By Alva Mulbah Wolokolie
A Liberian businesswoman, Mrs. Jamima Wolokolie, owner of the Pan African Travel Agency adjacent Cuttington Master Program has frowned on the chairperson of the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA), Madam Angeline Weeks for ignoring the local content that has been spoken about by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf which has to do with empowering Liberians. Mrs. Wolokolie indicated that it is irritating to note that Madam Weeks has been unilaterally making decisions within the LTA with a violation of the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) law of the country.
At a press conference held during the week-end at her offices on the Tubman Boulevard in Congo Town, Mrs. Wolokolie Accused Madam Weeks of being a dictator who has ignored the function of the PPC that was created by government to standardize the use of public funds in the country.
As a Liberian, Mrs. Wolokolie said it is her right to do business with government and as such Liberians should be given first preference in awarding contracts or agreements.
The Liberian businesswoman described the LTA’s action under the stewardship of Angeline Weeks to enter into an advanced negotiation with Chinese Company, Qingfian International (Lib) Group Development Co. Ltd. (CNQC) to rent its apartment building for US$385,000 per year to house the LTA is completely unacceptable.
According to her, the decision of the LTA boss is a deliberate attempt to keep the Liberian people in serious poverty and allow them to be jobless.
Madam Weeks has become the new ‘pepper bush baby’ of Liberia. She is untouchable and cannot be fired or suspended due to some special relations to President Sirleaf,” Mrs. Wolokolie asserted.
She recalled that earlier last year, Liberians and other nationals were short-listed for office space but unfortunately the Chinese building located on the Congo Town back road was taken in November last year by the LTA and provided one year rent to the company to enable them complete the building. “Why couldn’t this have been done for a Liberian as well?” Mrs. Wolokolie wondered.
Commenting on what prompted her (Wolokolie) to speak to this issue is that her 5 storey building adjacent the Cuttington Master Program has 9 offices on each floor, the building has 8 bathrooms, one conference room, parking lot in both front and back with electricity provided by the LEC.
She added that if the addition is done, this will sum-up to 40 bathrooms, 45 offices and 4 conference rooms which could be negotiated for.
With the Government of Liberia experiencing shortfalls in the collection of revenue for the 2013/2014 national budget, Mrs. Wolokolie said it is regrettable that the LTA under the stewardship of Angeline Weeks recently entered into such agreement with a Chinese company that would cost over US$1 million.
Businesswoman Wolokolie however used the occasion to call on the President to speedily intervene in this matter and investigate Madam Weeks.
The huge rental payment agreement comes after Finance Minister Amara Konneh recently accused the LTA of not meeting its commitments to support the national budget, which has contributed to budgetary shortfalls which he said could affect important infrastructure and social services programs but in spite of the alarm from the Finance Minister, the LTA is still negotiating for big money contracts.
As per the agreement with the Chinese landlord, the LTA has agreed to pay US$385,000.00 (Three Hundred Eighty Five Thousand United States Dollars) per year, with a three-year upfront payment to the Chinese landlord totaling to US$1,155,000.00 (one million, one hundred fifty five thousand United States dollars). The four-storey building contains thirty-one rooms and six bathrooms situated on two lots of land.