Despite his early assurance to Liberians that his administration will not allow to see Liberians sit as spectators in their own country, but rather provide them with the opportunity to get involve in the building of their country, this is said to be to the contrary, as Liberian contractors are reportedly finding it very difficult to be awarded contracts by the CDC-led Government.
In one of his public statements in favor of Liberians, President Weah repeatedly said, “As we open our doors to all foreign direct investments, we will not permit Liberian-owned businesses to be marginalized. We cannot remain spectators in our own economy
According to investigation, many of the presidential projects are been given out to Lebanese owned construction companies such as the Bitta Construction Company owned by Mohammed Bitta, a personal friend of the President, the SFF Construction Company owned Shakie Fawaz, and several Lebanese owned companies have supersede Liberian owned construction companies based upon selection being allegedly made by the Liberian Government.
GNN investigation has uncovered that Lebanese national Mohamad Bittar was given the contract for the construction of the 14 Military Hospital and the Doe Community road contract, while another Lebanese National, Ali Kobiessi of Building Materials Center (BMC) was also contracted to revamp the VIP terminal at the RIA, according to a local daily, even though this information was denied by the RIA.
According to investigation, both Bittar and Ali of BMC are also said to be involved in construction of several of President Weah’s private properties including the reconstruction of the 9th Street property, the Jamaica Lodge Resort, and what is believed to be his dream house near the Baptist Seminary on the Roberts field highway.
A local daily has also reported that information received from the PPCC, the Bittar Construction Company was also awarded a contract for the supply of building materials worth US$2,977,230.31 for the construction of the 14 Military Hospital. the PPCC noted that the Ministry of Defense which requested ‘No Objection to Bittar Construction Company for the supply of building materials, the Ministry assured the PPCC that construction works would be carried out by the Engineering battalion of the Armed Forces of Liberia.
During Sirleaf administration, the government came under fire for single sourcing Sinkor Streets road contract including all avenues to West Africa Enterprise, a company owned by Lebanese national, Shawki Fawaz.
Shawki Fawaz also served as CEO of SSF construction company which was also awarded several road construction projects including the construction of Gbarpolu road and asphalt pavement on various roads in and around Monrovia.
Analysis shows that SSF Entrepreneur Inc. 17 contracts constituting 32.69% of the total number of projects awarded during Madam Sirleaf’s era based on sole source procurement method amounting to US$48,576,700.28. The second contractor, CHICO received eight (8) contracts constituting 15.38% of the total number of projects awarded on a sole source basis amounting to US$17,054,714.79.
Some frustrated Liberian engineers and owners of construction companies who spoke to the GNN complained how the CDC-led Government is strangulating them financially, despite of their professional expertise as compared to their fellow Lebanese counterparts.
Efforts to contact the Minister of Public Works Mobutu Nyanpen to ascertain the facts regarding them being sidelined in place of their Lebanese counterparts.