Gozohn Town, Rivercess County - Several residents of Kinkayah Chiefdom, Rivercess County are expressing disappointment over the abandonment of several projects including two school building projects in the area. Speaking to FrontPage Africa recently, the residents blamed the Ministry of Education for awarding contracts to construction firms they termed as ‘bogus and criminal’ which has resulted to a complete desertion of projects that were intended to impact their lives.
One Junior High School project in Gozohn Town and another in Barns Town are all long overdue. Residents say Gozohn’s project has lasted for over six years and the contractor identified as Saviour Construction Company has given no reason ever since the work stopped. The firm owner, alleged to be a Ghanaian is said to have fled the country. Residents say when the project started in 2008 they were encouraged to work alongside the contractors for the benefit of the community but everything later proved frustrating.
“When the people started the work they said it was going to last for only 90 days, so all the citizens were happy and cooperative,” Ben Goah, a resident told FPA. “They (the communities) joined them and started doing the work, but later on the contractors left and never returned,” Ben added. Over the last years the residents claimed they have engaged local authorities, including the then superintendent, Willington Geevon Smith and the district representative, Hon. Alfred Juweh but the result has not been fruitful.
Earlier this year work resume following the intervention of the Rep. Juweh but the contractor again failed to complete the work, sparking outrage from the towns’ people who violently seized the contractor’s pick up. The towns demanded that they will only release the car once the project is completed.
“We are now appealing to the government so that they can do something for this school to finish,” Sam, another resident pleaded. Sam volunteered for the project when it started. He now asserts that only central government can influence the completion of the project. “Ministry of Education is responsible for this failed project and only they alone can push the contractor to complete it,” Sam suggested.
Archie Kpehyou is a resident of one of the towns in the chiefdom, for him, he’s attending school in Monrovia but says he couldn’t have if the Junior high school in the area was complete and open. “Our leaders in this county are really deceiving us. Some of us don’t have the hand, but we are struggling to go to school in Monrovia,” he said. “We expected them (government) to finish this school ever since to help some of us to attend but our leaders are really suppressing us.”
Blames were also shifted on Representative Juweh who the residents accused of abandoning a bridge project linking their area with other communities in the county. Others asserted that the abandonment of the bridge project also contributed to the delay in completing the school project. But the lawmaker argued that when he was elected in 2011 he assumed responsibility of the abandon projects and has been working to ensure the projects are completed but to no avail.
“Being a representative you cannot go the Ministry of Education and force them to complete the school project. The only thing now is to lobby around for the project to be completed because we met that project there,” Hon. Juweh told FPA in a cell phone interview.
Juweh blamed the MOE for awarding contracts to fake companies and lashed at Public Works for ignoring rural road projects in the country leaving them to deteriorate. He later disclosed that the Gbay-gbor-nee bridge project is a self initiative and will continue once he solicits more resources. Augustus T. Yarpah, the Speaker of the RiverCess County traditional council, has also blamed the MOE for the failed project.
“I’m saying this to the MOE specifically because in signing the agreement for the school project the county administration was not informed and so the MOE should not play with the integrity of the RiverCess People,” he warned. “MOE should have known the background of the company before hiring it,” he added.
Yarpah continued: “We are planning to set up a delegation to engage the MOE and Rep. Juweh to ensure that the schools and bridge projects are done.” Locals in the chiefdom say the presence of a junior high school will ensure the many school age children stay in school. RiverCess County has only one high school in the entire county.