Bong Lawmakers, Citizens Want County Divided

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Rep. Briggs-Mensah: "My people mandated me in a meeting that there is a need to separate the County."

-Consultation ongoing to propel bill

Arguments about dividing Bong County has intensified among members of the County Legislative Caucus, with the co-chairperson, Mrs. Moima Brigggs–Mensah, Representative of District 6, reaffirming plans on the introduction of a bill to divide the County.

Rep. Mensah informed the Daily Observer of ongoing consultations bordering on the draft bill to divide the County, and has said that from the beginning of the consultation, chiefs, elders, youth and women groups have expressed a strong support to split the County.

Mensah’s confirmation, in support of caucus chairman Senator Henry Yallah over the pending bill to separate Lower Bong from Upper Bong, which enjoys more development, is amplifying arguments among the County’s lawmakers and also across the County.

It may recalled that Sen. Yallah cited major development in Upper Bong, such as the Cuttington University, Phebe and C.B. Dunbar hospitals, the Central Agriculture Research Institute (CARI) and the Bong County Technical College, but said that the lower part of the County can only boast of Bong Mines Hospital and Tumultu Vocational Institute.

Accordingly, if Sen. Yallah’s suggestion is legislated, Lower Bong will be named, “Bong Range County, while the upper province will maintain the original name, Bong County.”

Rep. Mensah said: “My people mandated me in a meeting that there is a need to separate Lower Bong from Upper Bong, and that is what am advocating as the direct representative of some part of Lower Bong.

“My people believe, and I also believe that if the division bill is enacted, there will be rapid development and the creation of jobs in the new county,” the female lawmaker said.

“Over the years, the citizens are saying their interests and well-being have been downplayed and sidelined, and that developments in the County were only concentrated in the upper part of the County, while the lower remains marginalized,” Briggs-Mensah said.

She added that when Lower Bong is separated, “we ourselves will be responsible for the development of our side.”

She further argued that Lower Bong has a population of about 89,000, which is the same as River Gee and other counties in the southeast.

Besides Rep. Mensah and Sen. Yallah, the chairperson and co-chairperson of the caucus, other representatives supporting the split include Representatives Edward W. Karfiah of District 5 and Joseph Papa Kolleh, District 7.

The County’s former representative, Adam Bill Corneh, who Rep. Mensah succeeded, and former Bong County Superintendent Polson Mappy are in support of the County’s separation plan.

However, Deputy Speaker Prince K. Moye of District 2, in an interview yesterday also told the Daily Observer that his support will determine the outcome of the ongoing consultation, which is expected to begin anytime soon.

The Bong County District 2 Representative said, “Though I am from the County and represent my people, I am also the Deputy Speaker. So I intend to hold a consultation before I decide either to support or reject the idea to separate the County.”

SASAFU’s Reaction

The secretary-general of Salala, Sanoyea and Fuamah (SASAFU), Yarkpai Keller, said that Lower Bong County obtaining a political autonomy is absolutely necessary. SASAFU, a political, developmental and advocacy group, was founded in May, 2013, and includes Yelequelleh.

“We strongly believe it is a cure for the countless years of depression, deprivation and total marginalization of the people of Lower Bong from development.  A radical problem needs pragmatic and radical solution, nothing else. So we the people in that part of the County need political autonomy,” Keller declared.

Unconfirmed reports said consultations and the draw-out of the separation of the County have been already scheduled by those who crafted the idea.

What next?

If the “Separation of Lower Bong County Bill” is introduced, it will be assigned to a Joint Committee, comprising Internal Affairs, Good Governance and Government Reform, the Judiciary and the Ways, Means, Finance and Development Planning. If the House approved it by simple majority (37 out of 73), then it will be forwarded to the Senate, where the bill will undergo scrutiny by another joint committee and subsequently debated and voted on by simple majority (16 of 30), and later sent to the President of Liberia for attestation.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Dear All, though the division of the county into two is not really necessary, but the attitude of politicians toward their people necessitate this action. That is one reasons some of us are strongly against the present Vice President of Liberia, who as a senator sat and permitted Rep. George S.Mulbah, to dominate the caucus at the time to locate the technical college in district number #3, his district in “Upper Bong” while “Lower Bong” is left with nothing to show.
    If those of us from “Lower Bong” are serious about a county status, then now is the time to do so in this By-election for senator, let us ensure that “Lower Bong” produce a candidate that will be accepted to the three districts(Sanoyea, Salala and Fuamah and adjoining areas) to vie for this seat, if that is done, then that is the beginning of making our dream to fruition. If not, then our dream will falter and the continuous Marginalization will increased. Thinking thoughts.
    Thanks.

  2. I am concern about the extra burden such split will have on the national government budget, but it is a great idea to be debated and studied. The question that practically need to be asked is, what resources are there in lower Bong to sustain developments in terms of industries that will generate tax incentives to support the county development agenda? It shouldn’t just be about getting up and thinking that by splitting the county, suddenly, developments will flow because money allocated in the national budget also referred to as county development funds are insufficient to carry out developments. Lower Bong if separated has Bong Mines to provide the tax incentives for developments, but does the mine has the resources/capacity like before the war mining activities that sustain Bong Mines and surrounding communities?
    Creating a new county will mean that elections will have to be conducted for representatives depending on the new districts that will be re-drawn, two senators and this will cost money. Besides, there will have to be a superintendent and a host of other county officials to be elected/appointed creating additional burden on the already stranded national government budget that’s below $6 million US dollars. I’ll strongly advise that the citizens of Bong appoint a committee to study this carefully and factor in all the consequences to the national government and truly what a monumental move it will be to split the Kpelle people of Bong County into two different counties. In our national history and geography, Bong is the only county that has one tribe predominantly occupying the county, the Kpelle People.
    What’s politically happening here is a power struggle between law makers and they’re using the citizens of Bong as scapegoats. If the reasons outlined as lack of developments and marginalization is the main reasons the county should be split, Phebe & Cuttington University are private institutions and though they’re located in upper Bong County, the reason they’re located here wasn’t a political decision by any government, but rather the choice of Christian organizations that are the owners of these institutions.
    The argument about amending the constitution to allow foreign nationals to become citizens and own land is dumb and has no investment or science to support such thinking. Now, how can lower Bong get develop without splitting the county? It is unfortunate that past governments before the war squandered opportunities when Bong Mines operated in this part of the county without government taking advantage to ask the company as part of its social responsibility to develop the county. Any company mining Bong Range going forward should undertake some developments to improve the living standard of citizens in that part of the county. A larger percentage of tax dollars government collects from any company operating the mines should be used to develop this part of the county besides what the company will do as part of its corporate social responsibility. However, for years Bong Mines operated a lucrative concession and the road from Kakata, Margibi was never pave. Government was given the money by the company and these opportunities were squandered to pave the stretch of the road leading into Bong Mines and extending it beyond Bong Mines. I also, I live in Bong Mines for few months and I noticed that electricity and pipe borne water produced by the company didn’t benefit those outside the company operating areas, but only in areas that had housing occupied by staffs/employees of the company and the company areas of operations including their peer at the Freeport of Monrovia. These are some of the things our honorable law makers ignore once they received brown envelopes from these companies.
    Our law makers should focus along with the president to develop institutions that create an enabling environment for people to move in any part of the country to investment without the fear of corruption over taking the rights of investors by unscrupulous government officials who will go at length to demand down to Lebanese merchants to grant them some weekly or monthly incentives to avoid paying taxes to the national government. The country should be opened with pave and feeder roads to help farmers take their produce to the markets and for merchants and other investors to be able to invest in other parts of the country. Decentralizing Liberia is key to its national development. I have said it many times and let me reiterate. The area around Heindi in Bong County should be explored by the national government for a new Monrovia. There’s an abundant of land here that could be negotiated with people who live here and government can acquire the land to begin the construction of Monrovia where the new city will be layout and it will be inexpensive to build as compare to the Wetland President Weah proposed as the new Monrovia. Heindi has a dam and that can be transformed to a pristine tourist attraction with hotels and new buildings. Today’s Monrovia can be maintained as a commercial city and many of the embassies who preferred to remained by the Atlantic Ocean can remain in Monrovia because it is only about 2 to 3 hours drive from Monrovia to Heindi in Lower Bong County.
    If the county is split as is being proposed, these law makers are only interested in how much power that will be abrogated to them and not really to benefit the people of lower Bong or Bong Range County as is being suggested.

  3. I don’t know what the people of that region are going through or experiencing; however, for some selfish politician to suggest spleting the county and creating another will enable government/development fund to be allocated to create job and development opportunities in that region is just redecelous. Bong County is one, and the idea to sub-divide is not welcome. This is a strategy by those self-center politician to push their agenda, agenda that will benefit them and their family.

    I also noticed people people talking about Cuttington University, the technical collage being located in upper Bong and not in lower Bong. As the other gentlemen rightly said,those instructions are private own and if some politician want to use those instructions as a major development in upper Bong to justify sub-dividing the county is just silly. Maybe those people should propably do their research before suggesting something like this. The development of Liberia is something that must be felt in every corner of the country and every region of the counties and if any region of the county is missing out on important development initiative them the question should be put before the leadership of the county and make sure their voices is heard.

    Bong County is one don’t let those self- center politician bring division that will get you hate each other for their political gain.

  4. Dear All, I think this is evil and meant to divide our people against themselves; If the only reason for dividing the county is primarily developmental then we don’t have to. There are other ways that Lower Bong can be developed instead of division.

    We can meet, discuss and pass a set of recommendations or resolutions clearly suggesting the amount to be given to Lower Bong from the Social and County development funds for the development on an annual basis for a considerable number of years

    Representatives can use their power to Lobby in locating investors who will be interested in the natural resources of the county
    A review of the social agreement currently between China Union and the people must be called and evaluated and terms and conditions be followed

    Law Makers can create joint Ventures or corporations that would operate from Lower Bong, there will be development opportunities and employments

    There are so many things we can do to help Lower Bong county to develop but dividing the county should NEVER an option

  5. As a son of this country, specifically the region under discussion, I think it’s necessary to let the people have what they want and furthermore i don’t see how giving county status to one region will be a grievous problem amongst our people. There’s a need for serious concentration to be pay to this area and I think if given a county status it will ultimately receive greater degree of attention. For example; Gbapolu, River Gee are case studies, though development is not at 100% but people feel responsible to those counties and it will surely get attention whether someone likes it or not. There has not been an example of a region gaining county status where the avert has been entrench problems between
    the original region or area and the separated area. The cause is justified, go on people!

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