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Friday, June 14, 2024

FAHNGON REPORTS MODERN DAY SLAVERY UNDER HIS PREDECESSOR AT LBS

Date:

MONROVIA: Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS) Director General, Eugene Lami Fahngon, has reported what he termed modern day slavery allegedly perpetrated by the administration of his predecessor, Madam Estelle Liberty-Kemoh.

Director General Fahngon’s assertions are in reaction to recent comments attributed to  Messrs. Jallah Grayfield and Isaac Garyeazon Redd, two members of the LBS past administration.

In separate Facebook posts, the pair claimed the Fahngon-led management team at LBS allegedly told lies in revealing the state of affairs at State Radio prior to the new administration taking over.

Grayfield wrote that contrary to news circulating that the Liberty-Kemoh administration left LBS bankrupt, the past administration actually left several unnamed assets including three functional vehicles, and over US$100,000 in the entity’s coffers,  to which Fahngon acquiesced, but argued that there were administrative malpractices including huge liabilities left behind by his predecessor and her team that offset whatever they might have done good while serving as managers of the public broadcaster.

“You owe more than you left,” Fahngon told members of the Liberty-Kemoh administration.

In a news conference broadcast live by State Radio Wednesday,  Fahngon, who among others disclosed that several staff served at the Liberia Broadcasting System for years without being paid a dime, stated that he was bringing to light the kind of modern day slavery that occurred at the LBS allegedly on the watch of the immediate past administration.

Under the Liberty Kemoh-led leadership, Director General Fahngon further alleged that staffers, who are professionals, lacked health insurance and essential gadgets needed to enhance their work, while others complained of being replaced by members of the senior management team for foreign trips.

“Whenever it was time to go to UN General Assembly, or on a foreign trip, the big people went,” said Fahngon, who added amid applause that on his watch, LBS staff and not members of the top management team will make foreign trips that are in line with their job description.

He added, “Workers are currently choosing insurance companies of their choice and by the first week next month, they will all be with health insurance as workers of State Radio.

He disclosed that since he and other members of the current LBS administration took over, they have contracted the services of 11 individuals the past LBS administration had serving the public broadcaster but were given no incentive for over two years.

He named Jeremiah David Chea, as one of those who served the LBS for years without receiving compensation, saying; “for over two years, this young man served his country without a dime as a volunteer.”

Fahngon continued: “He’s not alone. All of the people I put on this sheet, eleven of them worked here for over two years; they gave their sweat to their country – they paid their own way to come here, paid their own way to go back. But they never paid them. They never gave them anything. But they continued to work until the day I got here. What was I supposed to do? Continue the modern day slavery or end it? I ended it. I had to contract them.”

The LBS new boss added that even worse, the Sound Language reporter at the Liberia National Television (LNTV) served the state-run LBS for almost three years on the watch of the Liberty-Kemoh administration, but was never paid.

However, Fahngon disclosed that on a contractual basis, his administration has now hired the Sound Language reporter, who due to his job description he described as one of the rarest kind in the country.

Fahngon: “I asked him what led you to do this? He said he loves his country. He’s being paid [now] but it hurts me though that he had to suffer for three years for people who call themselves educated people to realize that he was one of a kind – that his profession was rare. How can you not [have] captured such a man?”

“Today, our people you see on television and [those you hear] on radio, some of them, in fact most of them, I had to contract them to pay them. [Do] you know why? Because they were all volunteers, helping a system to work and nobody had time,” lamented Fahngon, who emphasized that his greatest achievement at the public broadcaster would be to ensure workers at LBS are happy and paid a wage they deserve and not be treated the way they were treated in the past.

Fahngon revealed that he and his team inherited huge financial liabilities left behind by the Liberty-Kemoh administration.

He stated that he even doubts the US$106,512 figure disclosed by the institution’s Comptroller as being the total liabilities incurred by the past leadership, inferring that from legitimate claims being made by other vendors, the liabilities are by far extravagant.

For tissues alone, Fahngon reported that the past administration incurred a debt of US$9,000, when government’s allotment for toiletries; soap, tissues, detergents combined is just US$5,000.

Unlike his predecessor’s leadership, Fahngon noted that on his watch, LBS is yet to owe any debt – “We don’t owe anybody,” he stated.

In response to Grayfield’s assertions, Fahngon outlined his leadership’s achievements over a period of less than two months, indicating that although the last administration claims to have left in LBS’ coffers US$100,000, the current administration according to him, now has more than such amount and has done more than what was expected of it, even without receiving money from the Government or from any of the partners the LBS Management is expected to get money from.

“When we came here, there were rotten office furniture for the senior staff… we’ve changed all of them to state of the art, [with] over 10,000 spent. We met no office phones or communications… We met no utility service vehicles,” said Fahngon, who disclosed that out of ten vehicles, seven of which were dilapidated, his leadership now has six vehicles functional and operational.

“Six out of ten vehicles are fully functional. I guarantee you, by next week the pickup will be ready,” he added .

“As a matter of fact, the car they condemned that had no tires, no engine, no seats, nothing on it – referred to as the OB van, nobody can make it up if they don’t tell you that it is the OB van, said Fahngon, pointing to a fleet of vehicles including several 4-Runner jeeps and a 32-seater bus.

“We met no office phones… we [now] have inter-office communications via telephone, and all of our offices, as far as departments are concerned, are equipped with phones.”

“We are not in competition. So what we can say, it’s under two months, we started maintaining this place from the forest they had here, to sucking feces that were entering our offices. Thanks to Mo Ali and his team. They brought in a truck that takes 12,800 liters of solid waste, and that truck made five trips. That’s how much sh*t came out of this place,” intoned Fahngon, who disclosed that he said this against the advice of his friends.

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