A former Deputy Managing Director for Operations at the Liberia Lottery, Christopher Togba, is calling on Vice President Joseph N. Boakai, who has oversight responsibility for the national lottery, to pay his salary arrears, which he claimed the entity has owed him for more than nine years. However, the office of the Vice President says the Mr. Boakai only has “oversight responsibility” over the running of the Liberia Lottery, which does not necessarily allow him (VP) to run the entity.“Having an oversight responsibility of an area is different from running the organization. Therefore, the VP will not run the day to day activities of an area which he has an oversight responsibility,” George Saah, director of media relations in the office of the VP told the Daily Observer via mobile phone yesterday.“We are not afraid of anything from anywhere,” Mr. Saah told this newspaper.But according to Mr. Togba, who was placed on “Administrative Leave with Pay” since March 22, 2007, the entire administrative decision bore the signature of Vice President Joseph N. Boakai. “It has been more than nine years since your letter of administrative leave,” Togba told the Vice President in a letter, “yet you have still failed to resolve what you affixed your signature to.”Mr. Togba further said despite several interventions from the office of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to pay his just salary and benefits, which has accrued to the sum of US$284,382.58 (Two hundred eighty-four thousand, three hundred eighty-two United States dollars and fifty-eight cents), the VP’s office continues to do nothing to resolve the problem. “Vice President,” he said, “you and your management team at the Lottery have not only reneged on what you wrote in your March 22, 2007 letter, but you continue to employ divisive means.”Additionally, “since I have been on ‘Administrative Leave’ (with pay) as per your directive, you have always been furnished with the accrued sum of my salary and benefits, including copies of my monthly salary-check prior to the March 22, 2007 decision, but you still fail to pay my money and benefits.“I am therefore calling on you, Mr. Boakai, to please pay me and stop this act reminiscent of the ugly and evil past of our country,” Togba concluded in his letter.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
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The Snapper Hill Headquarters of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) was yesterday a scene of celebration when the bank’s employees, well dressed in African attire of various types put on a lively show in observance of Africa Day (formerly Africa Liberation Day), celebrated on May 25 each year. The UBA celebration, which began as early as 8:00 a.m. prior to opening for business, included captivating drumming and dancing by the attractively dressed employees, perhaps the only ones giving the day any sense of festivity and African culture. Africa Day is celebrated annually on May 25 to mark the determination of the people of Africa to liberate the continent from foreign domination and exploitation.Writes C.Y. Kwanue; photos by Lindiwé KhumaloShare this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
The Act establishing the Peace Island Community as a Borough was sponsored by Montserrado County District # 10 Representative Julius BerrianBy Leroy M. Sonpon IIIThe Peace Island Community, popularly known as ‘540,’ in Congo Town is headed for a borough status, through an Act approved by the House of Representatives.The Act was approved into law by members of the House of Representatives on Tuesday, June 6.The House passed the Act based on a report by the Joint Committee on Judiciary, Ways, Means, Finance and Development Planning and Internal Affairs.“Taking into consideration the rapid growth in population, about thirty-eight thousand (38,000) inhabitants on Peace Island as well as infrastructure development such as schools, clinics, recreation centers, churches, and mosques; and realizing that these residents are peaceful Liberian citizens and have lived on the Peace Island in the Township of Congo Town for the past 20 years, we therefore, crave the indulgence of the plenary to pass this Act into law,” the Joint Committee’s report said.If the law is concurred by the Senate and attested to by the President, the borough shall be headed by a Governor, who will be appointed by the President.It will have a nine-member council to have geographical balance and be subject to elections for a period of four years, and a Magisterial Court will be established for its administration.The Act was sponsored by Montserrado County District # 10 Representative Julius Berrian.Rep. Berrian told reporters that the creation of the Borough of Peace Island is meant to buttress government’s efforts to implement the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as well as the Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS).The lawmaker said “it is an inevitable need for the creation of the Borough of Peace Island Community in order to enhance the livelihood of the more than 38,000 persons” resident there.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Former Mighty Barrolle head coach Tyrance Dixon instructs players after regular training session. (Photo credit: Anthony Kokoi.) Having been relegated to the second tier of the Liberian national league, the “Sunshine Yellow Boys” – Invincible Eleven (IE), have intensified their regular training sessions ahead of the pending league season.IE was last season relegated to the second division after finishing at the bottom of the 12-team table. Though the ‘Yellow Boys’ became stronger during the final half of the season, it was, however, late for them to remain in the league following their poor performance in the first half of the season.For the past weeks, the team have been conducting justification sessions in their quest to recruit new players. During yesterday’s training session, former Mighty Barrolle coach Tyrance Dixon was spotted conducting basic training with the players after being away from the touchline since phase two of last season.Since the climax of last season, IE have only announced the appointment of coach Thomas Kojo as Technical Director. It is yet unclear whether coach Dixon is taking over from former head coach Samuel Sumo, who is currently leading County Meet football champions Montserrado County.Coach Sumo took over IE during the second half of last season and managed to secure three wins and two draws out of 11 games. He conceded his worst defeat in his first match at the Blue Field after his team was thrashed 6-0 by BYC.IE will compete in the second division next season along with traditional rivals Mighty Barrolle that were also relegated after finishing in the 10th position, with 24 points out of 22 games.In another development, club president Sekou Keita has congratulated former IE player George Weah on his achievement as President-elect of Liberia. According to Mr. Keita, Weah deserves the post due to his humanitarian gestures over the years. He expressed hope that the ascendancy of Weah will be a great help to the club that he played for during the early stage of his football career.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Sebastian A. Gibson, Deputy Director for Administration, LDEAThe Daily Observer yesterday learned that the individual President George Weah nominated as Deputy Director for Administration at the Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency (LDEA) was among five officers the LDEA dismissed in 2015 for constant bribe-taking.The act, LDEA said, violates part-1, count 20.0 of its code of conduct. The affected officers were also charged with extortion from drug suspects, which is also in contravention of chapter 15 of section 15.51 of the penal law of Liberia, the Agency said at the time.In his March 13 appointment, President Weah nominated the former LDEA dismissed agent, Sebastian A. Gibson, as Deputy Director for Administration at the same Agency.Until his dismissal on September 1, 2015, by authorities of the Agency, Gibson was the deputy chief of training, according to our investigation.Other officers that were dismissed along with Gibson were Prince Harris, chief of intelligence; Darius Davies, secretary to the Board of Internal Investigations and Professional Standards; Albert Hare, deputy chief investigator; and Eugene Quiah, chief of operations assigned in Bong County.Gibson’s dismissal was in line with prescribed penalties for violations of the Agency’s Duty Manual Category D, count/Dot-17 and page 45 of the Agency’s code of conduct.“You intruded the home of Madam Amelia Gaye of Johnson Street where you intimidated, harassed and took bribe in the amount of L$6,000 and extorted US$1,000 respectively under the pretense of protecting her from the LDEA’s arrest and prosecution for her alleged involvement in the sale of illegal drugs,” Gibson’s dismissal letter said at the time.He and other affected officers were ordered to turn over all properties in their possessions to the head of the human resource department, and to act accordingly by reporting in three days to the authorities after they were disrobed.“While we are trying diligently to bring sanity to the country in the wake of United Nations Mission of Liberia’s (UNMIL’s) drawdown from the country, there are some bad apples among us undermining our security sector and, therefore, we have with immediate effect dismissed the five so far caught in the act of extortion,” a paragraph of Gibson’s dismissal letter noted.Those the President nominated, along with Gibson, are Cllrs. Daku Mulbah Solicitor General, Nyananti Tuan, Deputy Minister for Codification, Atty. Kou Doliae, Deputy Minister for Economic Affairs, Juah Nancy Cassell Deputy Minister for Administration and Atty. Meo Dabbah Beyan Assistant Minister for Economic AffairsOthers include Augustine Flomo, Deputy Minister for Economic Management, Benedict Kolubah Assistant Minister for Regional and Sectoral Planning, Abraham Korvah, Assistant Minister for Micro- economic and Financial Policy; Nigel Sieh Appleton, Assistant Director for Operations and VIP Services, National Security Agency. These nominations and appointments are awaiting confirmation by the Senate.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Illicit artisanal mining ongoing in many parts of rural LiberiaScientists concerned about occupational safety and health, policy directives control in mining, artisanal mining sector By Alfred Wreh and Borwen L. SayonOn February 14, 2019 Liberia heard of a fatal mining accident in Gbanepea Gold Mine in Gbanepea Town, Near Tappita City, Nimba County where a shaft compartment collapsed and trapped over forty persons. Over forty miners were buried in the rubble underground in what eyewitness describe as a landslide.The government in solidarity with the families of victims in the tragedy declared a national day of mourning, postponed cabinet meeting and though the environmental scientists welcome the idea, they have described the situation an “emergency and gross case of environmental negligence”.Alfred Wreh, a natural resources researcher and circular economist claims his analyses of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH), policy directives control in mining, artisanal mining sector demonstrated “widespread and consistent failure” to protect land cover, prevent disaster and improve water quality. ‘I know first-hand this is gross negligence, non-compliance and a major concern of OSH in the artisanal mining sector. It is appalling the way the people across the mining communities are treated.’Borwen L. Sayon, another NRM professional noted, I have visited the mines and seen mining agents only standing by to collect taxes, fees and bribes for licensure. These agents who are not performing their duties get rich and do nothing in relations to mine safety, hazard prevention, pollution control, environmental degradation, restoration and even drugs addiction.The Ministry of Mines and Energy oversees the mining sector. In 2017 an artisanal mining policy was developed and approved to regulate the performance of Class C mining operation. One of the primary reasons for the policy development is to prevent hazards through effective implementation of the regulations especially on mine safety. The mining agent (s) on duty and the Environmental Protection Agency inspectorate has the oversight to ensure compliance. But every year we are confronted with situation of either disaster, pollution, and overall, cascading effects of forest and land degradation with zero plans for reclamation through restoration activities Mr. Sayon said.What happened in Gbanepea is not something new in the mining industry, but rather a continuation of mining tragedies like the one happened in No Way Camp, Marloi Township, in Central Glaakon Statutory District No. 2, Grand Bassa County January 2015, No Way Camp Grand Cape Mount October 2013 and the explosion which occurred at a rubber processing plant owned by the Liberian Agricultural Company (LAC) based in District #3, Grand Bassa County, trapping miners and injuring 17 in the case of the explosion among others.Mr. Wreh and Sayon both agree that the current mining license program should cease “immediately”, including the granting of additional class C licenses, until a comprehensive, independent review of recent operations including health and safety is completed and a national Occupational Safety and Health measures are instituted. In May 2018, the President of Liberia suspended the mining licensure in a bid to safeguard Liberia’s natural resources and due to financial irregularities. The suspension by the Liberian leader mandated a thorough review of the safeguards, unfortunately the public has yet to be informed about the outcomes of the review, and or, which policies has been amended for implementation.According to the scientists, mining is one of the riskiest occupations, and they wonder why were precautionary steps not taken? Mr. Wreh and Sayon said authorities at the Ministries of Mines, Labour, and the EPA and mine owners must be held accountable for this gross negligence. The ministry of labour is responsible for labour standards on OSH reporting requirements and wonder why there is no coordination between these statutory bodies?Ask them for their books, a record for hazards and mine safety and health administration. Since the start of current operations back in 2005, virtually none exist, and the ministry new leadership has yet to release any mining hazards report nor do we have any database. The hazards database is a compilation of potential hazards in the sector, the mechanisms driving those hazards, their risk factor including sources, health effects and controls needed for those mechanisms and legislative requirements. Mining is responsible for about eight percent of fatal accidents at work, we cannot continue to disregard the environment and potential threats to citizens Mr. Wreh intoned.The young environmental researcher said the fatality at Gbanepea is not only an environmental crime; it is a crime against humanity due to negligence. The lack of environmental protection and surveillance plus the negligence of mining companies are to be blamed.David Zubah, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) inspector in Nimba County, said the Gbanepea Gold Mine is an “environmental death trap,” and therefore, the government should order its immediate closure, this was shortly after he arrived at the gold mine on Wednesday, February 13 after the miners had died in the landslide.The action of the EPA inspector and the silence of the Director for Mines after the tragedy is an act of total disregard for the rights and safety of the people and the law of the land; it seems to suggest that the rights of the people are dispensable, while investment is indispensable and next the entire land gets altered and next is a horrible calamity and loss. People are now mourning because of the negligence of mining companies and our regulators, which shouldn’t be the case. These actions and inactions by the regulators are serious example of maladministration in public administration regarding environmental protection and sustainable development. The inactions of these regulatory institutions led to yet another emblematic environmental disaster of our time, one that continues and one that could easily happen again.Under the environmental protection and management law, environmental management is a vital component of mining and all mining claim holder are obliged to prepare detailed environmental impact assessments, indicating how they will mitigate environmental problems such as air, disaster, biodiversity and water pollution. Claim holders failing to meet these statutory requirements must face prosecution, fines or the withdrawal of their operating licenses.The flagrant violations are the result of government ministries and agencies simply shifting the rectification tasks after incidents and then leaving them alone without providing solutions.Borwen Sayon writes that, Liberia is experiencing a rapid expansion of exploration and extractive activities of natural resources including oil, timber, iron ore, gold, and diamond. After Nimba disaster, the best thing we can do is to prevent further disaster by becoming resilient is the implementation of the ILO’s Safety and Health in Mines Convention; we have been a member since June 28, 1919; regular Environmental, Occupational Health and Safety Audits, and periodic mines inspection and environment and social impact assessments. All of these are in conformity with the Environment Protection and Management Law of Liberia.Since 1919, the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations has received only three consistent reports from Liberia, 1931, 1962 and 2003. As such we are concern that under the terms of ratification, Liberia is not meeting her obligations under the Safety and Health in Mines Convention. What this means is our lack of environmental and social due diligence leads to legal penalties provided the families of victims decide to act under our regulatory frameworks or the Safety and Health in Mines Convention, Mr. Wreh said this is a failure of Supply and Demand of Environmental Protection and Quality, Climate and the Ethics of our Environmental Policy.“We have got the abundance of natural resources, if you are going to exploit it for growth and development, why not pay attention to the environment and occupational safety concerns?”. The real solutions are being ignored, especially by those representing the government in the sector. These are working on sustainable development by tackling climate change, environmental degradation and the obvious one, managing water quality better and improving safety. Mr Wreh said.We are deeply concerned at the way our people are violating the environmental laws. Our laws are one of the best across the region, but implementation is the biggest problem,” said Mr. WrehEvery time an accident happens it is a question of people being negligent, or the machines being manned by unqualified people, or they are not aware of pollution. Companies must comply with the law and government must enforce the law to the letter as a deterrent to other would-be offenders.The government must see the importance of improving endeavours to ensure mining disasters preparedness. We call on them to see this as an imperative beyond just the declaration of mourning, sealing off mine sites, cancelling cabinet meetings, but to engage many partners in constructive dialogue to promote consensus building and enforcement of our mining regulatory and environmental frameworks.We would like to share the following recommendations on how to prevent repeated accidents.Health Safety and Environment (HSE) Compliance: The Environment Protection and Management Law require all operators to submit for review and approval a plan; periodic talk about safety, conduct safety audits, awareness, straight compliance and encourages suggestions from employees for improving safety. Make this a top priority.Introduce range of OHS courses and licensure: To ensure Liberia has the human capacity to implement OHS, we recommend authorities of the TVET program and higher institutions of learning integrate courses and award licenses in collaboration with EPA to promote health and safety foundations. Acquiring OHS through higher education incorporates broad principals including ethics and integrity, legal aspects, and psychological hazards in the occupational environment.Review of Mine Disaster Prevention and Control Directive: Authorities can liaise with partners to by funding Research that place more focus on areas such as communications, self-rescue, and emergency response. Introduce effective engineering controls to prevent, detect, and mitigate mine disasters.Introduce effective engineering controls to prevent, detect, and mitigate mine disasters.Assist mining communities to improve mine escape, rescue, and emergency response capabilities through realistic training exercises and implementation of new or improved training programs.Periodic joint interagency environmental and safety auditsEnsure all work places develop Work Health and Safety Hazard Identification and Risk Management procedures, develop a national Hazards database and implementation of the Mine Safety ConventionRegulatory agencies must be trained, and companies must train their staff. Safety on the job depends skills, knowledge, awareness, and judgment. Training a vital part of education and awareness strengthens and develops all these safety essentials.Government must emphasize hazard detection and reporting. Keep alert and investigate every incident. Whether it was a near miss or an accident that caused injuries and damage, investigate until the hazard has been corrected.Safety attitude is vital for safe workplace. But it will not happen overnight. This means, repeatedly reinforcing regulations, act on close calls and hold people accountable, implement procedures and adhere to environmental and OHS legislation.About the AuthorsAlfred Wreh is an Environmental Sustainability Researcher, a Scholar, Circular Economist, Environmentalist, Conservationist, Natural Resources Practitioner and a Concern Citizen with qualification in “Disasters and Ecosystems: Resilience in a Changing Climate; understanding the link between Environment, Disasters and Disaster Risk Reduction” from TH Köln University of Applied Sciences. He is a member of several International Environmental groups including the International Society for Industrial Ecology.Borwen L. Sayon is a Conservation, Environment, and Natural Resource Management Practitioner with over ten years’ experience in Liberia. He has held senior management positions with Government of Liberia and international non-governmental organizations. He has also coordinated the development of Liberia’s National Strategy on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) funded by the World Bank. He holds academic awards from the University of Calfornia, Berkeley, Cuttington University and is a candidate for Masters in Environmental Leadership at Nicholas School of Environment, Duke University Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
– as New Year breaks without Police Service CommissionBack in 2017, President David Granger had assured that by year end, the Police Service Commission would be reconstituted. This however, has not happened and the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) is expressing concerns over the commission being in limbo.Former Home Affairs Minister Clement RoheeDuring the PPP’s end of year press conference, the Opposition’s point man on security, Clement Rohee, took the Government to task for its unfulfilled promise. According to Rohee, the fact that no consultative process has commenced to identify persons for the Commission is significant.“The President, making a reckless statement, pronounced that he will ensure that by the end of 2017 (December 31), he will have in place a new Police Service Commission. This, of course, is virtually impossible given the consultative process that has to be conducted in order for members of the Commission to be identified to serve,” Rohee said.“As a result of the absence of a Police Service Commission, there’s not likely to be any (senior) promotions, which is traditional at the end of each year. So promotions will be absent from the leadership of the Police Force at the end of 2017. In addition, President Granger had announced that the one-month bonus would not be granted to members of the disciplined forces once again.”With that in mind, the former Home Affairs Minister classified the pledge to reconstitute the Commission as just another empty promise. With effect from the last day of the year 2017, 204 junior Police ranks were promoted. No one above the rank of Sergeant was promoted.The life of previous Commission came to an end in September 2017The Police Service Commission is tasked with promotions of officers above the rank. It also handles disciplinary matters for officers. The life of the previous Commission ended in September. Last year, the previous Commission had prepared a list of senior officers to promote; that is, until directives were given by Granger to halt the promotions.In August, former PSC Chairman Omesh Satyanand had made known that after a meeting with the other commissioners it was decided that they were going to adhere to the order to halt all promotions until further notice.Even the Chairman had expressed concern that halting the entire promotion process would be a blow to senior officers. He had noted that these officers have invested time and energy in building a career at the Guyana Police Force and were expecting their just reward.But noting that this was the first time a sitting President had issued such a directive to the Commission, he had called for some clarity and justification as to the circumstances that led to making such a decision.A perusal of the PSC’s list would show that among those who were scheduled to be promoted were several senior officers who were hauled before the Commission of Inquiry (COI) into an assassination plot against President David Granger.Some of the chosen ones included Assistant Commissioner of Police Clifton Hicken. He was tipped to be promoted to Deputy Commissioner of Police, Senior Superintendent Wendell Blanhum had been lined up for Assistant Commissioner.Head of Special Branch, Brian Eastman, was also listed to become a Senior Superintendent of Police, while Head of Major Crimes, Assistant Superintendent Mitchell Caesar had been recommended for Deputy Superintendent.Over the course of the CoI, a number of officers were summoned and even upbraided for their work during the investigation. Besides the senior officers, junior officers were also criticised by Assistant Commissioner Paul Slowe, who was appointed by the President.While the President had justified this move by saying that concerns were expressed about the officers, a court ruling had declared that the intervention was unconstitutional. In the November 22 court ruling on halting the promotion list, the Chief Justice (acting) established that the President did breach the Constitution when he issued a directive to halt promotions.
The Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) recently launched its second sub-office in Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) at the Lotus Mall in Parika, East Bank Essequibo.According to head of the utility company, Dr Richard Van West-Charles, the new building was constructed with the intention of serving 30,000 customers, not just within the region but from neighbouring areas.Dr Richard Van West-Charles addressing the gathering at the launching of the new sub-office in Parika, East Bank Essequibo“This opens a gateway to Region Two, Leguan, Wakenaam, to Bartica, which allows us to be in constant communication, where we are looking at various options whereby customers can pay their bills, check their bills and their balances and report to us,” he is quoted by the Department of Public Information as saying.Also speaking at the launching of the new office was the Deputy Regional Executive Officer (DREO), Jennifer Ferriera-Dougall, who related that the new office will eliminate the unnecessary journey that customers have to take to the Pouderoyen, West Bank Demerara branch, in order to have their bills paid. As such, their bills will be paid on time and this will reduce the number of disconnections in the future.The construction of this new branch will also aid in the retrieval of outstanding revenues, ensure revenues are collected on time and provide better services to their customers.There have been discussions about GWI partnering with the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GTT) so as to give customers in Parika the opportunity to pay their utility bills online via the Mobile Money app. There are also plans to construct another branch in Mahdia, Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni) in the latter part of 2018.The Managing Director also related that the company will work in the future to address the concerns of their customers, as it relates to the effectiveness of meters, leakages and urges them to report any instances where vandalism may arise.
Ten minors who were being held at the New Opportunity Corps (NOC) in Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) have reportedly been recaptured after escaping from the facility, according to unconfirmed reports.The incident is said to have occurred around 15:00h on Wednesday and efforts were reportedly being made by administrators to contact the escaped minors quietly since then. When contacted late Wednesday evening, G Division (Essequibo coast-Islands) Commander Khali Pareshram said he was not made aware of any incident at the facility. “I do not have any information. I am not aware of such an incident,” the Commander said. Several calls to the telephone number for the administrator at the NOC, Mark Dover, went unanswered. However, when contact was finally made, the individual who answered said that this newspaper had the wrong number even though the voicemail attached to the phone number identified the owner as “Mark Dover”.