Friday, February 28, 2014 Page 2 |
Wade C.L. Williams, firstname.lastname@example.org
here has been growing speculations over who is claiming credit within the Liberian government for efforts to revamp the Mt. Coffee Hydro Power Plant. During the launch of the hydro works in January this year there were even rumors that the minister of Lands, Mines and Energy Patrick Sendolo removed the name of Finance Minister Amara Konneh from a drafted list of speakers sent to him by the management of the Liberia Electricity Corporation creating some serious tension between the two young ministers of the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf-led government. Sources hinted FrontPageAfrica that it took the intervention of the President that the name of the Finance Minister was placed back on the list of speakers at the program.On Thursday, at the Ministry of Information regular Press
Brieng the question again was raised by a journalist and
the response that was to follow did not in any way allay
fears of a ght between the two ministers.
Energy Minister Sendolo apparently unwilling to let
Finance Minister alone take credit for a project that’s not
even completed made it emphatically clear that the ministry
of nance cannot claim the credit merely because it sourced the funding for the project.
“Those comments have been attributed to certain people but it will be irresponsible to say that Finance is doing
energy projects,” he said.
Continued Minister Sendolo: “Everywhere else in the
world, ministry of nance raises revenue, manages budget,
etc. show me one country in the world where ministries of
nance do energy projects, much less hydro projects; it just
doesn’t happen. I know minister Konneh didn’t say that, it would be absurd for him to say that because nowhere in the
world does the minister of nance do an energy project”.
Minister Sendolo prides himself with the Mt. Coffee Hydro
project dating back to his days at the Project Implementation
Unit at the Executive Mansion (Foreign Affairs) and he
feels that the ght for ownership of credit is irrelevant.
“Let’s not get into speculations about how one may argue, I think it is fair for anybody to speak about their association
with a project; I think it is unfair for somebody to attribute
to a person that the person said that he did Mt. Coffee,
because it is not true,” said Sendolo.“I’ve been working on this project since 2010 along with
many other people who’ve placed a lot of time and effort
into this project; so it will be a shame to see such a great
effort by so many patriotic Liberian men and women being
reduced to some kind of squabble over who did what or who claims what. I think it is really unfortunate.”
But even though Sendolo claims only to be concerned about the end product of what all the efforts placed into the hydro revamping process would lead to the greater good of all which is cheap energy supply, his Liberian parable on the argument says otherwise.“It is like you and somebody go and cut palm nuts, the man holds the stick and you climb up the tree and cut the palm nuts and then when you leave from there, the man that holds
the stick says ‘I cut the palm nuts’,” said Minister Sendolo.
The Lands, Mines and Energy Minister told reporters that
he was constrained to respond to the question because it had
popped up, but he was not concerned about who really was claiming credit.
“What makes a difference to me; my job is to ensure that Mt. Coffee and all the other energy projects are completed and that the Liberian people get the electricity they deserve; nish; all the rest of the stuff is secondary,” he said.
Continued Sendolo: “I can’t list to you the number of people
who have done something about Mt. Coffee; plenty people have done a lot about Mt. Coffee; this is not something that just one man can stand and say ‘I did Mt. Coffee’ no! The
efforts have been relative, everybody have done something
different; everybody has made contributions but the point
is, as I said, does it really make a difference, who did Mt.
Coffee, or who claims to have done Mt. Coffee.”
When asked about his relationship with the minister of
nance, Minister Sendolo brushed off claims that he was in a ght with his colleague another young minister with
whom he has over the past years worked to see to it that Liberia’s energy needs are solved.“This is not about whether I like somebody or whether
somebody likes me; it doesn’t make a difference; what matters is that the work gets done,” he said.
Continued Sendolo: “I have no sour relationship with anybody, I maintain excellent and cordial relationship with
everybody because again; let’s not forget, this is not about Patrick Sendolo; this is about the work that we have to do;
this is about the country. That being said let’s be clear, I didn’t hear the stories, I only heard that people said, second
and third hand references. I know minister Konneh well; I
know Minister Konneh did not say that he’s responsible for
Mt. Coffee; I can challenge anyone here to say that he said the contrary.”He said Mt. Coffee is a project of public record adding that
it is not something the government is doing in what he calls ‘the backroom’.“Everything on Mt. Coffee is thoroughly documented. Anybody who wants to know the difference or the truth can
refer to the records,” he said.
When asked to comment on the matter, Finance Minister Konneh who seemed unscathed by his colleague’s response
to the speculative question said the media was fanning the ames to create a situation where it seems there exists a ght between him and his colleague.
“The media is trying to create a situation that doesn’t exist and is immaterial to the success of our programs which is
unfair to minister Sendolo and I,” he said.
“We are working very hard pushing each other to deliver on
the administration’s development agenda.”
Sources believe the uneasiness about who takes credit for the hydro revamping process that is now underway after eight years of the Sirleaf-led government, came as a result of the
passion that has been expressed by the minister of nance
in seeing Liberia get cheap energy, something he has always mentioned during his numerous media interactions. But sources also within the government who did not want to be named said the Lands, Mines and Energy Minister thinks he is being undercut as the sector minister in the government’s energy program and did not take kindly to Konneh’s passion for the revamping of Mt. Coffee.For his part, Finance Minister Konneh has been central
gure in negotiating for the funds that is needed for the
hydro revamping process, which cost of rehabilitation and
upgrading is estimated at US$230 million.
Recently at the Hydro launch Konneh said to fund the Mt.
Coffee project, Government has already concluded a US$65
million concessional loan deal with the European Central
Bank, while donors have committed US$107 million.
He also disclosed that Germany and Norway pledged grants
of US$32 million and US$75 million respectively, while the Liberian Government budgeted US$45 million for the project.
The remaining funds will be raised through the European Investment Bank as a loan and would help to fast track the
loan acquisition according to Konneh.
“Government is desperate for the restoration of hydro facilities that if it means to reduce the number of foreign
travels and fuel supplies to government ofcials to get the system on we will have to do that,” Minister Konneh said at the hydro launch on January 28, 2014.
The rehabilitation process of the Mt. Coffee power hydro is divided into three phases: Phase One is expected to witness
the switching on of the rst two turbines by December 2015; while full capacity will be restored by May 2016 at
which time all three turbines would come on.The Mount Coffee Hydro plant was dedicated by President
William V. S. Tubman in 1964 and served as a cheap and
affordable source of electricity until its destruction during
Liberia’s civil conict.The hydro project is a major one for the government and
the fact that everyone in the government who is related to
this work has spoken on the matter makes it difcult to say
which one of them is claiming absolute credit.
“I have no sour relationship with anybody, I maintain excellent and cordial relationship with everybody because again; let’s not forget, this is not about Patrick Sendolo; this is about the work that we have to do; this is about the country. That being said let’s be clear, I didn’t hear the stories, I only heard that people said, second and third hand references."