By Mark N. Mengonfia
Lawmakers and Electorates is a special column that highlights the workings of lawmakers and how they are partnering with their employers [electorates] in moving their respective districts forward. It focuses on lawmakers’ activities in session, out of session and in their districts. It looks at how the ‘eyes’ of the people are properly representing the interest of those who employed them.
The maiden edition of ‘Lawmakers and Electorates is zooming in the deplorable road conditions, low budgetary allotments and gradual extermination of the once celebrated Jackson Fiah Doe Regional Referral Hospital in Tappita, Lower Nimba County in Electoral district six.
Article one of the 1986 Liberian Constitution is clear and must be respected by all when it comes to the governance of the state. If you have forgotten, this aspect of our law says ‘all power is inherent in the power.
Based on this unique law, it is clear that everyone cannot leave their homes and gather in one building, the Liberian Constitution to make laws and representation at the same time. With this in mind, Liberians once every six years gather in their numbers to elect their sons and daughters who will lead or represent respective electoral district at the National Legislature.
Even if the constitution had not said it, it is impossible for every citizen to converge at a particular place weekly to discuss developmental issues, deliberate on the National Budget, talk about health matter, source donor supports for the proper functioning of the state.
No other person could best explain how citizens of that district are faced with bad road condition which has led to partly abandonment of Jackson F. Doe Hospital apart from the man they (Citizens) elected as their eyes at the House of Representatives.
In Monrovia, our microphone zoomed in Nimba County District six Lawmaker, Representative Dorwohn Twain Gleekiato tell us how his district is doing since his ascendancy to the House of Representatives as the ‘eye’ of his people.
He lamented the bad state of the JFD Hospital due to low budgetary allocation and bad road condition which he said has hindered the smooth operations of the Hospital in that part of Liberia.
When the Hospital was officially dedicated and open to the public during the regime of former Liberian President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, it attracted many due to its location, the Liberia-China bilateral agreement and the trained medical personnel as well as the state-of-the-art medical equipment at the hospital.
However, the admiration from the public has deteriorated over the years and the place has been reduced to just doing checkup and medications are bought outside according to Rep. Gleekia.
“The hospital needs US$10million to smoothly operate, that is to have all what they need annually” the Nimba Lawmaker said with a sad continence of face.
Looking directly in my face, the Nimba lawmaker indicated that the status of the Hospital is challenging adding “the status in general is not good.”
He said the budgetary allocation to that hospital has been reduced to US$3.1 Million allotment the lawmaker said that central government only provides a little over US$1million, amount he said is very little to operate such a hospital at the standard expected.
The quality of services has been reduced as people prefer going to the drug stores, clinics because of the lack of drugs according to the Lawmaker.
Rep. Gleekia said the situation has reachd a point that when people visit the hospital and conduct their check up, they are given slips to buy drugs from outside, something the lawmaker said is not unique to JFD Hospital.
The Nimba lawmaker said, they as ‘eyes’ of the people make appropriations, but when it reach the executive, those appropriations are reduced and what is expected are not gotten by those needy institutions, something he decried.
The Nimba County lawmaker did not limit the poor state of the Hospital to the issue of money, but said that bad road conditions, lack of electricity are some of the factors that is causing the declination of the Hospital that was built with millions of dollars.
Another thing the lawmaker stressed is that as big as the JFD Hospital is, it does not have Board members “this, too, has an impact. My citizens have complained about it and it came to our attention as Nimba legislative caucus and we are working to see how that can be addressed.”
Responding, Representative Gleekia said “we have been advocating for the road to be connected, making sure that the budget of the Hospital is increase to serve the best needs.”
According to the Nimba lawmaker who went at the Liberian legislature on the ticket of the People’s Unification Party (PUP), he and his colleagues at that branch of the Liberian Government have been pulling the right strains to ensure that the right things are put into place so that they do not end up on the negative side of history.
He said as part of the means, he and other members of that legislative body invited Liberia’s Minister for Public Works to explain to them how roads leading to Tappita and other parts of the region are doing.
Through their intervention, the Ministry of Public Works and team along with few members of the House of Representatives have gone for inspection according to the Nimba Lawmaker.
“Blissfully, my advocacy has made the Public Minister to take his team to do some assessment on that road. The presence of the Public Works Minister and his team will give hope to our people.”
The lawmaker is hopefully hoping that something is done to rewrite the soon to be bad lines in the history of the ‘historical’ hospital.
With all of these challenges, are there any hope in sight anytime soon or is it gradually leading to the conclusion of a great history that should have been told should the hospital caters to health needs of citizens in that part of Liberia?
Or is this government which came to power due to the popular votes of ordinary citizens wants to be on the bad side of history by allowing the total collapse of a health facility of that region? Too many questions.
About the Author: Mark N. Mengonfia is a student of Mass Communications at the African Methodist Episcopal University (AMEU) and is currently serving as the Secretary General of the Reporters Association of Liberia. He can be contacted on the following: +231(0) 776105060/+231(0)888105060 firstname.lastname@example.org
Alphonso has been in the profession for over twenty years. He has worked for many international media outlets including: West Africa Magazine, Africa Week Magazine, African Observer and did occasional reporting for CNN, BBC World Service, Sunday Times, NPR, Radio Deutchewells, Radio Netherlands. He is the current correspondent for Reuters. Mr. Toweh holds first MA with honors in International Relations and a candidate for second master in International Peace studies and Conflict Resolution.