During the turnover ceremony at the National Port Authority (NPA), Vice President Joseph Boakai frowned at users of public properties for being carless in maintaining them; mainly those that have to do with vehicles and other moving objects, office equipment, amongst others.
Vice President Boakai indicated during his remark that people working in government cry out to receive these things, but when they are made available users improperly use them and after few days or months, they are damaged and become useless.
VP Boakai in his statement noted that this poses serious economic consequences on government that provides these logistical materials.
Earlier in 2009, former Education Minister Dr. Joseph Korto made similar statement while turning over 15 pickups to County Education Officers to enable them reach out to schools in their respective counties.
Former Minister Korto at the time warned the County Education Officers to erase the sentiment of ‘government property has no owner,’ from their minds and maintain the properties as they do with their personal properties.
Former Minister Korto stressed that each CEO would account for his/her vehicle and will only be set free if there is a genuine cause for its damage; other than that, he said at the time; a CEO will be compelled to pay for damaging the property.
Chinese Ambassador accredited to Monrovia during the turnover also stressed the need for beneficiaries to properly maintain the bikes, noting that they are one set of the well guarantee bikes used in China.
China and other countries including Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, and the United States are key donor countries that had contributed to the Liberia Security sector in providing logistical support for its smooth operations.
The Ambassador did not make explicit the reason why he had to attach seriousness to proper maintenance of the bikes especially when it is not a group of Chinese to use them.
However, it is unequivocally clear that despite these moving objects manufactured in the country that donated them, it takes millions of dollars to make them; taking into consideration the cost attached to manufacturing including job costing and payment of manufacturers.
It is not all resources needed to produce these bikes are from the country where they come, meaning that the iron ore and other resources are imported which cost huge amount of money.
This means that China will not always be in the position to purchase resources or use its resources to produce such valuable materials to give them out freely to another country, but the beneficiary should be in the position to maintain them or be fit to provide themselves some in case the freely donated ones are damaged as a result of poor maintenance.
Views of the Vice President and the former Education Minister also suggest the culture of handling government or public properties in Liberia.
There is no doubt why many people wish to work in government in the country. Secured job, inducements and other benefits including insurance, gasoline, scratch cards, medical benefits, and most interestingly, possession of vehicles or bikes, are some basic necessities minds are set at while pursuing a position in government.
In the absence of vehicles, workers always complain that they are unable to reach out to meet up with their obligations as required by the job descriptions, but when these needed materials are provided, instead of being a blessing it becomes a curse to the country.
It takes millions of US Dollars from tax payers for government to purchase vehicles for Ministers, Assistant Ministers, Deputy Ministers, and Directors of agencies, and others who need them. The money used is from the tax paid by every Liberian, both the rich and poor.
But contrary to belief that these things would be properly used by public officials and even for succeeding officials to use, culture dictates that as long as they are government’s properties, they can be used in any way pleasing to the user but detrimental to the state, and government would repair or purchase new ones when damaged.
As a result, many carless drivers and riders would tend to ruthlessly move them and such had led to numerous accidents leaving these vehicles and cycles damaged.
Users are at the advantageous end on grounds that they are insured and government takes responsibility to repair damaged vehicles or bikes, or replace them to provide comfort to officials and others.
The effect on government and the state is that as government workers are counting on government to disregard other essential projects to concentrate on providing transportation for them, tax payers money is diverted and basic social services they (ordinary tax payers) should benefit are left unattended to.
It is not clear whether policies are in place to help government holds public officials accountable for how they use public properties as effort made to contact the General Services Agency and the Ministry of Finance proved futile.
As Vice President Joseph Boakai alluded to while making statement during the turnover of the bikes, most vehicles belonging to government with the plate RL are found in garages, left along highways, and parked at private homes.
With the concern raised by the Vice President, what remains unspoken is the’ way forward’ to erasing this notion that has long lived with people of Liberia; which has aversely led to the retrogression of the economy thus leaving the country undeveloped.