Over 280 Earth Moving Equipment Arrive


Liberia has received a significant boost to its infrastructure development with the arrival of over 280 yellow machines intended for road works across the country. The machines, including bulldozers, excavators, graders, and dump trucks, are being delivered as part of a strategic initiative to enhance Liberia’s road network and overall infrastructure. This delivery comes amidst ongoing efforts by the Liberian government to address infrastructure deficits and stimulate economic growth through improved transportation networks. Road maintenance and construction play a crucial role in enhancing accessibility, facilitating trade, and fostering socio-economic development in the country. As the yellow machines begin operations on Liberia’s roads, anticipation is high among citizens and stakeholders alike regarding the benefits they will bring to communities and the broader economy. Earlier this month information emerged that  top-placed sources within the Unity Party-led government that the expected arrival of the 285 pieces of earth-moving equipment is a signature fee that a South African businessman, Robert Gumede of Guma Group, has agreed to pay for the exploration of Wologizi Mountain. The machines are to be procured from the SANY Group in China for an estimated and unconfirmed cost of between $30 to $50 million dollars. According to the report, the agreement for the multi-million-dollar equipment is not structured properly. There is no legally binding agreement. Sources close to this controversial arrangement say the yellow machines are being offered as a signing bonus, but some regime officials are cautious with chief negotiators Mamaka Bility and co over their non-stop push and are instead calling for a concession agreement. Accordingly, the Executive Mansion has begun engaging lawmakers on Capitol Hill for the agreement (if submitted) to sail through the House and Senate. The Wologizi Mountain, located in Lofa and Gbarpolu Counties which remains untapped, was discovered by geologists in 1905 and is said to have a vast mineral deposit. Past administrations have attempted to source it out to foreign mining companies but were unsuccessful. Shortly after taking office in 2018, the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) government, eager to implement its Pro-Poor Agenda for Transparency and Accountability (PAPD), proposed a natural resource swap deal. Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel Tweah, unveiling what he termed the “Beijing Envelope” following Liberia’s participation in the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation, announced that Liberia would benefit from a natural resource swap investment facility of US$2.5 billion over five years. Tweah described the amount as the most significant package resulting from the forum, committed by China after bilateral discussions between Chinese President Xi Jinping and President George Weah. “This is not a loan; it is an investment facility and framework entered into between the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) and the Government of Liberia, designed to unveil US$2.5 billion in financing for the country’s development over the next five years,” he said at the time. Following Tweah’s announcement, the government faced heavy criticism for entering a deal without providing sufficient details to the public. In response to the backlash and to clarify the situation, the government later announced that no such deal was in the making. The Boakai administration appears to be threading on a similar path. The Government, through its Minister of State Without Portfolio, Mrs. Mamaka Bility, announced  during President Joseph Boakai’s first cabinet retreat, that each of the 15 counties would get 19 pieces of the equipment, including Lofa, where Wologizi is situated. She said the machines were turned over to the government and she, along with Ministers Grisby and Giddings participated virtually. She mentioned that the machines were on the sea en route to Liberia. However, in response to the backlash, the government somersaulted on its statement. Information Minister Piah, in the ministry’s press briefing said no deal has been reached, and Minister Bility only presented a video announcing the government’s plan to negotiate for the equipment. Amidst all this, the controversial deal was negotiated by Madam Bility, Public Works Minister, Roland Lafayette Giddings, and the Minister of State, Sylvester M. Grigsby. Closed sources further say that both Grigsby and Madam Bility had travelled to South Africa to seal the deal. Though the agreement was not reached through the rightful channels, including the Public Procurement and Concessions Act (PPCA) of Liberia which mandates that all major government procurement activities undergo a transparent and competitive bidding process and Legislative oversight and approval for substantial government expenditures, the administration is said to be eager to get the machines to implement the government’s ARREST agenda, which includes Agriculture, Road, Rule of Law, Education, Sanitation & Tourism. Source: IPNEWS

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