Written by Nathaniel McClain-0886581624
Wednesday, 13 February 2013 00:30
Minister of Defense, Brownie Samukai, has blamed the sufferings of members of the Armed Forces of Liberia on the failure of Dyncorp and the U.S Government to cooperate with the Liberian authority to provide comfortable housing facilities for AFL personnel.
Minister Samukai said Dycorp and the US Government failed to cooperate with the Liberian authority to avoid petitioning rooms and apartments at the Edward Biyan Kessely Barracks and other military barracks in the country for personnel of the new AFL.
According to him, in 2006, the Liberian Government advised the United States sponsored company- Dyncorp not to petition buildings at military barracks because they were intended for soldiers and their families but the company failed to adhere to the advice.
He noted that because the Liberian Government did not have the funds to maintain the buildings, Dyncorp reduced all the buildings and up to present AFL personnel find themselves two or three into one room.
“The barracks that you are in currently, the Edward Biyan Kessely, was built for each soldier having an apartment and it was built so that each of you can be able to live there with your family,” the Defense Minister told AFL personnel last Friday at the Monrovia City Hall during part of activities marking the 56th Anniversary of the Armed Forces Day Celebrations held Monday, February 11th.
He told the gathering that when the government decided to provide the soldiers dry ration as part of the AFL benefits for services rendered to the country, the U.S Government opposed the idea and said the Liberian Government should give each soldier US10 or US$ 15 to replace the dry ration.
Minister Samukai said the government opposed providing the money and decided to give the soldiers the dry ration (a bag) of rice each every month for the up-keep of the soldiers and families noting, “This is what the Liberian Government can afford”.
He also said: “it is unfair for the U.S to accuse the Liberian Government of an unfair treatment when the Government of Liberia is exerting every effort to correct Dyncorp’s wrong.”
The latest development, Minister Samukai said, came when some reports from U.S blamed the Defense Ministry officials including him for the woes and sufferings of soldiers, majority of whom have reportedly left the army as a result of the “unbearable situation”.
The Defense Minister noted that at Camp Ware, another barracks, the U.S Government spent US16 million to buy canopies despite another advice by the Liberian Defense officials that the money be used for the construction of more barracks for the soldiers.
“They used the money for Camp Ware. When we told them take the money and use it to build the barracks, they took US16 million and bought canopies,” he claimed.
Minister Samukai further said today the U.S is accusing the Liberian Government of not having a place for the soldiers and families to stay; this, he described as, “unfortunate”.
He noted that the U.S Government has declined to comment further on the issue having been approached on the construction of Camp Tubman Barracks in Bong County.