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Gbarpolu County: Lack of Community Contribution Delays Health Workers’ Housing Project

Gbarpolu County – Limited cooporation from locals of Gbarpolu County has impeded the completion of  health workers’ housing project in the county. These housing projects are part of government’s improved health care delivery system that considers the involvement of community members to ensure the implementation of a 10 year health investment plan to make the sector resilient.

Local Voices Liberia can confirmed that the stalmate is due to the lack of information sharing among locals in the implementation of the project.

Dr. Anthony Tucker, head of the county health team, said the project is gear towards attracting health workers to rural health facilities by providing infrastructure designed to suit them.

“They (health workers) go to various community and rent or [are] living in a structure that is not too conducive for them,” he said, promising at the time that by December 2016 the project would have been fully completed. But these projects are stll far fom completion.

According to findings, in March 2016, the the county health team representated by county health officer, Dr. Anthony Tucker and the Local authority represented by Bambu P.  Zinnah, chairman of the 24 clinics catchment  community signed an agreement for the construction of the health workers housing units.

The agreement calls on the GCHT to provide all the non-local materials and pay the contractor US$2,700.00 in three installments. It also  mandated the county health team to support the community with US$700.0, four bags of 25kg rice and 12 gallons of locally made palm as food for local volunteers providing local materials including sand, crash rocks, planks, and the production of cement brikes.

These volunteers, according to the agrrement,  were to also manned the warehouse as well as provide manpower to complement the work of the contractor.

Though the community signed the MOU in March of 2016, the contractor is complaining that since August 2016, he’s yet to see the community performing its part of the bargain.

Sumo Ballah, Jr. said the project should have lasted for three months and then turned over in October 2016, but up to present much has not been done. He said the lack of community support is a major challenge.

“Most often we come to job no manpower from the community. They (the youth) say money is in this project, so they will not continune helping us,” he said. “When we come to work [there’s ] no materials like sand and crash rocks, what do you expect me to do?”.

Bopolu district Commissioner, Olu Nangba, arranged an emergency meeting in Bambuta to mitigate the challenge, inviting represenatives from each 26 communities.The meeting identified the causes of the setback as well as seek a way forwards.

During the meeting, Nangba reminded the community about the challenge and how it affects the project’s intent.

“This project was for three months, but up to present the foundation is not even finish. Why are we (YOU) acting so ungratful to government?” he ased.

The commissioner claimed US$1,000.00 has been paid as first installment to the contractor and support to the community was aso provide as per the MOU.

For  his part, Bambu P. Zinnah, the community leader, claimed support was given to volunteers that were aviliable to work.

“Some time ago, I even paid to encouraged some communities to gather some sand and crash rocks just to speed up the work but people said I was paying some people and leaving some out,” Zinnah said, adding that some towns have never contributed to the project, stressing, “I cannot run this job without empowerment.” .

Some community members have view the CHDC report as a unilateral decision by Mr. Zinnah and claim using the funding and orther support without proper consultations was not in the interest of the communities.

At the meeting, the town chief of Bambu Clan, Koryan Varmah lamented: “This money business that our people was not inform about has put us in big problem in this community. We all have been pointed at as money eaters.”

The Paramount chief of Gungbia Chiefdom, Johnson Diannah added that the lack of meetings to delibarate on the project created disastisfaction amongst locals, and he urged his kinsmen to work together for the completion of the nurses staffs’ building at the Bambuta health facility.  Bambuta Clinic staff quarter is amongst six nursing quarters being constructed by the County Health Team.

Some locals argued that  the community was not responsible to feed contractors and pay individual community for gethering local materials, while others blamed the Bopolu District Commissioner and the head of the CHDC of diverting the US$700.00 to enhance community supports.

Following the discussion, Zinnah, was later held liable for the mismanagement of local support and he then admitted his flaws, and promised to turn a new page by collaboarting with his kinsmen. Later, participants agreed to put the past behind and collaborate to ensure the completion of the project.

Report by: Henry Gboluma, Jr.

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