JERRY KING VILLAGE, River Cess – Residents of Jerry King Village in Jueh Yarnee District, where a US$62,000 clinic is currently under construction, are raising alarm at what they say is substandard materials being used by the construction company.
The project was funded through logging fees paid by EJ&J Investment, one of the logging companies operating in River Cess. The contract was awarded to LIDA Liberia Limited by the Community Forestry Development Committee of Forest Management Contract Area B.
At the groundbreaking ceremony on January 4, 2019, and in the presence of local county officials and district residents, the head of the Community Forestry Development Committee, Matthew Walley, said that the project would be completed in six months.
Walley told the gathering that LIDA had been awarded the contract because the company had the expertise and the financial capability to pre-finance the project. Pre-financing was one of the prerequisites for the bidding.
LIDA’s administrative manager, Mac Doxon W. Nyenegbo, presented the architectural design of the clinic to the public at the groundbreaking, which prompted questions as to whether the US$62,704 allotted to the project was enough. However, Nyenegbo assured the public that his company would ensure that the facility would be completed with the provided funds.
However, a recent site visit by The Bush Chicken discovered that what is on the ground appears much different from the drawings presented by the company during the bidding and subsequent groundbreaking ceremony. Residents of the district also told The Bush Chicken that the company is using substandard materials on the building.
The building, which according to Walley is expected to be dedicated anytime soon, already has leakages in the roof and comes with half-inch steel rods being used for window bars – inadequate for protection. A man in charge of the construction site would not answer questions but referred The Bush Chicken to his boss, who is in Monrovia and could not be reached via phone.
Emmanuel King, the head of the Project Monitoring Team, a committee set up to monitor the project on behalf of the community, said he has engaged the contractors on several occasions about the community’s observations, but they have paid “deaf ears.”
“They only dug the septic tank and laid the blocks around the hole and covered it with concrete,” King said. “This kind of work will not last; especially [since] this area is a swampy area.”
When contacted, Walley said he is currently in Monrovia but will visit the project site to verify the information for immediate correction if necessary.
“Even with the issue of the half-inch steel rod bars, that is not a problem because that is what in the [bill of quantity],” Walley said. “But with the leakages, we are going to make sure they correct all before the dedication.”
Walley said he does not have any problem with the architectural design being different from the actual building, as long as it has the necessary compartments to function as a health facility.
However, River Cess’ development superintendent, Amos Somah, has expressed his objections: “I told them that the drawing was not a working drawing, but Walley insisted awarding them the contract.”
“A working [drawing] will give you the real drawing of the work from foundation to completion, but the young man will just go on the internet and download something that he cannot do,” he added.
The clinic project is the second major project in the Forest Management Contract Area B with funding from logging fees. In 2016, communities here received US$46,341from EJ&J and an additional US$10,000 in 2018.
That money was used to complete a structure which is expected to be used as a vocational training center in Yarpah Town, Central River Cess District. The company has also provided US$10,000 for educational support to students in the affected area.
Featured photo by Eric Opa Doue