Director, Liberia National Fire Service: The 54 year old act of the lNFS is obsolete and in need of serious reform
With just about five months to the October presidential and legislative elections, the Assistant Justice Minister for Public Safety yesterday urged members of the legislature to urgently prioritize the passage of the remaining security reform bills.
Attorney Fredrick Gbemie said although the lawmakers have passed most of the security reform bills, there were still major challenges facing the passage of the remaining ones.
“Those bills that the lawmakers have not passed into law,” Gbemie said, “are the public safety reform bills. The amendment to the criminal procedure law, the Bureau of Correction and Rehabilitation to grant it more autonomy as well as the bill on the reform of the Liberia National Fire Service are yet to be passed.”
Gbemie sounded the call as one of the panelists at the Wilfred E. Clark Forum on Social Justice and the Rule of Law in Monrovia.
The gathering, organized by the Liberia National Law Enforcement Association (LNLEA), brought together security personnel and civil society organizations. It was hosted under the theme, “Prospects and Challenges of Enacting Key Remaining Security Legislations before the 53rd Legislature comes to a close in January 2018.”
Gbemie said the public safety bill also provides regulatory mechanisms for the oversight responsibility of private security institutions.
The importance of the bills, he said, is to also help address the challenges confronting the coordination and collaboration between the private security sector and national security.
Gbemie said the upcoming October election was one of the challenges to the passage of the bills.
“Most lawmakers do not attend sessions anymore because they are concentrating on their re-election so to get them back to work to pass these remaining important bills is highly unlikely,” Gbemie lamented.
“They are also thinking about the huge financial implication that is associated with the creation of a new structure which is making them reluctant to pass any more bills,” Gbemie observed.
“We have to mobilize civil society organizations to put more pressure on the lawmakers to have these bills passed or else after this election, we will find it very difficult to have them passed by the next legislature,” Gbemie worried.
Another panelist, Warsuwah Barvoui, director of the Liberia National Fire Service, said the present act of the Service was obsolete and in need of serious reform.
“This act is 54 years old now and it cannot address the reality of today. Therefore we have to mobilize every available means for the passage of the bill,” urged Barvoui.
“At 52 years, we cannot boast of any fire experts because the old law does not address capacity building of the service,” Mr. Barvoui chided.
“We have been treated like a stepchild and so we have to pass the bill for our stepchild status to be changed, because the law is dilapidated,” said Barvoui.
He pointed out that the fire service was never part of the security sector restructuring exercise, a situation that remains debatable.