Bopolu District – Residents of Gainkpai Town in Korninga Chiefdom have voiced out serious concerns over the failure of the Public Works Engineer to complete their town hall project.
Report By: Henry B. Gboluma, Jr. in Gbarpolu County
“I’m very much annoyed with the paramount Chief and the Development Superintendent for given our money to the Resident Engineer of Public Works, Aaron Joboe,” Alton Volo, one of the elders of the town said, “because they told us in our faces that we are corrupts in Gainkpa Town. So, I give them the time – there are certain areas where the spoon of rice can reach you and open your mouth; and this is the time for me to open my mouth.”
With Ten thousand United States dollars acquired as a result of a lease agreement from a logging company, Aaron Joboe was contracted to build a modern town hall for the people of Gainkpa town.
A contract document in our possession shows September 20, 2021 as the date the Public Works official, Aaron Joboe and the Paramount Chief of Korninga Chiefdom representing the people of Gainkpai town signed the agreement.
This agreement which was witnessed by Gbarpolu Development Superintendent, Joseph Akoi was for the lifespan of three months, from September 30, 2021 – December 30, 2021.
But since September 20, 2021 the project is still at what Alton Volo described as foundation level.
It can be recalled that on April 25, 2019, Korninga ‘A’ Community Forest Management Body (CFMB) signed a 14 years third-party logging agreement with Coveiyallah Investment Enterprise (CIE) in Henry Town.
The concession covers 48,298 hectares of Land in Gbarpolu electoral district one.
The agreement outlines road benefits including the construction of a mini hydra, plywood or sawmill factory to boost employment opportunities in the affected communities.
To enable the company to do that, they paid extra Ten Thousand United States dollars as lease agreement for five years to allow them assemble their equipment on an old sawmill around Gainkpai town outside of their operation area.
When the money was paid, the Korninga chiefdom agreed to use the money to construct a modern town hall for the Sawmill host community, Gainkpai town, according to the Paramount chief, George Sumo.
Meanwhile, during our first visit at the project site, we observed the foundation in a bad condition.
In fact, residents of the town are bewildered over the implementation of the project and now want the government to intervene.
“So we raised this issue so that the national government can hear it and take action,” says Chief Carter Kpessi.
The Gainkpai Town Chief said, “If it will cause the government to change some of these so-called leaders, please change them, because they are not doing well for their people.”
“When the rich man steals, they say that embezzlement, when the countryman steals that rogue, “he said, “These guys have eaten our money but we will stand tall until we build this town hall.
Admitting to the transaction, the Korninga Chiefdom Paramount Chief said despite the delay in the project, all efforts are being applied to make sure that the contractor completes the project beyond the project fix timeline.
“We made some mistakes. And we are behind the Resident Engineer to come and complete the project,” Chief George B. Sumo “I’m working with the D.S. [Development superintendent] for Aaron Joboe to come and complete the project, so, I am talking to my people to remain patient.”
When contacted, the Gbarpolu County Development Superintendent Joseph Akoi said, “Yes, I only witnessed that contract, and so we are behind Aaron Joboe to complete that project.”
He attributed continued delays of the project to what he called the prolonged absence of the Public work official from Gbarpolu due to his sickness and busy schedule outside of his assigned county.
He said that the Public works Resident Engineer of Gbarpolu is Aaron assigned in another county on a bridge project.
“Unfortunately for him, he completed that project and got ill, he said, “But rest assured that Aaron is going to complete that project as much as I am involved.”
Meanwhile, all efforts applied to reach or hear from the Resident Engineer; Aaron Joboe did not materialize 2022 up to March 2023.
During the course of that time, he did not respond to several calls and text messages up to the middle ending part of March 2023 when he was subpoenaed by the Superintendent J. Keyah Saah.
Through the intervention of the Superintendent, a verbal agreement with the contractor in the paramount Chief George Sumo and other concerned locals of the affected project community was reached in March 2023 to complete the project in four months (April – July 2023) according to Aaron Joboe.
This was even confirmed by Superintendent J. Keyah Saah of Gbarpolu.
However, during our fact finding visit to the project site on April 29, 2023 in Gainkpai town, about an hour plus drive away from Bopolu City, we observed the project untouched and lying in ruins.
This story was a production of the Community of Forest and environmental Journalists of Liberia (CoFEJ)
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