Fistfight For Job at Maritime Bureau in Monrovia

By Josephus Moses Gray
Monrovia, Liberia

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

February 20, 2004

Normal working and business activities at the Sinkor head office of the Bureau of Maritime Affairs in Monrovia came to a standstill on Tuesday, February 17th owing to a fistfight for a top position in the bureau.

The three-hour clashes which affected the free flow of traffic were brought under control by the United Nations Mission to Liberia (UNMIL) but the effect of the incident remains visible while several persons have been victimized in the process, as their belongings were forcibly seized. The ugly situation would had gone off hand had it not been of the timely intervention of UNMIL.

The fistfight which left several persons injured, took place among loyalists of the disbanded National Patriotic Party (NPP) led government and the main rebel group-Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD). The two groups were fighting for the position of Deputy Maritime Commissioner for “Administration”.

According to the Comprehensive Accra peace accord on Liberia, the Bureau of Maritime Affairs is allotted to the rebel group-Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL). The five deputy commissioner positions at the bureau were to be shared among the former GOL, LURD and transitional government.

The commissioner of the Bureau is Mr. J. D. Tiah Slanger, he was nominated to the slot by MODEL and endorsed by members of the National transitional Legislative Assembly(NTLA) following is confirmation, while LURD’s Chairman Sekou Damate Conneh nominated Mr. Mohammed Kamara to the bureau to occupy the position of Deputy Commissioner for Administration.

The former GOL has also nominated Mr. Melvin Sogbandi to fill position. Both Kamara and Sogbandi are tussling over the position but Mr. Sogbandi nomination has been approved by the Chairman of the transitional government, Gyude Bryant, while the LURD nominee is yet to get Chairman Bryant blessings.

The LURD nominee occupied the position in questioned since October 2003 following the seating of the NTGL, while the former GOL nominee also took over the affairs of the same position late December 2003. Sources at the bureau said Commissioner Slanger has been interacting with Mr. Kamara as deputy commissioner for Administration despite the appointment of Mr. Sogbandi to same position.

According to some employees of the bureau, the incident started when Mr. Kamara accompanied by a group of LURD fighters decided to forcibly take over the office of the deputy commissioner for Administration. However, the LURD fighters met up with stiff resistance from the former GOL fighters serving as security at the bureau.

Meanwhile, the fight for jobs has become a common practice in Liberia as people are tussling over jobs in the transitional government.