Grave danger to Atlantic Gardens residents

first_imgDear Editor,Every day, road users on the East Coast highway are exposed to grave danger at the turnoff to Atlantic Gardens, at exactly the same spot where there was a major traffic crisis on Mother’s Day 2018, which I wrote about in a letter to the media in May.Eventually, the Ministry of Public Infrastructure offered an apology, which was published in the various newspapers.Residents of Atlantic Gardens risk injury, or even death daily, plus the possibility of serious damage to their vehicles, because they are forced to cross a perilous bridge that was broken up as part of roadworks in that area being done by Chinese contractors and Guyanese engineers.Finding a safe way to cross this partially dismantled bridge is not for the faint of heart. Sand has been dumped there, but the seasonal heavy rainfall has added mud and debris, transforming it into treacherous, slippery slush that has several flooded potholes in it. Some parts of this loam bridge are also breaking away as the water tries to find its way into the gutter.As such, the risk increases at night in this poorly-lit area.The blame for this lies squarely at the feet of the contractors and engineers in charge of the roadworks. They just go merrily about their business as if they have absolutely no interest in maximizing commuters’ safety and minimizing their inconvenience.Apart from people possibly getting killed or injured, there is also the possibility of Government, or more accurately the taxpayers of this country, paying out millions of dollars to settle huge lawsuits arising from injuries and damages due to the slackness of the project managers.Why aren’t the engineers overlooking this project ensuring that the work is properly done? Don’t the contractors know better?Who is ensuring that these contractors and engineers are doing their jobs properly with the interest of the Guyanese people at heart? Will it take death, severe injuries, or huge lawsuits to teach them to ensure the managers of the roadworks are doing the work properly?I also urge the ministry’s public relations officer who issued the apology for the Mother’s Day crisis to come to the spot and witness first-hand the gravity of the situation. Then, hopefully, the ministry and project overseers would change their flowery words into effective action.Sincerely,Roshan Khan Snrlast_img read more

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Viraat Sabhaa holds graduation ceremony for spirituality training

first_imgIn an effort to sustain and enhance spirituality and the Hindu culture, the Viraat Sabhaa (Guyana) has initiated programmes to educate Hindus and non-Hindus.“The Viraat Sabhaa has placed spirituality at the pinnacle of its agenda.” This is according to Pandit Ravi Persaud, the President of the organisation, who is convinced that for there to be self-transformation, the process must include higher spiritual education wherein foundational principles are based on truth.As such, the Sabhaa is encouraging Guyanese from different backgrounds to pursue educational and capacity building initiatives.It is against this backdrop that the Sabhaa awarded certificates to persons who took part in its four training courses.The Sabhaa distributed certificates of participation to the persons on Sunday at the Hall of the Valmiki Vidyalaya High School inThe Viraat Sabhaa team poses for a picture with Swamiji in the centreQueenstown.Pandit Persaud outlined that there were four courses held over the past six months. Those started last November and concluded this month (May). Courses were conducted by Swami Kaivalyaananda Saraswati of the Kaivalya Ashram, India. Swamiji is a senior disciple of world renowned Swami Chinmayananda and Swami Dayananda Saraswati. He is also the spiritual head of the Viraat Sabhaa.One course was for in-service Pandits. In this Module-One programme, over 20 Pandits participated. The course was conducted at the Guyana Pandits’ Council headquarters.An introductory course on the theoretical study of the Puja System for aspiring Pandits was also offered, attracting 26 participants.The Viraat Sabhaa also indicated that for the “Introduction of Vedanta course”, the organisation saw 40 students pursuing the six-month training programme in various aspects of Hinduism, inclusive of Sanskrit, Bhagavad Gita and philosophy.Also notable was the establishment of the youth training programme. Swamiji conducted a two-month training course, “Introduction to Hinduism”. That programme was attended by 21 young persons, many of whom are full-time professionals in the Public and Private Sectors.Executive member of the Viraat Sabhaa, Bhaiji Siri Persaud called on the graduates to use the knowledge imparted by Swamiji for the upliftment of themselves and their respective communities. He also applauded the participants who overlooked organisational affiliations to benefit from the courses offered by the Sabhaa.last_img read more

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New Amsterdam rocked by a spate of robberies

first_imgPolice in Berbice are investigating a seven-man armed gang operating out of Mount Sinai, one of the suburbs of New Amsterdam, referred to as Angoy’s Avenue. One of the gang members was arrested on Friday 17 June.On the morning of Sunday 18 June, the gang reportedly responded by attacking four homes, successfully entering two and terrorizing the families, as they took away cash and other valuables.Divisional Commander, Assistant Commissioner Ian Amsterdam is of the view that Sunday’s attack was in retaliation of the arrest of a gang member on Friday.Veronica Balak, 69, of Lot 5 Mount Sinai, was reportedly beaten and robbed by the said gang. According to Balak who lives alone, at about 03:00h on Sunday she heard banging on her door and then four men appeared in her bedroom: “When them come in me tell them me na go holla, an they ask fo money and gold but I tell them that I is a pensioner.”The elderly woman noted that of the four men, one was armed with a gun, one with a cutlass and one with a crowbar. The defenceless woman related: “When me tell them that me na get gold, them start beat me up, dem knock me all up in me head….”She said that they ransacked her home and took all of the money she had which was less than $20,000.Veronica Balak was beaten and robbed of all her moneyWithin the hour, four other places were attacked: Budhan’s Housing Scheme, Mount Sinai, including a grocery store, and three houses.Oliver Ross says his wife was assaulted and a shot fired at him as bandits entered his home. He said it was after 04:30 on Father’s Day when three men entered his Lot 39 home while two remained under his house: “Two of them had guns and one was armed with a cutlass. By the time I heard strange sounds they were already in the house. They put the guns to our head and said bring all the money and the gold and everything that you got.”Ross said he appealed to the thieves saying that he and his pregnant wife were only middle class and not wealthy but it made no difference as there were threats made to rape his wife: “He grab my wife and pulled her by her hair and I tried to stop him and then he fired a shot at me.”He said the men ransacked the home during the five minutes they spent and took what they could. It was reported to Police that the bandits relieved Ross of ,000, a cellular phone, a television set, a tablet and a laptop computer.At Lot 31 Budhan’s Housing Scheme, Ingrid Soohan, 67, reported that bandits broke the padlock off of her gate and were attempting to get into the downstairs apartment. At the time, she was up already doing her morning chores and thought it was her downstairs tenant returning home. The elderly woman said she called out to her tenant, greeting him and that might have scared the bandits off.Also at Lot 9 Budhan’s Housing Scheme, householders were alerted after two men with guns had wrenched open a kitchen window. They called out to a neighbour who reported that they were two others under the house.After the alarm was raised the men jumped over a fence at the front yard and ran further into the scheme.According to Amsterdam, during last week Police officers were on patrol and in the vicinity of the Berbice River Bridge they intercepted a car and took the driver into custody after not being convinced that he was waiting for a passenger to return with his 0 taxi fare.However, the following day surveillance footage revealed that a car fitting the description of the one that was parked at D’Edward Village was the car whichBudhan’s Housing Schemedropped the men off before the robbery at D’Edward Village earlier that night.Based on information provided by the driver of the alleged getaway car, Police arrested a suspected gang member on Friday.The gang is also linked to a robbery of a New Amsterdam Market vendor at his New Street, East Canje home three weeks ago when $1 million in cellular phone cards were stolen.Meanwhile, two persons are in custody in connection with the Father’s Day robberies. Andrew Carmichaellast_img read more

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Driver avoids collision, ends up in trench

first_imgAn almost certain Caricom Day fatality was avoided when a motorist swerved from colliding with a young man on a bicycle, but ended up in the canal at Goed Fortuin, West Bank Demerara (WBD) on Monday.It was reported by eyewitnesses that at approximately 12:00h, a silver Toyota Spacio car was heading west along the main road when a cyclist came within close proximity of the vehicle. The driver, following his instincts, swerved from the cyclist, but lost control of the vehicle, which headed up the muddy bank only to end up in the trench running parallel to the road.“The entire area was very slippery due to heavy rainfall recently,” one passerby explained.The driver of the car escaped with minor injuries to his face and arms, but the damage to the car was extensive with the front half submerged.Public-spirited citizens rushed to the scene to assist the driver. They eventually stopped a Canter truck that was passing, to pull the vehicle out of the trench.It was reported that the cyclist did not stop to render any assistance, but instead rode away as if nothing had happened.Only three days ago, a driver lost control of a motor car which eventually plunged into the trench along Dennis Street, Sophia causing an occupant to lose his life.last_img read more

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‘Reverse Dependency Syndrome’

first_imgAn entrepreneur of the United States of America, Mr. Juan Casimiro, has emphasized the need for Liberians to reverse from dependency to champion their own cause to become sustainable through business.Making the assertion in an interview following a Training of Trainers (TOT) workshop organized for young Liberian entrepreneurs by the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia, Mr. Casimiro indicated that Liberia, like other countries around the world, depends on others for survival— something he said people need to seriously put behind them to engage in business ventures that will make them successful entrepreneurs, instead of depending on others.“What I see in Liberia, like other countries, is that people depend too much on others. They see these NGOs and the government and decide to depend on them.  You have to reverse that mindset, become self- enterprising, become self sustainable,” he stressed.Highlighting the nature of the four-day workshop, Mr. Casimiro said it is meant to provide knowledge for young entrepreneurs to be successful in life and be able to manage money the best way and to become independent entrepreneurs.He said they had a training exercise for the same group last October, and the Training of Trainer component came to prepare these Liberians to train others in their communities in return.The program, according to the workshop facilitator, in line with U.S. Government under the leadership of President Barak Obama was initiated for African youths; about 850 Liberians have applied to be a part it.Of the 850 Mr. Casimiro said only about 15 to 20 will be selected from Liberia to form a part.Concerning the Casimiro Global Foundation he operates as an entrepreneur, Mr. Casimiro said he came with the dream following the death of his father fourteen years ago when he realized that he could not just sit to mourn but to undertake a venture in honor of his deceased father.The foundation, he said is concerned with three programs; namely, Global Youth Chain of Commerce, Global Youth internship Program and SEED (Social Enterprise & Entrepreneurship Development) Fund.He said while some have the entrepreneurial knowledge and plan to make a business grow, they lack funds to invest in business.  Therefore, he said the SEED aspect of the foundation was included to provide funds for prepared entrepreneurs who will want to start a business but lack the capital.Mr. Casimiro assured that some of the Liberian entrepreneurs that underwent the training may receive funding from his foundation, but they will have to submit their business plans through electronic mail and he and the board of the foundation will assess and properly evaluate the plans before providing fund for some of them.To keep the trained entrepreneurs in touch, the facilitator said there will be a periodic video conference with them and will constantly be exchanging emails so they remain acquainted with what they need to know to train others in their respective communities.The twenty participants are mainly young Liberians who have gained knowledge at various accredited universities in the country.Commenting on the significance of the workshop, two of the twenty participants, Suah Wanyan and Chebio W. Dickson II, expressed delight over being a part of the training. They noted that it left them more determined to becoming entrepreneurs, instead of relying on government or other institutions to provide jobs for them.Suah Wanyan who is already operating a sanitation company said strategies learnt from the training will help her not only to train others, but will provide her the opportunity to explore avenues on how to sustain and account for her business.For his part, Chebio W. Dickson said the workshop has given him leadership direction in addition to his Business Management gained at the university. He said he will make sure he uses his knowledge to succeed in business.Meanwhile, having gained their business knowledge through the U.S. embassy, the participants returned the gesture by offering a token of appreciation to the embassy and its facilitator.As is customary, on occasions, they gowned Mr. Casimiro and presented to one of U.S. Embassy staff, an artifact symbolizing friendship. It was intended for Ambassador Deborah Malac who was unable to attend the closing ceremony.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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True Confession: ‘What If I told Him I Loved Him?’

first_imgIt was one of those days, the sun had just begun to set as I made my way home from my office feeling very exhausted and wondering how I was going to make it home on time to release Alice; my son Abraham’s nanny off her duty. While standing at the intersection of Carey and Lynch Street not knowing which way would be best to stand in order to quickly catch a cab, there to my surprise a green Range Rover pulled over right in front of me.At first, I hesitated because the vehicle had tinted windows and I was afraid of entering in an unknown car not knowing what might happen to me. But taking into consideration how difficult it was trying to catch a taxi at that particular hour, nearing dusk, I walked to the vehicle. To my surprise there sat in the driver’s seat my long lost ‘crush’ Joe who I had not seen in a little over five years. Seeing this guy again after so long brought back a fresh memory of feelings I had for him which, I had thought, with time would heal but I guess I was wrong because looking into his face brought a shiver into my body that only one that has an emotional control over me, could. I was really excited to see my old crush once more with hopes and thoughts that maybe it was fate that brought him back into my life, most especially the fact that I was now a single woman. Quickly, I hurried into the car with so much hope! As I entered the vehicle I noticed another guy sitting in the passenger’s seat who I later found out was his new best friend. And then the conversation started:Me: Gosh! It’s been ages! Where have you been all these years?Joe: I was in Ghana for a while and came back last year.Me: Wow and you did not even bother checking up on me after all my inquiries about you?Joe: No it’s not like that, I have been asking about you but most of my friends didn’t seem to know you. Plus I lost all my contacts when I lost my phone.Me: Anyway it’s all in the past now. I’m so glad to see you. So do you still live on Duport Road?Joe: No, I moved on the Old Road (hesitating a little when he said that).Me: Oh good! You’re not far from me because I live right at the Airfield shortcut.My expectation was high, hoping, now that we’ve seen each other again, maybe it was fate and this time around we could actually start something intimate; remembering how he had chased me for over seven years and at that time I had told him I was saving myself for marriage. I was 80% sincere about my response to him but half of it was also due to the fact that I was afraid of getting my heart broken. He had recently come out of college and wasn’t ready for any kind of serious relationship, at least that was what I thought. But it still didn’t change the fact that I had feelings for him and all I did was to suppress those feelings at the time. Seeing him all over made me realize how much I still wanted him. So engrossed in our conversation, I had totally forgotten that there was someone else in the car with us; until Joe began to struggle with his response when I asked him where exactly on the Old Road he was living. And that’s when his friend decided to break the ice!Friend: But are you not going to tell her the truth?Me: Tell me what truth?Friend: (Thrusting a wedding invitation card in my hand) He’s getting married in two weeks and he lives with his fiancé on the Old Road.I couldn’t believe what I heard. My heart sank because my hope was shattered. My entire soul left my body for at least 30 seconds; disappointment was an understatement! My ears could not believe what they had just heard; my heart refused to send the message to my brain, that my long-lost love was getting married to another woman. Immediately my mind shut down with only seven thoughts of “What If” questions for me to consider.What if he was the one for me? What if I had not refused his love? What if I hadn’t told him I was keeping myself for marriage? What if I tried to change his mind? What if I told him that I loved him? What if I offered him all that he ever wanted; my body, soul, heart and mind? Would all of these make any difference now that I knew he had found love elsewhere? What if this was all an illusion, a hallucination of what my mind wanted it to be?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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Criminal Lawyer Jason Doe Solves The Case of the Murdered Lawmaker

first_imgIt was one of the unusual homicide cases in Monrovia in recent times. Criminal lawyer Jason Doe was defending Samson Sombai, accused of murdering a female lawmaker. It became apparent that the District Attorney was determined to pull all the strings to bind the defendant over for a jury trial a situation that his defense lawyer, Jason Doe was determined to prevent.Although Jason Doe enjoyed such a trial, where he would stand before twelve common citizens to give his client his day in court, where he would use his ingenuity in cross-examining witnesses who would claim his client was guilty as charged. But in this particular case he realized the prosecution did not have enough proof beyond all reasonable doubt and was prepared to explore that angle. The discovery of the lawmaker’s remains generated much public interest and exerted enormous pressure that could undermine the execution of justice in the case.Lawmaker Estella Yongor’s death raised questions about her associates. There were reports that she might have been killed after she had received a gold wrist watch, missing after her body was discovered, which provided the added twist as Monrovians followed the case with passion.Metropolitan newspapers in the city made wide guesses and in a sensational angle, one of the most respected newspapers carried an editorial with a touch of irony in the lighter side of life:It would be the discovery of her missing gold watch that could help prosecutors a chance to give her death some justice. The demise of the woman known among her colleagues as the ‘law-lady’ has once again brought it painful home that there is always a day of reckoning.Estella Yongor’s end did not come because she had served her people well; it came because of certain decisions, ambitious as they might have been, were not appreciated by the very people she had been hobnobbing for many years. Sadly, the woman known in frequenting where even Angels would not dare, has provided Monrovians much to talk about. An argument at a local club leading to her death is more intriguing than the bitterness of her death. Estella Yongor, the controversial lawmaker’s life was full of mystery and contradiction. Consider the following, as reported during the week of her death: “I saw the lawmaker that night,” said Monrovia Scratch Card Seller, Sam Toe, “she had on a gold watch and was a beauty that much I can tell you.” “A real beauty?” our reporter heard the question from an inquisitor, a young man who also admitted he admired the lawmaker.  Toe smiled, and said, “Yes, but there was this guy with her, and he was not that dashing in his outlook but there was something like a character in his looks. “Then after say twenty minutes, another man, he was a chubby type of guy and about twenty seven years old. His face was filled with rage.  “It was hard to know what was responsible but he demanded for a gold wrist watch which started an argument that ended up in a melee.”Our investigations revealed that the lawmaker had had some inner-circle friends and one of them could have sparked the fuse that led to her untimely death at thirty five. But the question is: Where is her gold wrist watch? The discovery could lead to the eventual resolution of this horrible crime.   The unrestrained but incriminating reports on the case in the media demonstrated people’s anger, and therefore many applauded when Judge Samson Saywah issued a gag order, preventing further reporting till the preliminary trial was over.  When her body was found, parts were missing, prosecuting witness, homicide investigative officer Detective Robert Monger testified during the pre-trial. It was a case of intrigue and a chance to salvage the only image left for the former lawmaker. In court, the blistering atmosphere indicated the tragedy of the day, and the prosecutor was out for the kill as the case opened.  “What else?” Prosecutor Santos Weah said, directing attention at detective Monger.  “William Sombai, the defendant was caught with a briefcase that belonged to the decedent.”  “When and where did you find William Sombai?”  “It was two days after the murder and a witness at the club mentioned that he came along with the decedent.  “We found him at his house in Duala drunk. Evidently he was under the influence of narcotics and a test indicated it was marijuana.”  “What did you do next?”  “We took him into custody and invited assistance from the JFK Medical Center. After some help, it took him two more days before he was sober.”  “Ok,” the prosecutor said, “what did you do next?”  “Well, when he sobered enough, he was able to explain his involvement and particularly how he got the briefcase belonging to the decedent.”  “How did he get the briefcase?”  “He said he found it behind the club, the Mayors Club, where the decedent and her friends had been the night of her murder.”  “Did he reveal what happened to the lawmaker?”  “Well,” the officer said, “initially he was not sure what was at stake till we informed him about the death of the lawmaker.”  “What was his reaction?”  “He broke down and wept but explained that he was not involved.”  “He was not involved in what?”  “In the lawmaker’s murder.”  “And what else happened to him?”  “He admitted that he was not himself that night and therefore he could not explain any circumstances that might have led to his involvement, if there was any at all, in the murder.”  The prosecutor hesitated, and then said, “Did the defendant admit any knowledge of any of the persons that were with the lawmaker?” “Well, he admitted being there himself, I mean William Sombai…” but he was interrupted by the prosecutor, “When you said William Sombai, are you referring to William Sombai who is the defendant and is in this Courtroom?” “Yes,” the officer said, “and as I was saying defendant Sombai explained during our investigations that he had long known the decedent would end up that way.”  “’What way did he mean?”  “I think…”  “Don’t think,” the prosecutor responded, “just answer the question as best as you know it from the defendant.” “In that case,” he answered, “he meant the way the lawmaker died.”  The Courtroom remained quiet, as spectators focused their attention on the detective.  On the defense’s side, the defendant sat somberly beside criminal lawyer Jason Doe, who watched the witness with a slight frown on his face.  “Detective Monger,” the prosecutor pressed on, “you searched the defendant’s room?”  “Yes.” “What did you find?”  “A wrist watch, a gold wrist watch with the owner’s initial on it.”  “Whose initials were they?”  “The initials of the decedent.”  “Do you have it with you?”   “Yes.”   The detective shuffled his pocket and withdrew a gold wrist watch with the initials E. Y. on it.  “What initials do you see on the wrist watch, Detective Monger?”  “They are the letters E Y.”  “Indicating Estella Yongor?”  “Yes.”  “What was the defendant’s response as to how he came to possess the gold wrist watch?”   “Initially he was unable to explain how he came by the wrist watch till he realized the difficult position when his…”   The prosecutor said, “Did his lawyer intervene?”   “Yes and the defendant further explained that the decedent had presented the watch to him as a gift.”  “What happened next?”   “When he was told that the owner of the wrist watch had been murdered, he said he would be blamed for her death.”  “What did he do?” “For the next seven days, he could not stop weeping.”  “What did he say, during this course?”  “He would say ‘I know they would blame me, but I did not do it,’ which was very much shocking.”  “And he admitted without being put under pressure that he was with the decedent but could not explain specifically his role during the period that the lawmaker reportedly died?”  “Yes.”  The prosecutor smiled, and turning to Counselor Doe, said, “Your witness.”  Jason Doe strolled leisurely towards the witness and staring Detective Monger in the face, said: “You saw the gold wrist watch with the defendant?”  “Yes.”  “And initials there indicated EY, which you testified to represent Estella Yongor?”   “Yes.”   “But you will agree that the letters, EY can represent many other names other than Estella Yongor?”   “Yes.”   “It could be Eternal Youth, or Esther Young?”   “Yes.”  The lawyer saw a slightly confused look in the witness’ face, and said, “You examined the briefcase found by the defendant?”  “Yes and we found out several personal effects of the decedent in it.”  “Was there anything to suggest that someone had tampered with the briefcase?”  “Yes.”  “And the lawmaker, with all due respect to her memory, was known to have certain relations with certain characters in her community?”  “Yes,” he said, “but evidently she was having a good time.”  “During your investigations, Detective Monger the defendant was cooperative?”  The witness nodded and said quietly, “Of course.”  A flickering light overshadowed the room, as the lawyer paced back and forth, hammering out questions with a professional torch. The spectators waited patiently, expecting the lawyer to spring one of his unusual questions to get the witness to create doubts with his answers. And the lawyer did not disappoint them when he charged:  “The decedent was involved in many projects and there was one, Detective Monger that indicated that she, on a number of occasions, argued with a man who had threatened her?”  “Police found out that that threat was not anything serious,” the witness answered, his dark and piercing eyes staring into the lawyer’s gaze.  “Who made the threat against the lawmaker?” Searching through his memories, the detective said, “It was one Samuel Boimah.”  “What did he do?”  “He made some attempts to blackmail the lawmaker.”  “Let me refer you to the briefcase which the police collected from the defendant,” Jason Doe said, “among the fingerprints was that of Samuel Boimah.”  “Yes.”  “Mr. Boimah was indebted to the lawmaker in the amount of U$5,000?”  “That’s correct.”  “And since Samuel Boimah was unable or did not want to repay the debt, did it not stand to reason that the pressure from the lawmaker compelled Boimah to engineer the lawmaker’s demise to free himself from the debt burden?”  “Well,” the witness’s smooth composure was broken by a faint surprise as he fumbled with his response, “We…considered that angle.” Nodding slowly, the lawyer said: “And what was your answer from that angle?” The lawyer’s question seemed to freeze the witness from inaction.  The embarrassing situation was saved when, Judge Saywah said, “The Court finds this case very interesting and stipulates with the benefit of the defendant that there is Samuel Boimah’s angle that the police must urgently investigate and therefore the Court hereby adjourns the case till and will resume tomorrow morning at 10a.m.”  However, early the next morning, Jason Doe and his client, along with several well-wishers, sat at the lawyer’s Benson Street office in Monrovia. The morning echoes of laughter by passersby whirled around as well as those of taxis and buses that plied the Somalia Drive and Bushrod Island communities. The lawyer’s secretary Janet Lovebird held several dailies newspapers. She entered the office, with glittering eyes and strolled to the lawyer, handing him one of the daily newspapers. The lawyer grinned and stared at the front page of the paper, with the bold banner headline: ‘Sam Boimah Admits Killing Lawmaker.’  The lawyer smiled and placing his right hand on his client’s shoulder, said, “In the end the police was forced to do a thorough work that should have been done in the first place.”   Samson Sombai responded with a smile.  “Now the police have done it,” the lawyer told him, “and you are free.”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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Gov’t Assures Health Workers of Hazard Pay Benefits

first_imgThe Government of Liberia, through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), has assured all public health workers of its commitment to settle their hazard benefits.The MFDP in a release yesterday, informed all beneficiaries that hazard payments of all public health workers’ hazard benefits will end as at May 31, 2015. The Ministry of Finance and Development Planning therefore reiterated that hazard payments will be made to private health workers covering four months, while death benefit payments will continue through the validation process.The MFDP release also noted that the government will continue to make payments until all targeted beneficiaries are fully settled for nine months, which began September 2014. Also, one-off payments are budgeted for private health facilities, to be graduated on the basis of size of the targeted facilities. The Ministry of Health is finalizing work in this regard, the released stated.“At the conclusion of all hazard and related payments, the total cost would be US$23.1 million with approximately 11,500 persons paid.Following the settlement of public health workers hazard payment, the government, through the Ministry of Health, will ensure the setting up of a resource centre, certification of health workers, medical and psycho-social care for responders.The MFDP release noted that the Ministry is once more on behalf of the government commending all health workers for their “esteemed service” to humanity and the country as their devotion and the resilience of the populace resulted to the World Health Organization declaring Liberia an Ebola-free country.”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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Legislature to Scrutinize Referendum in Ganta

first_imgThe agenda for the referendum on the crucial change in the 1986 Liberian Constitution will be finalized by the House of Representatives at the end of an upcoming five-day Constitutional Proposed Amendment Retreat sponsored by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), House Speaker J. Alex Tyler has said.Speaker Tyler and 34 other Representatives of the 15 sub-division of the country are expected to meet in the commercial city of Ganta, Nimba County, from Tuesday, November 17 to Saturday, November 21, 2015 to make the crucial decision.The Chairman of the Joint Committee on Good Governance, Election and Inauguration, Nimba County Electoral District #8 Rep. Larry Younquoi, said in a major press conference yesterday that the five-day retreat would allow the lawmakers to dissect the 25 proposals from the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC), which were compiled after consultations throughout the country’s 73 Electoral Districts as well as in selected foreign countries where large numbers of Liberians reside.He said the House will also put the President’s proposals under spotlight.The Acting Chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary, Nimba County Electoral District #7 Rep. Worlea Sayway Dunah, said the Lawmakers’ decision to set the agenda for the Referendum would be done based on the opinions of experts.According to him, former Solicitor General and Labor Minister of Liberia, Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe, and Law Professor Nevada Ricks will give their respective expert opinions.Land and Environmental Advocate, Cllr. Alfred Brownell, the President of the Liberia Business Association (LIBA), Dee-Maxwell Kemayan, as well as former Senator and former Chief Justice, Cllr. Gloria Scott, who is also Chairman of the Constitution Review Commission (CRC), will also give their opinions.Cllr. Scott told journalists at yesterday’s press conference that the Referendum can be held no sooner than one year after Lawmakers endorsed the holding of the Referendum.She also said there would be special designs for the ballot, which will be understandable to people who can and cannot read and write, “but all will have ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ columns in accordance with Article 92 of the Constitution.” According to Article 92, “Proposed constitutional amendments shall be accompanied by statements setting forth the reasons therefore and shall be published in the Official Gazette and made known to the people through the information services of the Republic. If more than one proposed amendment is to be voted upon in a referendum they shall be submitted in such manner that the people may vote for or against them separately.” Cllr. Scott also said the change in the Constitution would serve as reparation for those who suffered from the country’s 14 years civil crisis.It may be recalled that in an eight-page letter to House Speaker Tyler, President Sirleaf concurred with 18 out of the 25 suggestions from the CRC and seeks an endorsement from the Legislature for a referendum on the proposals to change the Constitution.President Sirleaf agreed with the first three recommendations of the CRC, which called for the reduction of the presidential tenure from six to four years; Senatorial term from nine to six years; and the reduction of representatives from six to four years.The President also concurred on the suggestions that private owners on whose land mineral or natural resources are found should share the benefits accrued by the government and be part of the negotiation; that the Chief Justice should not be elected; superintendents, commissioners, mayors and chiefs be elected and election commissioners be appointed by the President.Other proposals that the President agreed with include: respect and recognition for persons with disabilities, which should be enshrined in the Constitution, and education and job opportunities accorded them; prioritize the participation of Liberians in economic activities, and; that traditional people should own their own lands and be party to any negotiation. The President further concurred that the constitution should ensure women’s participation in governance and national affairs; the constitution and all legal documents should carry the pronouns he/she, and; the age of marriage for girls should be at least 18 years.The remaining concurrences by the President are that women have access to equal economic and social opportunities; the Constitution should guarantee inheritance rights for traditional women, and; people in prolonged cohabitation should enjoy marital rights, among others.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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One-Stop (online) Government

first_imgThe expansion of the internet and its accompanying technologies has brought both increased efficiency and new methods of communication. Since its (internet) advent, governments around the world have worked assiduously using all forms of Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) to bring public administration online for the provision of services and information to their “customers” (citizens, businesses, governments, government employees). This is also called electronic government or eGovernment. One aspect of eGovernment involves the use of a single medium or a one-stop shop to deliver services and information to customers of public administration. We refer to this single platform as a “ONE-STOP (ONLINE) GOVERNMENT” which is the focus of today’s article.The “one-stop (online) government” is a modern approach in public administration reform that integrates of public services from a “customer of public services” – point of view. Under the one-stop paradigm, all of a customer’s business can be completed in a single contact using an electronic portal or ePortal. One-stop customers do not have to hunt around, call back, or repeatedly explain their situation in order to gain services or information.There several benefits that customers of public administration can enjoy via a one-stop (online) service platform. This includes but is not limited to convenience, accessibility, personalization and availability of services 24/7/365 a year, using any internet connected device. This characterizes the modern paradigm shift in our way of living. The beauty of a One-stop (online) Government is that decisions that would take days/weeks/months to make are made in a few seconds through automated processes and the click of a mouse.In order to work seamless and effectively a one-stop (online) government” platform requires that all Ministries, Agencies, Commissions (MACs) of the Liberian government are interconnected through ICTs and that Liberians are able to access public services through a single point (ePortal) even if these services are actually provided by different MACs. One-stop (online) government requires the reengineering of the public sector’s processes. It calls for a holistic framework that supports integrated modelling of electronic public services and synchronization with the technical development.The holistic framework mentioned above provides an important guideline to address different aspects impacting a one-stop (online) government system. Moreover, the legal aspects framing one-stop (online) government development and the social impacts of such developments for different “customer groups” must be understood.In Liberia our online one-stop shop portal is in the early stages of development. It provides information and access to limited set of Government services. The goal is to be more transactional with customers of public administration. However; the level of integration necessary to provide advanced transaction capabilities is still a work in progressEGovernment systems have become prevalent around the world and are now an accepted standard of good government. And they are and have been successful because governments’ eServices run in parallel with existing traditional public service channels in order to bridge the digital divide and avoid excluding large sections of the population from access to government services. In other words, a one-stop (online) government platform supplement, but do not substitute for other government service delivery channels.There are several gains that can be garnered from one-stop (online) governments. These gains usually come from streamlining government bureaucracy and increasing citizen satisfaction. In addition, online one-stop shop allows greater transparency of public services, greater accountability of public servants and politicians, reduced corruption, lower costs for business, greater attraction of foreign invest.EGovernment also improves interagency IT initiatives for the improvement of customer service, to consolidate redundant systems, decrease paperwork, increase productivity and save money. It brings an order of magnitude in improvement in the Government of Liberia’s value to the citizen, especially by its ability to provide decisions effectively and promptly in minutes or hours and not in weeks or months as is done in the traditional settings.I have said a lot of good things about a one-stop (online) government. It would be disingenuous of me not to indicate some of its challenges. While interest in one-stop-government continues to grow, little knowledge exists regarding crucial success factors and barriers. Filling this gap is particularly difficult, especially in developing countries. The need for a robust telecommunications infrastructure, human capacity, the absence of an eGovernment champion at senior level (usually the head of the nation), the unwillingness of government to make available the amount needed to enhance eGovernment continue to hinder the existence of things such as an one-stop (online) government.I must say that I am proud of the developments in Liberia’s ICT sector. To reach a point where we are discussing and bringing government online is in fact an indication that a lot has been done to reach this far. By a lot, I mean the following: The development of a national ICT policy, a liberalized ICT market, a national policy maker, regulator and operator, several private operator, connection to a submarine optical fiber cable, a Universal Access program that will soon to start, a Chief Information Officer regime that is underway, an Project/Programs Management office for eGovernment programs, a national initiative to place computer labs in public schools, and now, an online one-stop shop for access to Governments services and information.These are just a few of the developments in the ICT sector. It would take more than a newspaper article to be able to list all. But I am convinced that the few listed have proved my point. And, if you ask me, I’d tell you that within a decade, we have leapfrogged in to a level of modernity that we could not have achieved in such a short time, a few years ago. I stand corrected of course!Until next week, Carpe diem!!!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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