A Civil Society Organization, BudgIT Liberia, has expressed serious dismay and disappointment over the government over the unwillingness to address the series of protestations and agitation of workers of the Reclaiming Liberia Beaches and Waterways project for salary owed to the authorized and unauthorized workers of the project.
The Reclaiming Liberia Beaches and Waterways Program, which falls under the direct supervision of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, was established during the administration of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to give a facelift to waterways and beaches in Liberia and to help provide employment opportunities for scores of slum dwellers. The project has employed about 3,950 slum dwellers living in Monrovia and its environs over the past years.
According to a press release issued yesterday, Thursday, June 10, 2021, and under the signature of Mr. Abraham Varney, initially, the government owed workers under this project 21 months’ salary but went into an agreement to pay six months’ salary arrears to authorized workers and three months’ salary arrears to unauthorized workers due to the global economic crisis encountered during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We recognize and acknowledge the present economic hardship in the country and urge the government of Liberia to honor the existing agreement between both parties. To pay the agreed sum of $2 million (USD) as a considerable amount to settle all arrears for the Beaches and waterways project authorized and unauthorized workers”, Mr. Varney said.
BudgIT said that both parties agreed that the government should pay the said amount to the service providers within sixty days of signing the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Beaches and Waterways Project Termination and Settlements of all salary arrears. The MOU came into full effect on March 16, 2021, and the sixty days payment timeline has elapsed.
“The government of Liberia has made an initial payment of USD 565,000 toward the 2 million USD commitments and owes a balance of 1,435,000 USD. We call on the government to handle this issue with integrity and honor its agreement to the Reclaiming Liberia Beaches and Waterway project and pay the outstanding salary of 1,435,000 USD as part of the revised six and three-month payments to authorized and authorized unauthorized workers”, Mr. Varney said
“We condemn the use of tear gas on peaceful citizens under this project who assembled on May 25, 2021, at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning to seek redress for their due and just benefits owed them. The act of the national police violated peaceful citizens constitutional right under article 17 of the Liberian constitution”, he furthered
He said his organization is also aware that the current budget 2020/2021 has a USD 1 million allocation under the Public Sector Investment Plan, precisely under the Youth Development and Social Protection Services for the Beach & waterways project. He added, it is noted that the government reserved the amount to restart the terminated Beaches and waterways project in the nearest future, a project that current workers of the project have not been paid their entire salary arrears resolution of this matter.
While calling on the government to redirect the USD 1 million allocations in the current budget to settle salary arrears owed to current workers, BudgIT also urged the government to seek for funding to keep the project running and other sustainable actions to protect the over 5,000 directly employed under the project.