Scrapping Liberia for Whose Benefit?

first_imgThis newspaper’s attention is drawn to a story carried in its Monday, February 25th edition under the headline, “Former Speaker Tyler Was Aware of US$2M Scrap Deal”.The story, written by Daily Observer court reporter Abednego Davis, quotes Bomi County Attorney Cllr. Juma P. Karnley as saying that former House Speaker Alex Tyler was aware of an unscrupulous scrap deal involving Bomi County Superintendent Adama B. Robinson and others, although the former Speaker has strenuously denied Cllr. Karnley’s accusations.According to the story, a truckload of ‘scrap’ equipment was arrested by the police at the gate of Sethi Brothers Steel Rod Plant near Jamaica Road. The ‘scrap’ equipment from Sackie Town in Bomi county was under the jurisdiction of the court when it was surreptitiously removed from there and taken to the Sethi Brothers Steel Rod Plant, near Jamaica Road.The case was initially heard before the 11th Judicial Circuit Court in Bomi County, but was later transferred to Monrovia where it is currently being heard before Criminal Court C at the Temple of Justice.The scrap, which includes an assortment of metal, including earth moving equipment, is said to be valued at US$2m dollars and is reportedly owned by an investor, a British national who goes by the name of Hans Armstrong. From all indications, Armstrong might be a middleman acting for the foreign business outfit which is said to hold a monopoly on the sale of scrap in Liberia.All around Monrovia, one can see mostly young men from the lowest dregs of society prowling neighborhoods and scavenging  dumpsites in search of scraps of metal, wood or even discarded clothes. Neighborhood residents are usually alerted to their presence by their filthy and unkempt clothing and even footwear — usually rundown discarded sneakers or worn out rubber slippers. These young men are generally called “Zogos”.Zogos are individuals living at the very margins of society where they eke out an existence by scavenging dumpsites and garbage heaps. Most are drug addicts and their activities appear all geared towards one thing. And that “one thing” is a fix on narcotics commonly called dugee, codeine syrups or the popular drug of choice, traumadol.These Zogos, found mainly in urban, peri-urban, or rural urban locales, constitute what are virtual foot soldiers in the service of unscrupulous businessmen involved in a form of looting of national assets called “Scrap Dealing”.It can be recalled that the country’s infrastructure was massively destroyed by the effects of the prolonged civil war. And like a dying elephant on the plains of the Serengeti, with flocks of vultures hovering overhead awaiting the last dying gasps of the elephant, so have scrap dealers descended on Liberia to feast on her remains.This newspaper learned, much to its shocking surprise, that a well-known foreign business outfit now has the sole monopoly on the sale of scrap in Liberia. And it does appear that in its style of operation, anything goes.That includes cast iron covers for manholes around the city. Nearly every manhole with a cast iron grill or cover has been looted by Zogos and sold to scrap dealers who have a series of local outfits around the city buying scrap metal.Besides manhole covers, electric cables, rail tracks from railroads currently not in use, and even metal poles are all being looted.On its website, the Ministry of Commerce lists scrap metal as one of Liberia’s major exports currently. In the month of January 2017, export of scrap metal, according to the Ministry of Commerce trade statistics, was valued at US$135,000.But who benefits and how does the country benefit from the export of scrap metal other than export duties? For example, how much did the country benefit from the sale of scrap metal from the Executive Mansion currently undergoing renovation?Most public schools around the country, especially those in rural areas, face a critical lack of learning materials in addition to qualified teachers, while all public hospitals around the country are faced with critical shortages of drugs and medicines in addition to other inputs.Given the dire economic straits in which the country finds itself, funds realized from the sale of scraps could very well be ploughed back into the economy in the form of social services so critically lacking in rural areas, for example.In view of all the foregoing, this newspaper finds itself constrained to draw the attention of officials and policy makers to what is a clear and present danger to our national infrastructure, especially considering the hard fact that infrastructure and other assets, including vehicles, are being deliberately and consciously scrapped by unscrupulous individuals eager for self-gain.As part of measures to protect vital infrastructure from the activities of vandals, government should consider placing a ban on the export of scrap metal for at least five years. This should be accompanied by the imposition of harsh penalties on individuals caught involved in the looting or sale of national infrastructure and other assets.Indeed, the protection of the nation’s infrastructure is a task that must be accomplished, if this country is to ever record progress in its development drive.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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Charrandas Persaud tells international media about threats to life

first_imgNo-confidence voteFormer Alliance For Change (AFC) Member of Parliament Charrandas Persaud, who has since been expelled from the party, has outlined the threats to his life after his “yes” vote in the National Assembly on December 21, 2018, toppled the David Granger-led Administration.In an interview with Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), Persaud said he made the move because he believed the Government has not been focusing on developing the country or creating jobs.“I was not very calm,” Persaud is quoted by CBC as saying, adding “I was frozen.”“Persaud, who was expelled from his party over his vote, said he was terrified forCharrandas Persaudhis own safety because of Guyana’s history of political assassinations. Because of that, he said the only person he talked to about his intention was the man he asked to provide some security for him in the gallery in case he was “jumped”,” the CBC reported. “I cried all night [the night before the vote],” he told the CBC, adding that he thought he would die.The CBC reported that Persaud added that the feeling only got stronger after the vote when he said another MP told him he would be dead that night. “It was not an idle threat I entertained,” he was quoted as saying.“Persaud said he was even prepared to use his water carafe as a weapon should he be attacked. He said he was lucky nothing happened, adding that modern technology probably saved him.”“Thank God for the advent of cellphones. Too many people were watching internationally and locally,” he told CBC.Persaud added that he did not take any chances, and after the sitting, he went directly to the Canadian High Commission in Georgetown and the next morning, he flew to Barbados and then on to Toronto.According to the CBC, Persaud moved to Canada from Guyana in the late 1970s and studied at the University of Toronto, eventually getting his real estate licence. He returned to Guyana in 1999 to practise law and eventually got into politics.Guyana Times had reported in December 2018, that as Persaud broke ranks and delivered the proverbial nail in the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coffin, his life was threatened twice; he was hit by both colleagues flanking him as well as received many explicit comments within a five-minute period. This was all done while the National Assembly broadcast the sitting live on its website. The video is still up on the Parliament website showing clearly what transpired. Persaud received the hostile treatment from his colleagues after he voted his conscience and sided with the Opposition People’s Progressive Party’s motion of no-confidence against the Government, of which he was a part.During the final segment of the 03h:51m:04s video, during the second part of the debate, when Persaud delivered his first “yes”, all hell broke loose. He received the first punch on his left arm, at 03h:33m:04s in the video, from an APNU MP who insisted that Persaud “can’t vote against the Government” .This was followed by a series of expletives from the same MP and surprisingly, Persaud received another punch from another APNU MP.Then came the issuing of death threats to Persaud. If one listens to the video, one would find that at 03h:33m:04s and 03h:35m:35s, he receives the threats: “Charrandas you gon dead tonight” and “Charrandas you want dead tonight” respectively. It sounded as though the threats came from a female MP on the Government side of the benches.last_img read more

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Culture Department to host flag raising concert on Friday

first_img53rd Independence anniversaryThe Culture Department’s second annual flag raising concert will be hosted on Friday at the Stabroek Market Square in observance of Guyana’s 53rd Independence anniversary celebrations.Among the exciting local artistes expected to perform at the concert are Jomo Primo; reigning Chutney King, Steven Ramphal; Melissa “Vanilla” Roberts; Michelle “Big Red” King; Young Bill Rogers and Gavin Mendonca among others.At a press conference hosted on Wednesday at the Culture Department’s office on Main Street, Georgetown, a few of the artistes promised an exhilarating time.Primo told Guyana Times that the event is perfect for persons who are visiting to get a glimpse of Guyana’s rich culture as the event will be showcasing only local talent. It will feature soca, chutney, calypso and even gospel music.Coordinator of the Independence celebrations, Andrew Tyndall, was keen to note that security will be provided as he noted too that last year’s concert had thousands of attendees and no incidents were recorded.Following Friday’s concert will be a flag raising and youth rally on Sunday at D’Urban Park, beginning at 10:00h.The one-hour programme will see the participation of 5000 students from various regions in the rally, as well as the choir. This year is the first year that so many youths are participating, Tyndall told the media.He explained that the Department is seeking to develop patriotism among the young people at an early age.last_img read more

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Pervasive corruption responsible for failed Budget implementation

first_img… “they cancel tenders every time they don’t get a particular outcome” – JagdeoFormer President Bharrat Jagdeo believes that Government would not be able to implement 60 per cent of the 2017 Budget as it relates to its Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP) – a far cry from the 90 per cent implementation rate achieved by the former Administration under the People’s Progressive Party/Civic.Jagdeo this past week weighed in on the current budget preparations by the Finance Ministry ahead of its early presentation for a third year.He, however, criticised the abysmal implementation rate and blamed what he called the pervasive corruption being practised by the Administration as one of the key reasons behind the failure to expend annual allocations.Jagdeo was at the time speaking with members of the local media corps at his Church Street office.The Russian trained economist, who served as Finance Minister and later President from 1999 to 2011, opined that the purpose of an annual Budget is to enhance the welfare of the citizenry of the country and to expand opportunity and support the creation of wealth at every level.Based on these criteria, Jagdeo said: “This (2017) budget has failed miserably….it has done none of these things.”According to the former President, now Opposition Leader, the lack of implementation of the 2017 Budget despite its early presentation in 2016 was just a symptom of the confusion that exist in Government.“This charlatan understanding of how these projects work seems to permeate the entire Government at the political level and secondly, their frequent interference in tendering process,” Jagdeo posited.Speaking to the pervasive corruption under the David Granger Administration, Jagdeo pointed to the award of contracts.According to the Opposition Leader, when an evaluation of a tender is returned, the Administration simply retenders the project if the desired outcome is not achieved.Finance Minister Winston JordanThe former President pointed to the fact that using international loans through various funding agencies, the process can take as much as six to eight months.Jagdeo noted that as a result of the frequent retendering of projects being funded from the treasury, the Administration has inherently and consistently delayed the utilisation of the allocated funds which at the end of the year results in woefully inadequate implementation of the Public Sector Investment Programme.“They have cancelled every time they don’t get a particular outcome; they have cancelled to tenders,” Jagdeo said.He cited a multibillion-dollar contract which has been repeatedly retendered for the Guyana Power and Light Inc.Jagdeo, in seeking to further illustrate his point of favoured bidders being the preference of the Administration, pointed to the fact that of the $4.8 million spent on drugs this past year, the majority $4.4 billion went to handpicked suppliers as against using the prequalification process, which was used by the PPP/Civic Administration.According to Jagdeo, the process of cherry picking “who you want the contracts go to,” will, and has been, adversely affecting the implementation of the PSIP.He suggested that Government may not even achieve a 60 per cent implementation rate for the funds allocated for 2017 as against the 90 per cent implementation rate that was achieved by the PPP/C in office. “This is problematic,” Jagdeo declared.The abysmal failure on the part of the Administration to fully execute its programmes was recently laid bare when Finance Minister Winston Jordan presented the mid-year report on national spending and revenues earned.According to Minister Jordan in that report, “notwithstanding the historically early budget, the required shift in planning cycles at the sectoral levels failed to keep pace and, though the Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP) recorded higher levels of expenditure at the mid-year than at the similar period in 2016, spending was less than one-third of the budgeted allocation.”He had announced interventions to support sectoral and project specific bottlenecks were underway, even “as we grapple with the recent spate of security breaches that has resulted in additional fiscal and other pressures”.Jordan had promised that a combination of targeted interventions to address the sluggish pace of spending in the PSIP, coupled with prioritised sector-specific engagements with the Private Sector, is expected to result in more systemic and structural reforms that would promote diversification and green initiatives so critical to delivering the good life to all Guyanese.last_img read more

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Local Aboriginal man wins Coke contest

first_imgProceeds from the sale will go to the Vancouver 2010 Aboriginal Youth Legacy Fund to support sport, culture, sustainability and education initiatives for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis youth across Canada. Anyone interested in bidding on the artwork can go online to www.icoke.ca Photo: Garry Oker shows off his winning entry on Thursday – Submitted.A local aboriginal man has won a unique art competition. Garry Oker was one of four artists who won the Coca-Cola Aboriginal Art Bottle contest. The announcement was made on Thursday afternoon.- Advertisement -Oker decorated a giant Coke bottle with traditional aboriginal artwork. The competition provides Aboriginal people across Canada the opportunity to experience the Olympic Spirit, while showcasing their art and culture to the world. More than 100 Aboriginal artists across Canada submitted an entry. The artists, both amateurs and professionals, are First Nations, Inuit or Métis. Oker is a member of Doig River First Nations. He credits his artistic passion to his grandmother, who created beautiful pieces of art using traditional moose hides. The art work will be displayed throughout the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Each bottle will be auctioned off to collectors from February 15-25th.Advertisementlast_img read more

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Suspect runs over, seriously injures LAPD undercover officer

first_imgAn undercover police officer who tried to arrest a man and was run over during a narcotics investigation was in serious condition today and the suspect was in custody after turning himself in, police said. Officer Tony Salazar, 37, suffered two broken legs, facial and head injuries and was recovering at a hospital, police said. Several officers investigating a drug sale tried to arrest a man identified as Joe G. Ortiz Jr., 23, of Boyle Heights, when the suspect got in a white Mazda, police said. The officer tried to stop Ortiz, 23, who “swerved his car and we believe in a deliberate act, struck our officer,” Diaz said. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREStriving toward a more perfect me: Doug McIntyre The officer fired his weapon at the Mazda as the car sped off, he said. A female passenger was seen in the vehicle, and Diaz urged her to contact police. Ortiz could face possible charges of attempted murder on a police officer. For more news and observations about crime in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley, check out the Daily News’ crime blog by clicking here. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

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Mauricio Pochettino proud to be part of Tottenham’s White Hart Lane farewell

first_imgMauricio Pochettino felt privileged to witness the final game at White Hart Lane as Tottenham gave their home the perfect send-off with a 2-1 win over Manchester United.Goals from Victor Wanyama and Harry Kane ensured a happy farewell to the club’s 118-year-old ground, before they move to Wembley next season while their new stadium is completed.Supporters swarmed the field as the final whistle blew but eventually returned to their seats to watch 48 former Spurs players each come out to rapturous applause.The farewell ceremony began with a history of White Hart Lane narrated by Tottenham fan Sir Kenneth Branagh and finished with Pochettino and his players performing a lap of honour.By the end there was even a rainbow arching over the top of the East Stand. 2 White Hart Lane: 21 great images from Tottenham Hotspur’s final game at the stadium as Harry Kane scoresIn between, the likes of Ledley King, David Ginola, Glenn Hoddle, Graham Roberts and Cliff Jones were presented to the crowd, who also sang Paul Gascoigne’s name. Gascoigne chose not to attend for health reasons.Wayne Rooney will go down as the ground’s last ever scorer after his late consolation for United but nothing could dampen the spirits of the Spurs’ fans and their manager.“I am a very lucky guy because to share the history of such a club in that special moment is so lucky. I am so happy,” Pochettino said.“In the game we played well and got the three points and the ceremony with the legends, the people, the staff and my family. For me it will always be the most special day, the last day of White Hart Lane.”United were the opposition for the 2,533rd match at White Hart Lane, long after Tottenham first hosted Notts County there in 1899 and won the game 4-1.Spurs only confirmed their switch to Wembley at the end of last month and the club have been keen to emphasise they are only taking on a new stadium in 2018-19, rather than moving to a different location.“We have outgrown our current home and we are building a wonderful new home right here. We are not moving,” chairman Daniel Levy wrote in a message to supporters.“The new pitch will overlap the old one. Our new home will slowly embrace and engulf the old one. We are determined that it will be a worthy successor to White Hart Lane and a fitting stage for our current and future great teams.”Tottenham’s win ensures they have gone unbeaten at home for the first time in a league season since 1964-65 – and secured second place in the Premier League.center_img 2last_img read more

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Saudi Arabia team plane catches fire

first_img📄| The Saudi Arabian Football Federation would like to reassure everyone that all the Saudi national team players are safe, after a technical failure in one of the airplane engines that has just landed in Rostov-on-Don airport, and now they’re heading to their residence safely.— Saudi National Team (@SaudiNT_EN) June 18, 2018Videos uploaded to social media show flames shooting from underneath the wings which can clearly be seen from the on-board windows. No one was hurt in the incident. The players were then filmed exiting the plane unfazed and they are now on their way to the team hotel in the south of the country. 📹 PASSENGER FOOTAGE: Watch #KSA plane engine catching fire as they land in Rostov-on-Don for their #WorldCup matchday 2 game against #URU . pic.twitter.com/Yq3QQ1MtZ1— Ahdaaf (@ahdaafme) June 18, 2018Flames could be seen from the engine of the Russian Airlines Airbus as they were in-flight from Moscow.An official statement from their football association read: “The Saudi Football Federation wishes to reassure everyone about the safety of all members of the mission of the national team after a minor technical malfunction in an engine.“The plane landed a few minutes ago at Rostov on Don Airport, and UNOMIG personnel are now safely heading to their residence.” Saudi Arabia’s official team plane caught fire in mid-air as they travelled to their World Cup match.The Green Falcons were en route to Rostov for their second Group A match against Uruguay on Wednesday when the deeply concerning blaze occurred.last_img read more

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Brahmas outlast Mustangs, 24-21

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 The Mustangs took the opening kickoff and moved the ball to the Brahmas 5-yard line. Brahmas middle linebacker Daniel Carrillo blitzed and knocked the ball loose, and Albert Ramos came up with the loose ball to stop the drive by the Mustangs. “They blitzed a guy through there,’ Mustangs coach Jerry Person said. “We’d been punching it up all the way down there. We turned it over twice in the red zone. That was it.’ Brahmas quarterback Jeff Jansen hit his favorite wide receiver, Jonathon Amaya, on a sideline pass just past the outstretched fingers of a gambling Mustangs cornerback. Amaya went 69 yards untouched for the first score. Jansen and Amaya hooked up again early in the second quarter for a 40-yard score and a 14-0 lead as the Brahmas looked as if they had the game in control. The Mustangs refused to quit and got back in the game just before halftime. Richie Reynoso punched the ball into the end zone with 33 seconds left in the half. That score gave the Mustangs all the momentum they needed in front of a packed stadium. “I was real happy,’ Cuccia said. “The kids didn’t give up on both sides of the ball. This is the epitome of high school football.’ The Brahmas seemed rattled to start the second half and the Walnut defense showed it was back after a week off. “They made adjustments from last week,’ Cuccia said. “They were running a 3-5 (defense) and brought the (line) backers.’ On the first play from scrimmage, Junior Ernest Quiocho outran the Diamond Bar defense for a 78-yard touchdown run. The ensuing 2-point conversion tied the game. Diamond Bar’s Marcus Marbrey then picked off a tipped pass and ran it back 40 yards to put the Brahmas back on top, 21-14. The Mustangs’ third turnover of the night was a fumble into the end zone to stop a 78-yard drive, but they were able to shake it off and come back to tie the score. Quiocho did so with a 3-yard run at the 5:42 mark. The Mustangs rushed for 373 yards with Quiocho getting 176 on 16 carries and Gallardo 110 on 10. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! The Mustangs fell behind 14-0 before making a comeback to tie the game at 21 midway through the fourth quarter. “They were real tough,’ Brahmas coach Nick Cuccia said. “They came back from a tough game last week and played their hearts out. That’s what a game like this with all this emotion can do.’ center_img WALNUT — In a game filled with emotion, the Diamond Bar High School football team took back the Branding Iron trophy with a 24-21 nonleague victory over crosstown rival Walnut High on Friday night. The Brahmas took advantage of three Mustangs turnovers, and Daniel Torres kicked a 36-yard field goal for the winning margin with 3:37 left to pull out the win. last_img read more

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Felon, or merely illegal?

first_imgWASHINGTON – Business groups and immigration advocates on Wednesday denounced an immigration bill awaiting a vote in the House even as Republicans battled among themselves over the language. The bill would make it a felony to be in the U.S. illegally. While entering the U.S. illegally currently is a felony, living in the country without proper paperwork is a civil offense. The measure also would put deportation proceedings on a fast track, make belonging to a gang a deportable offense for legal immigrants, and allow local law enforcement to use federal homeland security grants to track down and arrest illegal immigrants. In addition, it would mandate the creation of a $360 million system through which the nation’s 8.4 million employers would be expected to check the immigration status of every worker. Johnson said that the existing employer verification system is only voluntary and is used by 3,600 employers to check about 750,000 employees. If it becomes mandatory, it would have to field inquiries on more than 140 million workers. “We just have concerns as to whether or not it’s workable,” Johnson said. The Rules Committee, headed by Rep. David Dreier, R-Glendora, was still debating potential amendments late Wednesday, including one by Ohio Rep. Steven Chabot that would allow businesses to check only new employees. The amendment drew support from Republicans and Democrats on the Rules Committee, even as other GOP members questioned other fundamental elements of the bill. Rep. Adam Putnam, R-Florida, said he opposes making the act of being in the U.S. illegally a felony, recalling a 17-year-old constituent who found out only when she was applying for scholarships that her parents brought her illegally to the U.S. as an infant. “No one believes we’re going to arrest a 17-year-old girl who was brough here illegally as a 3-month-old, and God forbid we should,” Putnam said. Others, including Southern California Republicans, sought to expand the bill and make it even tougher on illegal immigrants and those who would try to use America to gain citizenship for their children. Rep. Gary Miller, R-Brea, sought an amendment barring pregnant women from entering the U.S. for the purpose of giving birth in America, and requiring all mortgage credit applicants to be citizens or legal residents. Lisa Friedman, (202) 662-8731 lisa.friedman@langnews.com 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake But Randel Johnson, vice president of labor at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, called the measure “unacceptable to the business community.” The nation’s Catholic bishops assailed it as a threat to U.S. citizens and legal residents, as well as illegal immigrants. Hispanic lawmakers including Reps. Hilda Solis, D-El Monte, Grace Napolitano, D-Santa Fe Springs, and Joe Baca, D-San Bernardino, condemned it as an “ineffective and irresponsible” measure that would only push illegal immigrants deeper into America’s shadows. And a leading Republican strategist with close ties to the White House said even if the House passes the measure as expected, the bill will go nowhere until it also grants legal status to at least some of the country’s estimated 11 million illegal immigrants. “The Senate is not going to pass something that is enforcement-only, and the president is not going to sign it,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. last_img read more

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