A member of the United States House of Representatives has expressed interest in developing small hydro electrical power generation in Gbarpolu County to help rural dwellers access cheaper electricity.
Representative Dave Hagstrom from District #53 in the State of Montana said he has done some assessment of the county and found that power is a major problem there.
The US lawmaker, who is in the country to discuss possible investment plans, especially in Gbarpolu County, made the statement recently when he met with Senate Pro Tempore, Armah Zolu Jallah at the Capitol Building in Monrovia.
Representative Hagstrom informed Pro-Temp Jallah that back home in Montana electricity is cheaper because water resources have been developed to generate electricity. “Here in Liberia, I’m told you pay US$0.53 cents per kilowatt, but in Montana, a kilowatt costs US$0.9, Representative Hagstrom disclosed.
In response, Pro-Temp Jallah, who hails from Gbarpolu County, welcomed the initiative and called for more international partnerships that will spur economic growth in the country.
In a related development, Pro-Tempore Jallah has expressed the need for Liberia to identify its priorities in terms of adopting policies that will benefit its citizens, making specific reference to the indefinite cessation on logging activities by the government of Liberia saying, it is grossly undermining the economy of the country.
Senator Jallah explained that because of the ban, rural roads previously built by logging companies are in deplorable conditions and employment opportunities for local dwellers are non-existent.
He reckoned that government lacks the capacity to build rural roads and as such it relies on business institutions like the logging companies to assist.
“Liberia does not export computers, cars, phones etc. The economy of the country is dependent on export of rubber, timber, cocoa etc. When you stop these, you create hardship for your people” Pro-Temp Jallah declared.
The Pro-Temp cautioned that while international regulations help to minimize environmental risks, government should carefully study those protocols to ensure that the interest of its people are protected.
“Environmentalists such as Global Witness will tell your country to stop mining and logging because of concerns over climate change issues. But it is left with you, as a government to know that the same logging companies build your roads and employ your people, thus reducing the economic pressure on you” Senator Jallah noted.
He added, “These companies uphold our international treaty obligations in the International Tropical Timber Organization, ITTO and CBO etc.”
The Pro-Tempore disagrees with widespread assertions that logging activities are responsible for deforestation leading to climate change. According to him, most climate change issues are triggered by unhealthy practices such as shifting cultivation and subsistence farming mostly done by locals in developing countries, while pollution in the atmosphere from industrial countries are the most destructive.
The Gbarpolu lawmaker, whose county has some of the largest forest land in the country, then compared Liberia’s situation with that of Singapore, which years back, was just like Liberia.