In spite of budgetary allocations totaling US$14 million between 2010 and 2014 for the renovation of the Executive Mansion, the project appears to have no end in sight and Lawmakers want to know why. Therefore, a three-member Joint Committee comprising Public Works, Executive and Public Accounts, is expected to advise the 73-member Plenary of the House of Representatives on the status of the renovation of the Executive Mansion.
The advisement of the Joint Committee will entail whether the delay on the renovation works is legitimate or not.
The Executive Mansion, situated on Capitol Hill, Monrovia, is the official seat of the Liberian Presidency. It was constructed in 1964 under the regime of the late Liberian President William Vacanarat Shadrach Tubman by 2,000 workers, including about a fifth of Monrovia's labor force, and 150 foreign technicians.
The imposing, eight-storey Mansion, which costs US$20 million, is equipped with a bomb shelter, an underground swimming pool, a private chapel, a trophy room, a cinema, an emergency power plant, water supply and sewage system, among others.
But the Executive Mansion was damaged by fire in 2006, during Liberia's 159th Independence Day celebration, in the presence of three West African leaders at a time when the then newly elected President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf switched on electricity to reach limited parts of the capital city.
At the time, the cause of the fire at the Executive Mansion, according to South African forensic scientists, was an electrical fault.
Following the fire outbreak at the Executive Mansion, the Government of Liberia (GOL) announced a closure of the Mansion, and President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf relocated to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where she has been performing her official functions since then.
In the wake of the unfortunate incident, the National Legislature has over the fiscal periods appropriated the amounts of US$973,496 (2010/2011FY), US$1,230,078 (2011/2012FY), 2,000,000 (2012/2013FY) US$6, 466,667 (2013/ 2014FY) and US$6, 466,667 (2014/2015) for the renovation of the Mansion under the Public Sector Investment Plan and Technical Services budget of the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs.
The total amount that has been allocated for the renovation of the Executive Mansion stands at US$14,933,334.
A preliminary probe on the ruined Executive Mansion was made on Thursday, November 27 after the reading of a formal communication addressed to that August Body by Grand Bassa County District # 4 Representative Jeh Byron Brown.
His communication was read during the 24th day sitting of the Extraordinary Session of the House of Representatives. A motion for the acceptance of the Grand Bassa County lawmaker’s communication was filed by Nimba County Representative Worlea Saywah-Dunah.
In an interview with legislative reporters at his Capitol Building office in Monrovia, Rep. Brown stated that the Mansion is not only the official home of the Liberian President, but it also hosts reception and accommodates foreign guests and dignitaries.
The Capitol Building is the seat of the Legislature.
Speaking further, Rep. Brown recalled that for over five years, the Liberian government has been using local hotels to host foreign guests and dignitaries entering into the country.
This, he said, has caused a huge loss of money to the Liberian government.
He asserted that the money was exclusively set aside by the Legislature not only for the renovation of the Executive Mansion, but also for the relocation of the offices of the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs.
He termed as "unfair" to the Liberian people the prolonged delay in the rehabilitation of the Executive Mansion.
The Grand Bassa lawmaker averred that the renovation contracts were given to the Chinese Company CNQC QINGJIAN International, Liberia Group Development Incorporated and others (whom he did not name) that were hired to carry out the work, but the work is yet to be accomplished.
"In an effort to restore the physical structure and other important architecture of the building, this Legislative body has consistently placed money in the National Budget since the occurrence of the ill-fated event. I believe it will be an appreciated undertaking as a matter of fulfilling a crucial Legislative oversight, were we to inquire into the current state of the Executive Mansion with particular reference to the level of work that has been done in commensuration with the amount of financial resources that have been approved over the budget years," the Liberty Party lawmaker stated.