A national conference to address the growing boundary disputes among counties began yesterday, September 17, in the commercial city of Ganta, Nimba County.
The conference, under the theme, “Resolving Boundary Disputes to Enhance Good Governance, Peace and Reconciliation,” brought together all county superintendents as well as assistant superintendents for development and fiscal affairs and county inspectors.
Traditional leaders led by Chief Zanzan Karwor, are among other local leaders, including city mayors, who are present at the occasion.
In his opening statement, the Minister of Internal Affairs (MIA), Varney Sirleaf, said the conference is expected to identify a roadmap for the resolution of boundary disputes in the country and provide capacity building for the newly appointed officials.
He said boundary disputes must be resolved, because President George Weah wants to ensure the country remains peaceful at all fronts.
“Boundary disputes between counties and within the counties cannot be a cause for confusion in our country; we must therefore resolve them,” Sirleaf said.
Minister Sirleaf, who attended the conference with nearly all his deputies and assistant ministers, encouraged local officials to report all cases of boundary disputes, so that collectively they can find a way to solve them.
The conference, which is funded by the Carter Center, USAID (United States Agency for International Development) and the Swedish Government will be training local officials in Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC) compliance, MIA and County Procurement Process, hiring replacement and firing, the Civil Service Agency (CSA) Standing Orders, public financial management regulations and compliance in line with implementing budget and County/Social Development Fund.
Other topics for discussion include the role of the Carter Center in local governance, decentralization, looking at the County Service Centers, the local government bill and its immediate implications when passed and issues pertaining to the revitalization of communal farming.
The opening session allowed each county superintendent to report on existing boundary and land disputes confronting their respective counties.
Grand Kru superintendent Madam Doris N. Ylatun urged the minister to respond to the growing boundary dispute between Grand Kru and Maryland before it spills beyond their control.
Ylatun said some citizens of Maryland County have sold all their lands to a concession company known as MOP and now they have crossed over to lands in Grand Kru for farming which is becoming tense day by day.
Minister Sirleaf explained the role tradition and culture play in the running of local government and encouraged county officials to respect their traditional and cultural roles in the development of their counties.