The head of the European Union (EU) delegation to Liberia, Ambassador Tiina Intelmann, says it is not enough for the EU and other international partners to financially support Liberia’s infrastructural program. While maintenance remains an integral part, she said that it must, however, be carried out by Liberians.
Ambassador Intelmann, expressing this concern last Friday at an interactive forum with the media in Monrovia, said: “We know that good things are going on in Liberia, while at the same time we are not ruling out the presence of corruption. Infrastructures have been built in the country, but why are Liberians not able to care for what they already have?”
Ambassador Intelmann, expressing the need for updates on the statuses of infrastructures in the country, then urged the media to be proactive in their reportage; not only to follow political activities, but to report on the fate of the infrastructures and what approaches community members are taking to maintain them.
As part of its projects in Liberia, the EU supports maintenance of the roads from the ELWA junction to Buchanan and the one beginning from the St. Paul Bridge to Bo Waterside, terminating at the Liberia-Sierra Leone border.
The EU in this process will hire local contractors to brush the sides of the roads and clean the drainages.
Other EU diplomats that joined the Ambassador said in separate but concurring views that government is not the only agent responsible for the upkeep of facilities erected around the country, and called on community members and local authorities clothed with the responsibilities to supervise the various functions to also play their part.
One diplomat said, “For instance, schools have been built and the buildings are there. The government will not be in every part to supervise the maintenance work, but the DEOs, CEOs, principals, community leaders and members should take the initiative to maintain these facilities by providing oversight.”
The EU also has budgetary allocations to design coastal highways in the southeastern counties including Sinoe, Rivercess and Maryland, and the northeast, including the road from Sanniquellie in Nimba County to Dananè in Ivory Coast.
The head of the National Authorizing Office (NAO), Jerry Taylor, explaining this aspect of the EU’s projects, clarified that designing these roads is meant to exactly sketch out their future outlook and estimate their construction costs.
Following that, Mr. Taylor said the EU can then help to seek funding which when received Liberia will be able to repay.
Explaining the EU’s diplomatic mission in Liberia, the Charge d’Affairs, Emma Sundblad, outlined trade policy, foreign and security policy, development policy and political relations as key areas of concern.
Besides development policy, including the maintenance of infrastructures and support to the health and education sectors, the EU’s trade link is in the forestry and fishery sectors in Liberia.
Also, Liberia and the EU have the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) that governs exporting logs to Europe. Under the agreement, all logs leaving Liberia to the EU are identified with certain inscriptions and licenses before they can be allowed into the EU market.
At the political level, the EU supports the National Elections Commission (NEC) in the process leading to the conduct of peaceful elections.
According to its current forecast budget, the EU has €279 million (US$310 million) in its budget for Liberia, covering 2014 to 2020.
Of this amount, allotments have been made to various sectors including energy, governance, agriculture and education. According to the EU, 107 million euros is set for governance; 100 million for energy; 32 million for education; 30 million for agriculture; and 10 million for the National Elections Commission (NEC).
In response to a question about the pending 2017 elections, Charge d’Affairs Sundblad said the EU has no part to play in how Liberians decide, through the democratic process, who leads them after this government.
She said the EU’s interest is to see leaders who have integrity, are sincere, honest, transparent and interested in the development of the country.