Public Works Minister Mobutu Nyenpan has assured the public that the government of President George Weah will complete three major unfinished projects in Gbarnga City, Bong County that were initiated by the administration of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Minister Nyenpan informed Gbarnga residents recently that President Weah’s administration is “very well sure” of completing major infrastructure projects started by the previous administration.
Among the ‘abandoned projects,’ according to Nyenpan, are the Bong County Technical College (BCTC), the pavement of Gbarnga Broad Street, and the Sirleaf Market, which he said the CDC-led government will complete in the coming months “for the good of the people of Bong County.”
BCTC and the pavement of the Gbarnga Broad Street schemes are projects funded through the County Social Development Funds (CSDF), except the Sirleaf Market Project, which was funded by “The Sirleaf Market Women Fund,” an international non-governmental organization comprising group of women around the world, who demonstrated their appreciation to Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as Africa’s first democratically-elected female president, and to restore livelihoods of market women.
Unfortunately, these projects are being grounded over four years ago, probably due to lack of funding or possibly political reasons.
Funding for the BCTC and the Broad Street pavement projects are provided by concessionaire companies operating in the county as a means of realizing benefits in keeping with their corporate social responsibility as enshrined in the Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) the concessionaire signed with the government.
Minister Nyenpan told reporters that his visit to Gbarnga was to assess the three projects, and then establish the costs to see how the government can complete those projects.
“We have come to Gbarnga to do the technical assessment, and meet with the relevant institutions of government to ensure that these projects are completed for the use of our people in Bong County,” he told reporters.
He did not state when construction works on these projects will commence, but assured the residents that works would resume in the coming months.
The BCTC was conceived in 2009 by the 52nd Legislative Caucus of Bong County, with then Senator Jewel Howard Taylor, and former Representative George Sylvester Mulbah, to address the growing demand of high school graduates in the county, who do not have the financial will power to enroll at Cuttington University.
By then, there were disagreements among the county officials over the construction of the BCTC. One group contended that the location of the college was too close to Cuttington University, and therefore, could undermine enrollment atCuttington. It is however alleged that money intended for the construction of the college has been misspent by some of the county officials, thereby slowing down the construction works.
Active works on the college started in September, 2010, with the agreement between the contractors and the county leadership that the first phase of the project, which comprised the school and the administration buildings, would have been completed in 2012. However, despite the county leadership spending almost US$7 million on the construction work, the project is yet to reach completion.
The BCTC commenced active academic activities since 2012 at the William V. S. Tubman-Gray High School, and later relocated at the main campus on the Gboveh Hill Community (far East) in 2015, but the college is yet to put out its first graduates.
It can however be recalled that vice President Taylor, then Senator was embroiled in controversy over how the funds allocated for the college have been spent. In one instance according to a FrontPage Africa report, then Senator Jewel Howard Taylor is reported to have written the MNG Gold requesting money for scholarships for students of the college and directing that the money be transferred to a bank account in Scotland.
She has since,however, denied culpability in the misappropriation of funds intended for the college but her former colleague in the Senate, Bong County Senator Henry Yallah, maintains that then Senator Jewel Howard Taylor was a signatory to the college account and is indeed linked to the misappropriation of the funds allocated for the construction of the college.
Speaking recently in an interview aired on Joy FM, Senator Yallah threatened to reveal damaging information if Vice President Taylor continues to insist that she had nothing to do with the college funds. But Vice President Taylor has so far not reacted to Senator Yallah’s comments.