The National Road Fund (NRF) under the bad stewardship of Mr. Boniface Satu is once again in the spotlight for shadowy dealings. Unimpeachable sources have hinted that the National Road Fund has dished out US$10M of the National Road Fund to East International for works on the much talked about RIA road, now a ‘death trap’.
The National Road Fund is yet to wean itself from the bad public relations emanating from the recent General Auditing Commission(GAC) report that stunningly revealed how over US$24M of the Road Fund cannot be accounted for coupled with over US$7M unlawfully diverted from the Road Fund by loud mouth Finance Minister Samuel D. Tweah. Preponderance of evidence has established that the National Road Fund, exclusively the Liberian people’s money has been subjected to blatant pillaging, plundering, and mismanagement by roguish elements to whom it is entrusted to manage. Some call the NRF a cash cow for the regime’s big guns.
While the NRF is still reeling from the bad press and public resentment it has brought upon itself, it is once again in the news for the wrong reason.
Firstly, dishing out US$10M to East International utterly violates the “Pre-Finance” agreement that East International has with the government of Liberia that it will “Prefinance” the contract to some level before the government gets involved. It lingers more questions than answers that such a humongous amount of public funds (US$10M) will be doled out to East International in secrecy.
Secondly, it violates the Road Fund law regarding the specification and category of roads that the Fund can be used for(Sections 2.2, 2.3,2.4,2.5). The Road Fund cannot be used for such a huge project that has bilateral and/or multilateral funding as the RIA road project.
Thirdly, $25M was reportedly loaned from a foreign bank by East International for this same RIA Road project under the Prefinance agreement. The Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) and the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI) stood as guarantors for the loan. Investment analysts have condemned the government for permitting the CBL and LBDI to be used as guarantors to such a risky deal on grounds that East International has no proven pedigree when it comes to Road Construction anywhere around the world. And should they default on the servicing of this loan, the burden to pay back the loan will rest on the weary shoulders of poor Liberia. Given the bad work on the RIA road and the current appalling state of works on the RIA road, one cannot help but tend to agree with those that condemned the deal with East International. The RIA road is a “death trap” with both shoulders of the Road consumed by deep pits filled with rivers of water as the rains are falling torrentially. The level of ineptitude and professionalism being showcased on the RIA road is indescribable and has left Liberian engineers wondering in shock.
East International has no record of classic express road works around the world. It started business in Liberia as a Sand Mining Company and later jump to road construction but at a lower scale—mostly feeder roads. The RIA road is a very significant route that sets the path into the country when one arrives in Liberia via the Robert International Airport(RIA). It also has national security implications as the gateway to the country. Hence, it marvels many that an ignorant and obscure company like East International would be chosen to construct such a major road. No doubt, East International must have a solid connection with the top brass of the political establishment if it is owned by powerful officials of this administration.
The vexing questions wavering the minds of many Liberians are; what has East International done with the $25M it loaned from the foreign bank, as no major work has been done on the RIA Road so far except for the death trap it has created there? Is the Legislature aware of this $10M? Who approved the payment and under what terms and conditions? Who owns East International? Who are the officials of the George Weah government linked to East International? Who are the folks fronting for them?
More detail coming up…
Here’s the Road Fund boss Boniface Satu (in white t-shirt) in pictures with East International senior staff inspecting the RIA Road.
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