By Alva M. Wolokolie
The Minister designate of the Ministry of Public Works, Dr. Antoinette Weeks, has assured employees of the Ministry that if confirmed, her administration will not witch hunt anyone, instead, she will work with experienced and qualified people.
Dr. Weeks, who is the former Director of Exploration Activities at the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL), holds a PHD, in Civil & Environmental Engineering from Lehigh University, (Pennsylvania, and USA) also holds a MSc in Civil & Environmental Engineering from Howard University (Washington, DC, USA)as well as a BSc in Civil Engineering, University of Houston, (Houston, TX, USA).
Dr. Weeks’ professional expertise included a diverse array of consulting, design, engineering, infrastructure and sustainable development projects; both local and international, which have also been funded by the United Nations (UN), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the World Bank, Engineer/Environmental & Infrastructure Specialist/Consultant.
In her most recent position, Dr. Weeks provided regulatory and supervisory oversight of Liberia’s Hydrocarbon Sector; Managerial Oversight of NOCAL’s Technical Staff; Geological and Geophysical (G&G) Analysis & Management of Liberia’s Hydrocarbon Data for Exploration & Exploitation Activities.
Former Minister Woods stepped down from his post in May 2013, immediately after the death of his mentor, the late Archbishop Michael Kpakala Francis to refocus his attention to civil society and human rights issues. Woods is currently the Legal Consultant for the Liberia Law Society and is expected to revamp the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (JPC) that he previously worked for during the regime of former President Charles Taylor.
At yesterday confirmation hearing, Dr. Weeks told the committee on Public Works that she would decentralize the ministry to dispel the notion that Monrovia is not Liberia. She explained that if confirmed by the Senate, she would engage both historical and young engineers to do a comprehensive plan in order to bring development to Liberia.
The Public Works Minister designate told the committee members that she will not give contractors any ‘water-down’ contract, because her objective will include the construction of standard roads, bridges and infrastructures around the country.
Dr. Weeks assured the Senators that she would grade contractors and companies hired by the Ministry, but if either of them forfeits the deal or agreement, she would not hesitate to blacklist them. Commenting on the duration of roads, Dr. Weeks said her administration will not build roads that would last for one season because her experience as an engineer will bring development to the people of Liberia.
The Senate Standing Committee Chair on Public Works Sen. Oscar Cooper of Margibi County warned the Minister designate that if confirmed, her administration should not sign contracts without the approval of the Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC). Senator Cooper along with several Senators who attended the hearing process advised Dr. Weeks that the Committee expects something better this time from the Public Works Ministry because in their minds, there are lots of activities on-going at the ministry that they are unhappy about. Sen. Cooper however told the nominee the committee will take all deliberations to Plenary which is the highest decision making body for appropriate action.