As Ruling Unity Party Unveils Controversial Yellow Machines, Echoes of Familiarity from CDC Era Brew EBOMAF REDUX?

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As Ruling Unity Party Unveils Controversial Yellow Machines, Echoes of Familiarity from CDC Era Brew EBOMAF REDUX?
As Ruling Unity Party Unveils Controversial Yellow Machines, Echoes of Familiarity from CDC Era Brew EBOMAF REDUX?

Africa-Press – Liberia. Brandishing flamboyant ambitions under the guise of national essence and benefit is nothing new to Liberia. In fact, Liberia’s recent history has shown that such deals, often shrouded in secrecy, as good as they may appear, frequently have more dangerous hidden motives and consequences for the nation. The EBOMAF and ETON deals of the George Weah era are the most recent examples.

Ex-president Weah in June 2018, signed into law the ETON Finance PLT Limited and EBOMAF Loan Agreements, and his government later cancelled the negotiations without stating any reasons behind such decision.

The ETON deal was a US$536 million financing agreement for the construction of 505.3km of roads, including the corridor from Grand Bassa County in Buchanan through Cestos City in Rivercess County to Greenville City in Sinoe County onward to Barclayville City in Grand Kru County – 316km road.

While the EBOMAF SA Loan, according to the agreement, was expected to cover the pavement of 323.7 km roads including the Somalia Drive via Kesselley Boulevard to Sinkor in Monrovia -16km, Tappita to Zwedru in Nimba and Grand Gedeh Counties and from Toe Town in Grand Gedeh County to Ivory Coast Border-10.2km road. It included the 185km road from Zwedru in Grand Gedeh County to Greenville in Sinoe County.

First consignment of machines arrives

The much-talked-about 285 pieces of yellow machinery began arriving over the weekend without any clear understanding or explanation of the circumstances surrounding how they were acquired or how they will be paid for.

The equipment, 24 pieces in total as the first batch, were paraded through the streets of Monrovia on Saturday in a show many believe was calculated to win public sympathy amid the unanswered questions surrounding their acquisition.

However, some lawmakers are already sensing the danger of allowing a loan deal, which the Executive is expected to submit to the Legislature, to proceed without proper scrutiny.

The Executive already faces criticism for ignoring the Legislature’s oversight responsibilities and the Public Procurement Concession Commission’s regulations regarding such concessions, yet it has begun importing the equipment.

Representative Musa Bility of Nimba’s district seven, said while the need for infrastructure improvements is evident, the terms of the deal do not align with lawmakers’ constitutional responsibilities.

Rep. Bility said: “This is moment to demonstrate their unwavering commitment to our country. I am calling on my colleagues of the 55th National Legislature to reject any future proposal that will be brought to the national legislature by the Executive for approval in order to uphold the integrity of our Constitution and act in the best interest of Liberia.”

Adding to Bility’s stance, the lawmaker of Monsterrado County’s District Nine, Frank Saah Foko, Jr. said while he welcomes any form of development that is good for the country, the fundamental development issue is rule of law, from which all other actions flow.

“Now that machines have entered the country and appears to be under the custody and control of the executive we must now ask the proper questions. Are these machines contracted by public funds or the full faith and credit of the republic of Liberia? Given that article 21(a) establishes a constitutional principle against retroactive passage of law, can the legislature entertain any presentation that allows for the retroactive approval of the procurement of these machines”?

Yellow Machines as Gifts?

FrontPageAfrica has been reliably informed by top-placed sources within the Unity Party-led government that the 285 machines are a signature fee that a South African businessman, Robert Gumede of Guma Group, has agreed to pay for the exploration of Wologizi Mountain.

The machines were reportedly procured from the SANY Group in China for an estimated and unconfirmed cost of between $30 to $50 million dollars, FrontPageAfrica gathered.

FrontPageAfrica has gathered that the agreement for the multi-million-dollar equipment is not structured properly as there is no legally binding agreement.

Sources close to this controversial arrangement say the yellow machines are being offered as a signing bonus, but some regime officials are cautious with negotiator Mamaka Bility and are instead calling for a concession agreement.

Accordingly, the Executive Mansion has begun engaging lawmakers on Capitol Hill for the agreement (if submitted) to sail through the House and Senate.

The Wologizi Mountain, located in Lofa and Gbarpolu Counties which remains untapped, was discovered by geologists in 1905 and is said to have a vast mineral deposit. Past administrations have attempted to source it out to foreign mining companies but were unsuccessful.

Shortly after taking office in 2018, the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) government, eager to implement its Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD), proposed a natural resource swap deal.

Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel Tweah, unveiling what he termed the “Beijing Envelope” following Liberia’s participation in the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation, announced that Liberia would benefit from a natural resource swap investment facility of US$2.5 billion over five years. That deal did not go through following public outcry.

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