Lawmakers go to work in tricycles

Lawmakers go to work in tricycles
Lawmakers go to work in tricycles

Africa-Press – Liberia. Last month, House Speaker Cllr. Koffa threatened a shutdown if the Ministry of Finance could not financially support the House of Representatives.

A few Liberian lawmakers have started traveling to and from work using tricycles like millions of impoverished citizens to pressure the Executive Branch to release US$45k for each of them to purchase new vehicles.

Through the Legislature, US$45,000 is allotted for each of the 103 lawmakers to purchase new vehicles every three years without returning to the government the previously used vehicles acquired through state resources.

While millions of dollars continue to be spent on providing new vehicles for just 103 lawmakers here, the public transport sector remains acutely challenged. Civil servants, private sector workers, and businesspeople struggle daily to find transport.

The transportation plights of ordinary Liberians have been made worse by the lack of sufficient private and public buses to convey commuters to their destinations, especially as police restrict the movement of non-compliant commercial motorbikes and tricycles.

But lawmakers from the House of Representatives on Tuesday, 2 July 2024, embarked on a tricycle riding “protest” to draw public attention to the fact that they have not been provided new vehicles and not because millions of their citizens are struggling for cars daily.

The idea behind the purported protest is that the Representatives are unhappy that members of the Liberian Senate are controversially acquiring their portion of the new vehicles at the cost of US$45k each. At the same time, the Representatives’ version is allegedly being delayed.

The protesting lawmakers were seen riding on tricycles or kekeh with their respective official license plates placed on the tricycles they rode on.

According to them, the Executive Branch has allegedly refused to release funding and benefits to enable them to do the Liberian people’s work.

Leaders of the purported protest were controversial Montserrado County Electoral District #10 Rep. Yekeh Kolubah and Rep. Jacob Debee of Grand Gedeh Electoral District #3.

Others were Rep. Sumo K. Mulbah of Montserrado Electoral District # 3, and Rep. Zinnah Norman of Gbarpolu County Electoral District #1.

During their protest, Rep. Kolubah told reporters that the Executive has refused to give them their benefits over the past months. Kolubah lamented that this was unfair and accused the executive of treating them like trash.

Mr. Kolubah said it is time they were treated with dignity and respect, warning that they would continue to go to work using kehkeh until the Executive could consider their situation and give them what belongs to them.

It can be recalled that in June this year, House Speaker Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa threatened to shut down the House of Representatives due to a lack of funding by the Ministry of Finance.

Speaker Koffa made the statement after the Commissioner General of the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) Dorbor Jallah told members of the House that the LRA had generated an extra revenue target of US$7.8 million.

Since the start of the Unity Party (UP) )-led government, Speaker Koffa has said the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) has been unable to meet the House of Representatives’ operational needs.

He said this is happening amid LRA’s disclosure that revenue collection was showing positive performance, contrary to the MFDP’s complaint of no money.

Koffa warned that if the MFDP cannot support the House of Representatives, that branch of government will be shut down.

Koffa added that members of the House of Representatives face serious financial constraints, whereas the Liberian Senate is well-funded and receives every necessary funding for its operations.

Koffa stated that members of the House of Representatives cannot continue borrowing money from NGOs and banking institutions within the country when there is funding within the national budget for legislative functioning.

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