. The document seems to bear the signature of River Cess County Finance Officer James V. Toweh and was approved by County Inspector Daniel Tokoe Doe, who acted as superintendent at the time the superintendent was on sick leave. The assistant superintendent for fiscal affairs, Elijah Kassaynee, also attested to Dayougar’s agreement.
The document in question was not written on an official letterhead of any country authority. However, it purports to carry the signatures of county officials, and the official stamp of the fiscal superintendent, giving it the appearance of legitimacy.
Two separate documents also in the possession of The Bush Chicken indicate that Karbiah had previously authorized both companies to take delivery of the scrap metals. The authorization for North Star of Dayougar is dated May 13, 2019, while Kaba’s was issued on October 23, 2019.
The letters authorized both companies’ claims to remove the scraps.
The letter issued to Dayougar, however, does not clearly show Karbiah’s signature, except for what appears to be an official ‘superintendent’ stamp.
The superintendent’s authorization to Kaba provided that he removes between 50 to 60 tons of scrap metal at the rate of US$85 per ton.
Kaba claimed that he made an initial payment of US$2,000 to Supt. Kabiah and River Cess’ Senator Dallas Gueh, at the Capitol Building in Monrovia, in the presence of Grand Bassa’s fifth district representative, Thomas Goshua. The superintendent admitted to receiving the amount and issuing the authorization letter.
Senator Dallas Gueh did not, however, respond to repeated inquiries by The Bush Chicken regarding his involvement in the sale of the scraps.
A group of River Cess’ citizens under the umbrella of ‘Conscious Minded Citizens of River Cess’ has voiced disappointment over the double sales of the scraps by county officials. The group has demanded an immediate and amicable solution to the dispute in order to save the county from public disrepute.
Featured photo by Eric Opa Doue