-After 28 years of neglect
The buildings are dilapidated. The roofs are rotting and some have caved in, the walls damp and ornamented by algae. This description is that of the Forestry Training Institute (FTI), in Tubmanburg, Bomi County.
The school, which once trained Liberians in forestry and surveying, ceased its operations in early 1980.
Since then, most current surveyors lacked sufficient exposure to survey methods that are conducted with modern technology.
The school’s administration and the World Bank (WB), in December 2018 signed a US$200,000 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the construction of some of its dilapidated structures, according to Executive Director Jeremiah Karmo.
However, Karmo said, the money is yet to be given by the World Bank.
Karmo made the assertion recently at the launch of the USAID-funded Land Governance Support Authority (LGSA) Geomatics Education Program in Bomi County.
The program is a 10-month training that is supported by USAID, which has a partnership with the FTI. It also seeks to train students in geomatics education, with the aim of producing survey technicians that will go on to support the Liberian land sector. Graduates of the program will be awarded technical level certificate.
Located about 20 minutes’ drive from Tubmanburg in a community of about 12,000 residents, the school in Bomi County has no fence.
Although a large part of the school building is still in a state of dilapidation, the USAID-funded Land Governance Support Activity (LGSA) in partnership with the FTI administration managed to construct about 4 of its facilities, which include two dormitories, a computer lab, and classroom, Karmo disclosed.
“But the remaining classrooms and the teachers’ quarters are yet to be constructed, and we are waiting on the World Bank’s funding,” Karmo indicated.
“LGSA constructed the classrooms and had them furnished. But we do not know what is holding back the other part of the project, like funds from the World Bank,” Karmo noted.
In 2019, Karmo said, the government budgeted US$300,000, but it has been very slow in disbursement.
“Right now to feed students on campus is very difficult. It’s LGSA that is right now providing fuel for our generators and other facilities,” Karmo said. “And right now we are indebted to our vendors and wondering how to get the money to settle arrears.”
He said the government’s approved budget cannot is not enough for the operational expenses of the institute.
And despite the budgetary provision from the government, evidence suggests that more needs to be done by donors and development partners, to ensure the implementation of the Land Rights Law and the Liberia Land Authority (LAA) functions.