Residents at the crossroads town of Gbarnga, Bong County, have hailed Internews-Liberia, a USAID funded media development NGO, for the one day Community Media Forum held at the Gbarnga Intellectual Center. The Community Media Forum was the first forum organized by Internews-Liberia under the Liberia Media Development Program (LMD).
The forum under the topic, “Delay in the completion of the Bong County Technical College, the challenges and prospects,” citizens said through the conduct of the forum, some of them were able to understand some of the factors responsible for the delay in the completion of the community college.
Some of the citizens admitted that since the construction of the college in December 2010, the forum was the first public gathering that informed them to understand the actual amount of money being infused into the college project.
At the forum, citizens were given the opportunity to ask the panelists and other stakeholders with questions as it relates to the delay in the completion of the project.
The program was attended by Bong County Electoral District #3 Representative George Sylvester Mulbah, the Assistant Superintendent for Development, Anthony Boakai Sheriff, the County Project Specialist, and Thomas Cisco, who was also one of the panelists, and scores of citizens from across the county.
The forum was addressed by three panelists drawn from the Project Management Committee (PMC) and Civil Society Organizations on the delay in the completion of the project.
Earlier, Internews-Liberia Senior Radio Advisor, Mrs. Torwon Sulonteh Brown, said the exercise seeks to increase citizens’ access to independent and consistent information and empower them engage in knowledgeable public discussion on issues affecting them.
Mrs. Brown told the gathering that as the result of the USAID interest in the development of the Liberian media, the forum was hosted with the intent to amplify morality of voices in the media by giving ordinary people or marginalized groups the opportunity for their voices to be heard.
USAID Deputy Team Leader, Ms. April O’Neill, informed the gathering that the forum was not intended to lash at the government for any wrong doing, but to provide the platform for citizens where they can see and engage key players involved with projects in their county.
Ms. O’Neill reminded the citizens that the exercise was meant to raise development issues overlooked by national media outlets at the local levels.
Meanwhile, Representative Mulbah formed the forum that the college was underestimated to the initial amount of US$ 2.5 million contrary to the recent US$5.5 million estimated by the Ministry of Public Works.
Mulbah then lauded Internews-Liberia for the forum and expressed the hope that the exercise will help to widen the citizens’ ideas on the current status of the college and other projects in the county.