Home Economy As BSE Calls For Organization Review: NTA Outlines Multiple Challenges

As BSE Calls For Organization Review: NTA Outlines Multiple Challenges

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By Linda Gbartie

MONROVIA: It can be recalled that the Bureau of State Enterprises (BSE) recommended that an organizational review be conducted at the National Transit Authority (NTA), as a first step to establish the entity management’s internal control weakness.

The call was made in the second edition of the Annual Aggregate Performance Report of the Bureau of State Enterprises (BSE) released on Tuesday, May 28, 2024 at the Mamba Point Hotel.

The BSE, in its report, believes that the NTA has the potential to generate the revenue required to finance its operations, maintain and expand its fleet of buses but the Government of Liberia is currently subsidizing its salaries due to inability to raise the needed revenue to pay staffs.

However, the Managing Director of the NTA, Mr. Edmund Forh, on Tuesday, June 4, 2024, appeared before the Plenary of the House of Representatives to provide information regarding the status of the NTA.

Mr. Forh’s appearance came about after he was summoned by the Plenary of the House of Representatives which is the highest decision-making body.

The Plenary’s decision was reached during the 5th day sitting of the 2nd quarter of the 1st session of the House of Representatives, on Thursday, May 30, 2024, based on a communication from Montserrado County District #14 Representative, Kerkula Muka Kamara.

According to a release from the House Press and Public Affairs, Representative Kamara raised concerns regarding the recent government-imposed restrictions on motorcyclists, highlighting the inconvenience the measures have caused Liberians.

Rep. Kamara emphasized that it was important for Mr. Forh to provide explanation on the status of the Transits Authority and efforts in delivering affordable and accessible transport services to the citizens.

The NTA Managing Director, during his appearance before the House of Representatives told Lawmakers that he took over the Transit Authority in “rooms” as there were no conducive offices.

Mr. Forh explained that he met only 39 buses at the Transit Authority and only five of the buses were in manageable condition. He said 29 of the buses were broken down or inoperable.

According to him, due to the prevailing situation, his management Team decided to employ some strategies to improve financial management procedures that could enable it to continue running the five buses that they met in good conditions by generate revenue and cover its current liabilities.

“So, the five buses we kept them on the most practical route that will bring us some revenues to handle some of those pressing issues that we have on hand. Today, we maintain the five buses. We added additional three from the 29 that were broken down by repairing them.

According to him, the major problem is that the parts for the buses are not found on the local market.

He disclosed that in the NTA budget, US$300,000 was placed there to secure parts for the buses.

Mr. Forh indicated that prior to him taking over the NTA, he was the focus person on the transition team for the cluster, as such, during the transitional period his concern was drew to the problem for which all of the NTA buses were parked.

“And so, I told the mechanist to provide detail concerning actual cost of the parts of the 29 buses and having them repaired,” he explained.

He indicated that total amount was US$652.096; by then I already talked about US$300,000 so the budget came with US$300,000,” he added.

He continued: “So we tried to solicit support from companies to get the parts and we needed original parts from Tata India and so, West Coast Logistics and Investment company was the only company that had link with Tata India, and so we wrote the Public Procurement and Concessions Commission (PPCC) to allow us a single source and PPCC agreed.

We went through the other formalities through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning that wrote the vendor just last week, assuring them that when the parts are brought to the country, they will receive their money, so by Thursday, this week the vendor will be going to India and we asked that he take along our mechanist so that we can have the original parts that will allow us to put additional 15 of the 26 buses that are down in operation.”

The NTA boss maintained that of the three buses they repaired, they actually got two of them ready and wanted to do a major body work including spraying them before putting them on the road but due to the emergency from the regulations on the motorcyclists and the streets that can be filled with passengers, so I authorized the Operations Department to put the three buses out and since then, they don’t have the time to do any body work because the three buses are presently running.

He mentioned that the Transit Authority has 8 buses in term of statues. “We have 4 running in Nimba and 4 around Monrovia. Why Nimba”, he asked: “Because we cannot generate revenue sufficiently to take care of operational cost in Monrovia; our most lubricate route is Nimba so, we use Nimba to take care of our operational expenses,” he responded to his own question.

“We inherited an institution which administrative building was burnt to the ground and it is still like that as we speak. I am working from a garage. My Deputy and I have our offices in the back of garage and so, that is the condition we have at NTA and gradually we are picking up from the depth of the problem that we met to where we think we can move the institution to,” he concluded.

Meanwhile, the BSE report indicated that based on the organizational review and what the situational audit will establish, the necessary intervention should be made to correct the issues and strengthen the management and operations of the Transit Authority.

The NTA was established in 2009 following the resuscitation of Liberia’s transit system in 2007 to provide affordable, convenient, and reliable mass services for citizens throughout the length and breadth of Liberia.

BSE emphasized that the Transit Authority was not just created to facilitate the safe movement of people and goods within and out of the country at affordable cost but also to support national development through poverty reduction, job creation, and stimulating domestic trade and commerce.

The report stated that the NTA was created with the expectation that it would grow into a viable and sustainable public transport outlet for the people of Liberia as well as to establish subsidiaries in other parts of Liberia and encourage the private participation of other transport companies to promote an efficient and effective mass transit system in the Country.

Additionally, the BSE stated that the provision of very effective and efficient public transport by the NTA continues to be elusive as such it has over the years received several buses through donations from friendly governments, but the maintenance of the fleet of buses has been a nightmare for the entity.

“The entity capital deficiency to serve and maintain its fleet of buses has been underpinned by allegations of mismanagement and corruption. As a result of its unsound financial performance, the NTA is not effectively providing the desired transport services for Liberians, as well as the social and economic returns,” the report stated.

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