Senate Flexes Muscles: Public Works Minister Summoned on Contempt Charges

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Public Works Minister Antoinette Weeks has been summoned by the Senate to answer to “contempt” charge brought against her by two Senators, H. Dan Morais of Maryland County and George T. Tengbeh of Lofa County.

The Senate Plenary took the decision Thursday, May 29, based on complaints from both senators relating to the “poor state” of road networks in the country.

In a communication addressed to plenary, Maryland County Senator Morais expressed concern over the “inability of Madam Weeks to expedite the pavement of Harper-Fishtown Highway, which the Senate ratified since September 2, 2013 and the image of Liberia in the British Parliament bordering on alleged bribery that the Minister was asked to investigate since August 1, 2013.”

 The Fishtown-Harper Highway project is a loan agreement between African Development Bank (AfDB) and Liberia, intended to connect the Southeastern counties with the rest of the country and as well provide jobs for hundreds of Liberians in various disciplines.

According to Senator Morais, he communicated the plight of the region to Minister Weeks in early March 2014, but every attempt to personally meet her proved futile.

Relative to bribery allegation, Senator Morais disclosed that he was confronted with the matter during one of his diplomatic shuttles to the United Kingdom (UK) involving Ministry of Public Works for signing of certificates for works completed by a British company.  

Sen. Morais: “The matter was referred to me by Mr. Robert Curzon-Jones in the presence of two members of the British Parliament. I, however, demanded documentation in support of the allegation, and upon receipt of same, I wrote the Minister on August 1, 2013. I received a response on September 12, 2013 from Christian G. Herbert—the then acting minister acknowledging the Ministry’s indebtedness to GAP International, Inc. owned by Curzon-Jones, but with explanations which, in my mind, supported the alleged request for bribes as indicated by Curzon-Jones.

I wrote Minister Weeks on March 18, 2014 because of the negative image it has on Liberia. Again, I received no reply and therefore communicated to Senator Oscar Cooper, Chairman on Public Works requesting his intervention.

He later informed me that he had done exactly as I requested and was awaiting response from Minister Weeks. To date, I am yet to receive any such response on both counts as mentioned.”

The Maryland County Senator added, “It is against this backdrop that I herein request the summoning of Madam Antoinette Weeks, Minister of public Works to appear before full plenary of the Senate to answer to the insolence to me as Chairman on Foreign Relations of the Senate and the entire Senate.”

Lofa County Senator George T. Tengbeh also expressed similar concerns about roads connecting the Northern part of Liberia and maintained that Madam Weeks had been unwelcoming to most of their inquiries.

In the wisdom of the Senate, it is pivotal for Madam Weeks to answer to these questions on next Tuesday in Monrovia.

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