Liberian Transitional Government Buys 334 Vehicles Worth Over US$8 Million
...European Union, Others Raised Concern

By Josephus Moses Gray
Monrovia, Liberia


The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

August 31, 2004

Assembly member travels on Garnersville Highway in his new jeep while blinking his lights.
Amidst abject poverty, low wages for civil servants, compounded by lack of essential social services in the country, the two year-power sharing transitional government of Liberia under the Chairmanship of businessman, Charles Gyude Bryant has reportedly purchased about 334 new vehicles valued about US$8.5 million dollars.

The vehicles are brought into the country by a Lebanese business entity- the Alliance Motor Corporation, a foreign entity owned and run by the President of the World Lebanese Cultural Union of Liberia (WLCU), Mr. George Haddad. Mr. Haddad, a business tycoon is also the chief executive officer of the Bridge Way Corporation, a business entity that enjoyed some level of rice monopoly under the former regime of ex-president Charles Taylor.

The huge spending on vehicles and the lack of accountability and transparency in the Bryant's power sharing government have prompted public outcry, with the latest coming from the headquarters of the European Union in Liberia. The EU Representative to Liberia, Mr. Jeffrey Rudd on 26 August spoke out publicly against spending on luxurious vehicles, this he said has the propensity to stop donors’ support to Liberia, a West African nation devastated by 14-year bloody civil war.

In his inaugural address on 14 October 2003, Chairman Bryant among other things publicly said his administration would not tolerate "corruption", promising accountability and transparency. But this historic address delivered about ten months ago now appears to be abandoned by the very person who gave it. Corruption and lack of accountability and transparency have become the order of the Bryant government - business as usual.

Additionally, Liberians still await the government (comprising of belligerent groups, political parties, civil society organization and pressure groups) to deliver its promises which, among others things, include the reduction of the prices of basic commodities including the nation's staple food - rice, as well as petroleum products.

Prices for the basic commodities, presently, have been raised to the level that ordinary Liberians find it very difficult to meet up with their daily needs, while at the same time the lack of improved transportation system has created a serious problem for the inhabitants to reach their destination on time.

As the result of the hike in the transportation fare, which is due to lack of sufficient commercial vehicles in the streets, Monrovians have to scramble to board vehicles while others who can not afford the cost have to walk long distances for hours to reach their destinations; yet, the government has purchased 334 vehicles for officials of the three branches of the government.

According to statistics gathered from reliable sources in the government in Monrovia, the 334 vehicles include 76 Cherokee jeeps for members of the First branch of government, 10 grand Cherokee jeeps, 66 Cherokee Laredo, 91 Chrysler cars, 50 neon lx Chrysler sedans and 41 Neon se Chrysler sedans, respectively.

All theses vehicles are brought into the country by the Alliance Motor Corporation which was awarded the contracts without going through a biding system to allow others business institutions the opportunity to bid for the contracts. Many persons spoken to in high government circles believe that this was done for personnel gains on the part of some individuals within government decision making circles.

The report further revealed that the government spent US$2,649,234.70 on the 76 Cherokee vehicles for members of the National Transitional Legislative Assembly (NTLA), US$375,750.00 for 10 grand Cherokee jeeps while US$2,273,498.70 was earmarked for the 66 Cherokee Laredo.

Furthermore, US$1,562,668.50 was spent for the 91 Chrysler vehicles, while US$907,345.00 for 50 neon lx Chrysler sedans, and another US$655,323,50 spent for the 41neon se Chrysler sedan vehicles.

Out of the total number of vehicles purchased by the government, 128 are distributed to the executive branch of government while 76 for the legislative branch of government and the rest went to either the judicial and closed associates of the government.

Recently, while The Perspective was conducting an investigation at the Bushrod Island compound of the Alliance Motor Corporation, a group of top government officials including Ministers of Finance, Gender and Development were seen pulling into the garage of the corporation to select vehicles of their choice. Also spotted at the compound was General Services Agency (GSA) director, Edward Farley and some members of the NTLA.

Besides going to the corporation compound to attend businesses, it has now become the usual habits of some senior and junior officials of government to visit Mr. George Haddad regularly at his corporation offices every Friday and Saturday to make some requests for either rice and financial assistances, a source said.