The Forest Training Institute (FTI), located in Tubmanburg, Bomi County is reportedly straddling (on both sides of) the line between the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), a component of the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), and the Ministry of Education (MOE), making it difficult for the entity’s true identity, allegiances and affiliations to emerge. According to the National Consultant of the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) Project in Liberia, Dr. Wollor Topor, “At one point the FTI would run to the MOE when the going gets rough; and at other times, it would claim to be under the umbrella of the FDA.” Dr. Topor argued that a clear definition and direction was needed for the institute, during his presentation on “Strategic Documentation on Forest Education and Financial Options” last Wednesday at the FDA Compound in Whenin Town, outside Monrovia. The report on the way forward and transformation of the FTI was featured during the ITTO Project Validation workshop. Other topics discussed were legality framework strategy; administration and financial strategy; teaching approach; and strategy regarding forest and environmental organization.Dr. Topor also underscored the importance of the FTI in the production of middle level forest managers and called on the FDA management to pay special attention to the FTI in terms of instructional staff, among other things.Earlier in his opening statement, FDA Managing Director, Harrison S. Karnwea Sr., appealed for international assistance toward the sustainability of the ITTO as it strives to upgrade the status of the FTI.Mr. Karnwea thanked FDA partners including the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), UK-Aid and European Union (EU) for revamping the war-ravished central offices which he said has restored the lost image of the entity.For his part, FTI Executive Director, Jeremiah F. Karmo, recounted the relevance of the institute and prayed for more support to take it to the next level.The objective of the one day validation, according to Mr. Karmo, was to among other things establish a small-scale forest-based industry to specifically create business for forest-based products and to mobilize forest resources small nature-based enterprise, as well. Participants were drawn from various sectors including FDA senior staff, representatives from the academia, the FTI Board, and donor partners.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf broke down in tears yesterday at the funeral of Dr. Edward McClain Jr., who served as Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and Chief of Staff. He was also a long-time personal friend and confidant of the President. Dr. McClain died on Saturday, July 23, at the Wilgers Life Hospital in Lynwood, Pretoria, South Africa, following a period of illness.Fighting back tears, President Sirleaf described Dr. McClain as a dedicated, humble, selfless, efficient and loyal public servant to his country and people.She said her relationship with Dr. McClain was extraordinary because they worked together for more than 18 years in the interest of the Liberian people, with Dr. McClain instrumental to her rise to the presidency.“We worked together until the 1977 election separated us, and we later met in Abidjan. He devoted his time to work along with me in serving the people of Liberia and he showed a great sense of dedication as a servant when we returned to Liberia in 2003, which resulted to my success in 2006 when I took over as President of this nation,” she said, still in tears. President Sirleaf said their relationship grew effectively and further when Dr. McClain kept his promise and commitment by putting his country first. She lauded Dr. McClain for his contribution because he was one minister of government for whom no task or job was too big or small. Dr. McClain ignored his major health problems, she said, when he should have placed more focus on himself and did everything to work for his country and people.“We can never have someone like you Bobbin,” President Sirleaf said, sobbing, “We can never match what you represented as a true friend… surpassed by your loyalty, selflessness, dedication, and as a humble public servant.“I deeply regret your unexpected departure, which came too soon, and left to go and rest. Bobby I wish you a peaceful journey, and may your soul rest in peace.”Giving the funeral discourse under the Theme: ‘My Duty While in the Valley’ from Job 1:6-22, Rev. Charles Diggs said that Dr. McClain lived an exemplary life that impacted society, friends and family.“I urge those in higher positions to follow the example of Dr. McClain and serve your country to the end,” Rev. Diggs said. “McClain’s life was a clear picture of a humble servant, because at times he had problems with his boss, President Sirleaf, but it was never seen in the press, but was handled properly because of his diligent service to his country.” Rev. Diggs urged the family to take solace in the Lord, not to lose hope, but continue to represent the life that Dr. McClain lived, for his name to live on.The bereaved family expressed appreciation to the government of Liberia, as well as the President of Ivory Coast, who sent a representative to convey last respect to the fallen minister. The funeral brought together several government officials, members of the Diplomatic Corps, former officials of government and well-wishers, who paid glowing tributes to Dr. McClain’s memory at the Providence Baptist Church on Ashmun Street in Monrovia.The late Minister of State, Dr. Edward B. McClain, was interred at the Jake Melton Family Plot, in Caldwell. The Pierre matriarch was a Watts, who are close cousins of the Meltons. Dr. McClain was married into the Pierre family, most of whom are buried there.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Liberia’s biggest and most prestigious Christian drama competition, Treasure Hunt, ended with Grace and Glory Church walking away with L$44,550 as winner of the Hunt.Grace and Glory defeated Monrovia Christian Fellowship, last year’s 1st runners up, with a drama titled “Heritage,” which highlights the importance of teaching children their heritage and constantly reminding them not forget it.In his congratulatory remarks, Vision International Production founder and organize of the event, Cosme Pulano, said the organization’s doors remain open to the winner to ensure that their drama team is transformed into a movie production house.He added: “You deserve this year’s Treasure Hunt trophy. Your performance and hard work brought you this far. For the fact, since you guys started along with 16 other churches, your performance has been outstanding. “Realistically, the road this year was challenging, with hurdles and situations that could have derailed or plunged us into perpetual agony. Amid the odds, Jesus kept this boat afloat; and we have peacefully sailed closer to the harbor.“To our Treasure Hunt 2016 participants, we say that this year’s event would not have been a success without your hard work and participation. Many of you have understood that you are hidden talents, and you must ensure that this treasure is fully utilized before you leave this earth.” In their acceptance remarks, Grace and Glory church expressed gratitude to the host for the award.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Disaster recently struck the 68th National Annual Conference of the Africa Gospel League (AGL) Church in Lower Harlandsville Township outside Buchanan in Grand Bassa County following the electrocution of its electrician, Borbor Kangar.The incident occurred two days before the commencement of the conference at its headquarters in Lower Harlandsville Township. Kangar was killed while electrifying the venue in preparation for the conference when he accidentally came in contact with the live current, and subsequently dropped from the ladder.Despite the incident, the conference went ahead and brought together 49 district churches, from River Cess, Margibi, Montserrado and Grand Bassa counties, out of the 69 district churches.The delegates at the conference wept for the death of Kangar, described as “a hard working member of the church.”During an interview, District #1 Superintendent Reverend Paul R. Joe told the Daily Observer that the conference was aimed at assessing the achievements and challenges of the church and that funds generated during the conference will be used for the development of the church.He also disclosed that some of the funds generated will be directed at purchasing a parcel of land to erect a guesthouse.Rev. Joe, who preached the funeral discourse over the remains of the late Kangar last Saturday on the theme: “Who Shall Fight for Us Again?” from the book of Judges, told the bereaved family to take their burden to the Lord, who is able to fight their battles in times of trial, temptation and tribulation.The late Kangar was born in 1954 at the J.F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Monrovia, a family member said. At the age of 62, he leaves to mourn his loss his three wives, eight children, eight grandchildren, and a host of other relatives and friends.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Sen. Gueh with participants at the National Youth Legislative Policy Dialogue–Senate education committee chair vents anger, recommends 10- year imprisonmentRiver Cess County Senator Dallas A.V. Gueh said if he were the father of the 16-year-old 10th grade female student of the Soltiamon Christian School System (SCSS) who, it has been reported, was flogged by Solomon Joah, Jr., a teacher of SCSS, he (Senator Gueh) would have personally dealt with Mr. Joah, Jr., and perhaps flogged him as he did to the girl.Joah, or junior boy, as he is popularly known, serves as the dean of students. It is alleged that he single-handedly flogged the female student.According to Sen. Gueh, Joah’s attitude was not only gruesome but done intentionally in order to abuse the pupil, because he knows he is the first son of Reverend Solomon Joah, Sr.“His father is my former classmate and a personal friend, who many think is my brother,” Gueh said as he expressed his anger in session.Sen. Gueh, a former classroom teacher for 32 years, chairs the senate statutory committee on education in the 54th Legislature. He also served as district education officer and county chief education officer (CEO.)He said the senate committee will also recommend to authorities at the Ministry of Education a 10-year imprisonment for Joah, “because he physically abused a female student without justifiable reason.”Joah Jr., is the son of Reverend and Mother Solomon Joah, Sr., proprietors of SCSS. He has been accused of cruelly and physically assaulting a 16-year-old 10th grade female student recently. The girl has since been suffering from pains, especially in her groin.Gueh made the statement on Thursday, June 27, 2019, when he served as guest facilitator to the National Youth Legislative Policy Dialogue. The dialogue was organized and funded by NAYMOTE Partners for Democratic Development and held at the Legislative Information Service (LIS) at the Capitol Building in Monrovia.“It is unacceptable, gruesome, cruel and, moreover, how can a man, who claimed to have gotten his teacher’s training from the USA, be so wicked, as if he was never trained as a teacher?” Senator Gueh wondered.He added, “Nowadays, no one beats on students anymore — our education system subscribes to different punishment.”“Besides the MoE’s decision, of which we were informed that the Sotiamon teacher will be banned from teaching or working as an administrator in any school in the country, with the school being fined L$250,000 to be paid into government’s revenue, the school will also be responsible for the payment of medical and other damages. We will also recommend that he go to jail for 10 years,” Gueh declared.The dialogue is aimed at creating a platform for a predominantly youthful citizenry, to interact with representatives and senators of the 54th Legislature.Sen. Gueh spoke on the theme, “the Role and Responsibility of the Senate Education Committee and its Impact.”‘Nonsense’ systemBesides, venting his frustration over the unmerciful flogging of the 16-year-old female student, Sen. Gueh termed as ‘nonsense’ the educational sector, saying that a majority of the education reform Law of 2011, including the decentralization of school boards in all the counties, have been ignored, leading to about 70 percent of untrained teachers in the classrooms. This also includes the lack of issuing licenses to teachers, the free compulsory primary education and the US$5 million student loans.RecommendationsSen. Gueh said the Committee has formally recommended to the MoE that all ‘nursing schools,’ which are offering certificates, be shut down. The MoE, according to the recommendation, must personally issue licenses to teachers and supervise and create a standard or ban schools’ graduations.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Natural gas explosion– preparations afoot to construct apparatus to trap gasJust over two weeks after an underground gas pocket exploded aback a residence in Diamond, East Bank Demerara, the intense cleaning-up exercise is still ongoing, while officials at the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) are making preparations for the construction of an apparatus to cap the methane gas that was detected.“If everything goes according to plan, then we could be looking at perhaps another week or so to make sure that the site is clear enough for us to get access to do the operational works that were intended. But you know the weather has to be also cooperative,” Commissioner of GGMC, Newell Dennison told Guyana Times on Sunday. He explained that the Commission will have to await the completion of the clean-up exercise for an assessment to be done before work can commence on the construction of the contraption apparatus.“It is intended that we will construct an apparatus, we will construct the conductorGGMC Commissioner Newell Dennisoncasings that we would want to put into the vent; those things will have to be constructed. But I wouldn’t want to preempt what it is exactly that would have to be done because there might be modifications of what is intended and what we observe, after the full clean-up and actually get a good look at the orifice that has been presented to us,” Dennison said.Previously, GGMC’s Senior Petroleum Technologist, Mitchell Prince, had explained in a briefing with the Ministry of the Presidency that the plan is to run two sizes of casings into the orifice to seal it off. He noted that they are going to be using an 18-inch casing on the outside and a four-inch diameter casing on the inside, then seal around it with concrete and build a valve at the top.Asked whether the apparatus can be constructed beforehand, Dennison related that, “In part, it can be constructed but it is better that see what we’re working with first. It is something that can be done concurrently. Once we see what the orifice has presented to us, then we can make some assumptions to the dimensions. So while actual work on the vent is being done, construction of the apparatus can be ongoing at the same time so it doesn’t have to be one and then the other.”The GGMC Commissioner noted that the cleaning exercise is expected to wrap up in a week’s time while the construction and installation of the apparatus will take another two to three weeks to be completed.Questioned about the financing of these works, Commissioner Dennison disclosed that the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) and the Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) has made certain materials available to be used for the construction of the apparatus, while GGMC will be making provisions for the additional works. He opted not to preempt the cost, saying that “it might be a moving target.”At about 18:00h on June 15, 2018, construction workers were drilling a well at Lot 1200 Section A Block X, Great Diamond, residence (between Sixth and Fifth Avenue) when they hit a natural gas pocket causing an immediate explosion, which caused an eruption which lasted the entire night, with fluctuating eruptions as high as 30 feet, of various substances.Local stakeholder agencies had since come together to monitor the situation and tests conducted found traces of methane gas at the location.
A mason was on Tuesday remanded by Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan after he was reportedly found with 393 grams of cannabis in his possession.Shabeer Mohammed, 37, of Port Kaituma, North West District (NWD) and Meadow Brook Gardens, Georgetown, denied that he had the drugs in his possession on June 21 at Four Miles, Port Kaituma.His attorney, Tiffany Jeffrey told the Court that the drug was found 50 feet away from her client in bushes while her client was travelling in a motor car.Police Prosecutor Gordon Mansfield objected to this and revealed that the car in which the father of one was travelling was stopped by Police, and he exited the vehicle and attempted to sneakily hide the drugs in a clump of bushes at the corner of the roadway.When a rank who noticed him made checks, two black plastic bags with the drug was found and as such, he was arrested.He reportedly told ranks at the Police Station that “the lady want weed, so I went up the road for the stash”.As such, he was remanded to prison. The case will continue on August 6, 2018 at the Matthews Ridge Magistrate’s Court.
…despite Opposition’s criticisms of Govt’s unpreparednessSince the discovery of oil and gas in Guyana, there has been much debate and discussion surrounding the slow pace at which Government is looking to implement policies to guide how revenues are spent from this new-found natural resource.But Business Minister Dominic Gaskin feels Government has been doing its best to prepare for this sector. As such, he told a recent forum that he is pleased with the progress the coalition has made but said it is now left up to Guyanese to make use of the opportunities available in the sector.“Everything may not be perfect, and I don’t think anyone is saying that it is, I am certainly not saying that everything is perfect, but what I am saying is, that I’m satisfied with the progress that has been made in the petroleum sector since the announcement of the discoveries in 2015 and to date.”The Minister said he is also satisfied that some Guyanese are already benefiting from the sector and many more Guyanese will most likely benefit once oil production begins in 2020.“I’m also satisfied that our Government is doing everything it can to ensure that Guyanese, not just now but for generations to come will benefit from Guyana’s oil,” he stated.According to Gaskin, with the circulation of oil money in Guyana through local procurement, local employment, and through local spending by expatriate employees, contractors, consultants and other professionals, Guyana’s economy will experience significant growth.“Should we try and maximise the benefits that Guyanese will enjoy from oil andBusiness Minister Dominic Gaskingas? Of course! There is more than one way to achieve this…of course, there is,” he added, noting that while some people are questioning Government’s approach, others and taking advantage of the opportunities.However, he said it is unfortunate that many are not, because they are caught up and distracted by the negative rhetoric coming from a handful of what he described as self-appointed experts, many of whom are quietly positioning themselves to benefit from the industry.“Some of them want to get there first because little competition is possible and that therefore happen to see Guyanese disenchanted with the prospect of oil, he explained adding that many Guyanese still live below the poverty line and they too must benefit from the oil resources.“…They (the poor) are looking forward to oil production. They are depending on Government to make the right decisions for their future and their children’s future. I want to assure you all that this is what our Government will do and we will ensure that every Guyanese benefit,” he stated.He added that the prospect of oil production has created quite a buzz in Guyana as well as outside of Guyana, noting that he believes “it’s generally a good thing for us, in fact, the actual news is extremely positive, the discovery so far and the outfield development, the development of the production vessel and the shore-based activity, it’s all very good news for Guyana and we need to turn it into positive outcomes.UnpreparednessWith just two years to go before first oil, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has said Government has not made any substantial plans for the oil sector. Jagdeo has urged the coalition to formulate a national oil spill policy as a priority, and said the other key legislations are still not in place.“I’m saying to you, if we don’t address these critical issues, if we don’t address the rest of the economy, Guyana will be worst off in the next decade than we are now. You read the experience of many of those countries. Check the assessment of Chad and Nigeria and Venezuela and all those places. And just hear where they are today,” Jagdeo urged at one of his press conferences. Further, Jagdeo said, “They were supposed to get the Sovereign Wealth Fund to protect our interest and they failed on that. They failed on the Petroleum Commission. They failed on local content. It’s the same pattern. They’re failing to address this issue in a manner that protect Guyana.”However, Jagdeo made it clear to reporters that his position on the state of preparedness for the new industry was at variance to what is contained in the Government publication. “We still haven’t gotten the Petroleum Commission, no local content legislation, no Sovereign Wealth Fund, no decision on whether they will auction the blocks… but all the measures are in place for 2020,” he said.Some stakeholders and sections of the society in Guyana have said that preparations for first oil should have been at a more advanced stage since the country is less than two years away from production. Government has however maintained that all systems will be in place in time for 2020.
Police Constable Cornell Paul of Lot 2434 Tuschen Housing Scheme, East Bank Essequibo was on Monday arraigned before Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan on a simple larceny charge alleging that on February 3, 2018, he stole a .38 special revolver valued at $165,000; a special revolver holster valued at $60,000, and six rounds of .38 ammunition valued at $40,750; all to a total value of $275,750, the property of the Guyana Police Force.The 21-year-old, who is attached to the Brickdam Police Station’s Impact Base,Police Constable Cornell Paul leaving court on Mondaydenied the charge; and in a bail application, his legal counsel, Attorney-at-law Paul Fung-A-Fat, said his client, who was the driver of the Impact Base vehicle on February 3, 2018, had gone to the vehicle which was parked in the compound of the Brickdam Police Station, but had reportedly forgotten the keys to the vehicle at his desk. He allegedly left the firearm on the vehicle and went back to the office to uplift the keys; and on returning, he noticed that the firearm was missing.Fung-A-Fat said his client then went to the officer in charge at the time and informed her of what had transpired. The lawyer added that his client never left the station compound after reporting the loss of the firearm; and neither the gun, holster, or any of the missing rounds was ever found.Police prosecutor Neville Jeffers had no objection to Paul being placed on bail, and same was set at $150,000. As a condition for bail, Paul was ordered to report to the Brickdam Police Station on a weekly basis until completion of the matter.The Chief Magistrate had placed Paul on $200,000 bail, but he informed the court that he could not accumulate that sum, thus the bail was reduced to $150,000. The case will continue on August 24.
IICA celebrates 43 years in GuyanaAs the celebrations of Agriculture Month continue, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) on Thursday celebrated 43 years of existence in Guyana.Agro-processors at the IICA’s open day at its Brickdam officeThe organisation held an open day at its headquarters at Lot 8 Brickdam, Georgetown to give the public insight about its work.Speaking at the event, Agriculture Minister Noel Holder expressed gratitude to the organisation for the much-needed assistance the Ministry has received over the years. He highlighted that the IICA was one of the oldest institutions found in Guyana (it is older than United Nations Guyana).Holder added that the IICA has assisted in training of staff, the production of sheep, and setting up the services of the Guyana Marketing Association among many other services provided. Additionally, Holder mentioned that the IICA would continue to play a major role in the agriculture sector in the future.Earlier, IICA Representative Wilmot Garnett highlighted the work the institution has been doing in Guyana. Garnett explained that over the years the institution has strived to modernise the agriculture sector in Guyana through innovation and the introduction of new varieties of crops.He added that the institution has worked with the Mexican Government to provide scholarships for Guyanese to study biotechnology to support mainly the coconut industry.While the IICA is expecting the Guyana Food Safety Bill to be passed, it seeks to build wealth in rural communities.Even though the IICA has lost the fish market to the United States of America, the new medium-term plan 2018-2022 seeks to develop family farming since 70 per cent of farming and agriculture in Guyana is family operated.The symbolic planting of trees and cutting of cake were done by the Agriculture Minister and Minister within the Health Ministry, Dr Karen Cummings, at the IICA open day, where a variety of local agricultural products from various agro-processors were on sale. Students of the Carmel Secondary School were also present at the IICA open day.The IICA has been operational in Guyana since 1975. The international organisation supports the efforts of its Member States to achieve agricultural development and rural well-being. The institution is fully focused on making agriculture competitive and sustainable in the Americas. The IICA has been instrumental, along with the Agriculture Ministry, in the introduction of the model dairy farm at the St Stanislaus College Farm, and presently represents 15 organisations. Two cross-cutting issues that have been identified as essential components for the IICA’s future work are gender and youth, and innovation and technology.