Following a heated debate that took most the late afternoon session, the Senate plenary yesterday mandated its Secretary to cite Minister of Public Works, Gyude Moore to appear before that body on Tuesday, May 31, 2016.
According to the motion citing Minister Moore, he is to inform the lawmakers who are responsible to make budget appropriations on what arrangements are being put in place to help avert the perennial situation that is hampering the movement of people, goods and services particularly in the Southeast.
The Senate decision came as a result of a communication from Grand Gedeh County Senator A. Marshall Dennis in which he, among other things, reminded his colleagues about the “increasingly worsening living conditions of our people nationwide with particular emphasis and focus on the Southeastern region of Liberia, that include Grand Gedeh, River Gee, Maryland, Grand Kru and Sinoe Counties.”
Senator Marshall’s communication recalled that the Senate in October 2015 invited Minister Moore and his Deputy for Expenditure at the height of the rainy season, during which appearance the Minister promised a temporary remedy to the prevailing situation and permanent solution for the 2016 rainy season and beyond.
Marshall recalled that “neither was done and our people went through; we are now entering the 2016 rainy season with no prospect as l see it.
Distinguished colleagues, I find it very proper and impelling that the Senate once cite the Honorable Minister of Public Works and Transportation through the appropriate Senate Committee, in keeping with our oversight authority, to apprise us of the conditions of these roads and the assurances that the hazardous humanitarian crisis usually provoked by these conditions (shortage of essential commodities such as rice, fuel, medical supplies and other basic necessities of life) would be averted this time around.
During the debate that accompanied the letter, Senators from the southeast decried the worsening road conditions, while some recalled that there was the amount of U$4 million in the last budget for road maintenance and renovation.
The usage of the money allotted for maintenance and renovation then became a center for debate with some lawmakers accusing the Public Ministry of concentrating on repairing roads in Monrovia while paying less attention to the hinterland.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Works, Margibi County Senator Oscar Cooper agreed that the roads and bridges are all in need of repair.
In another development, the plenary yesterday sanctioned the joint statement released Tuesday night by both the Senate and House of Representatives in reaction to Senator Varney Sherman’s letter in which he complained about the deployment of heavily armed state security at his residence.
Except for Senators Cooper and Jonathan Kaipay who argued against its legitimacy, Senators present unanimously agreed that the Legislators action of implied solidarity with their colleague was in place.
The session was earlier delayed due to the invasion of the premises of the Capitol Building by hundreds of rowdy students of the University of Liberia demanding an increment in Government’s budgetary appropriation to that institution against a suggested increment in tuitions. Attempts by some Legislators from the House of Representatives to find remedy to the situation failed as the leaderless group refused to listen.
Meanwhile, few arrests were made by the riot police and the Capitol Building remained occupied by security forces for the rest of the day.