Officers of the Liberian National Police (LNP) will in the next couple of days breathe a sigh of relief as Ecobank has finally agreed to pay the officers three months’ salary arrears following weeks of negotiation with the police hierarchy in Monrovia.Police Director Chris Massaquoi made the disclosure of the ‘good news’ at a press conference held at the LNP headquarters on Capitol Hill in Monrovia yesterday.The weeks of negotiations with Ecobank led to the delay in the disbursement of the 50% Liberian dollar component to officers, according to the LNP.“The Administration met with the management of Ecobank and based on the sensitivity of this matter, Ecobank finally agreed to open a Liberian account for the LNP in three days. And as we speak, the LNP payroll has been signed today, July 20, and forwarded to Ecobank,” Director Massaquoi said.He said all officers will begin receiving the Liberian dollar component from Ecobank, thus alleviating the hardship experienced over the last two months and bringing the matter to a close.“In the second month of the fourth quarter (May) of the fiscal year of 2015/2016, the LNP submitted a 100% USD payroll to the Ministry of Finance to begin the payment of officers’ May 2016 salaries, but without prior notice, the Ministry rejected the LNP payroll and advised the LNP that the payroll submitted earlier be re-submitted with 50% in United States dollars and 50% in Liberian dollars,” Director Massaquoi explained.He said after two weeks of negotiations, the Ministry again advised that the payroll must be re-submitted with 50% in USD and 50% in Liberian dollars in categories, on grounds that the Government of Liberia was not in the position to pay 100% in US dollars into the accounts of officers as was done in the past.Again he said, the LNP prepared and re-submitted two separate payrolls, which took over three days to complete. Vouchers were being processed at the Finance Ministry, and the LNP continued its negotiations with the management of Ecobank on the way forward for the possible opening of LRD accounts for all officers, since indeed the bank already had USD accounts for them.“Based upon the bank’s position that they could not open LRD salary accounts for the officers and having deposited the May 50% GOL checks issued by the MFDP, the LNP began exploring alternative means of payment, and finally decided to make payments through checks against theLiberian dollar account, while the 50% USD was being credited to the officers’ USD salary accounts,” he said.But as we speak, he said, significant numbers of officers have received 50% of their LRD salary in checks and the process will soon be completed for the month of May, 2016.He said all efforts exerted by the LNP Administration earlier to ensure that the bank open the LRD accounts for the officers did not materialize. He said owing to the fact that the LNP maintained that it did not have LRD accounts for its officers, the LNP Administration met with the Ecobank management to open the officers’ LRD accounts. At that meeting in May, the Ecobank refused to oblige on the grounds that the fiscal measures by the Ministry of Finance were temporary and could cause the bank additional expense to have accounts maintained.He said, “Given the strength of the LNP, the nationwide deployment and the need to ensure that they remain at their various posts, the administration initiated a negotiation with the Finance Ministry to see the need to avoid making payments through other means, and realized that any other option would cause a delay in their salary payment.”He said prior to the issuance of these checks, the LNP administration, considering the difficulties in writing individual checks for more than six thousand officers, encouraged all officers to open individual LRD accounts at either Ecobank, LBDI or IB for the possible remittance of their salaries against the ratio (30:70) issued by the MFDP for June 2016, wherein 30% USD goes into the officers account while 70% LRD is to be credited to the anticipated accounts.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
(From left:) Kesselly and Lavelanet display a pack of country rice ready for exportIn its bid to help promote Liberian businesses locally and internationally, and to empower farmers throughout the country, the management of NOBEL Liberia recently formed a partnership with Fabrar Liberia Incorporated, exporters of the red Liberian country rice to the United States, according to a press release yesterday.Two Fabrar executives, Mrs. Jeanine Cooper, founder, and the Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Fabio E. Lavelanet, who met with the Chief Executive Officer of NOBEL Liberia, Mr. Jallah Kesselly, for the business deal, said they were excited to begin the exportation of the Liberian country rice, branded the “Lone Star Rice”, to the United States for supply to Liberians, other Africans, as well as Americans, and encouraging them to have a taste for Liberian home-produced rice.Mrs. Cooper said a 40-foot container of red Liberian country rice is expected to be exported to the United States through the management of NOBEL Liberia for Liberians in Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and other Liberian communities in the United States.For his part, the CEO of NOBEL Liberia, Mr. Kesselly, expressed appreciation to the management of Fabrar for the initiative to promote Liberia abroad by making the first attempt to export homemade Liberian rice for consumption by Liberians and others in the US. The slogan for the exercise is “Helping Liberia to rise again.”Also speaking, the CEO of Fabrar, Mr. Lavelanet, said every five bags of the Lone Star rice being shipped to the United States is the contribution to the livelihood of one farmer, and further noted that the shipment of 4,000 bags has contributed to the livelihood of 800 farm families.“Every bag purchased puts $3 in the hands of a farmer,” Mr. Lavelanet said.Observers believe the exportation of home-grown Liberian rice to the United States will help in the promotion of Liberia’s locally produced commodities, and will also dignify the work of Liberian farmers.Since its establishment, NOBEL Liberia has always made its support and services available to Liberian owned institutions by providing guidance and other means that will help Liberians sustain themselves and their families.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
The World Bank Group (WBG) in recent days celebrated its “Africa End Poverty.”The Bank emphasized the cardinal role of public policy in providing a level playing field for everyone in society to feel the impact of government. But how serious is Liberia in the fight to end poverty?Actually, we in Liberia should not be talking about poverty. Why? Because Liberia is richly endowed with natural resources that are absent in many African countries that are striving to end poverty.We have often in our Editorials referred to some countries beyond Africa, notably South Korea and Singapore, which in 1960 were on the same economic plane as Liberia. But because of the shortsightedness, corruption and lack of patriotism that have bedeviled Liberia for so many generations, we are as we are today, one of the world’s poorest and most backward countries. Korea and Singapore, on the contrary, are among the world’s richest and most highly developed nations.But let us look right here in Africa at two relatively new countries, Rwanda and Botswana. Liberia is far older, far richer than either of these countries. Yes, Botswana has diamonds and cattle. And Rwanda, like Botswana, too, has very little rainfall. Contrast either country with Liberia, which is endowed with vast iron ore deposits, as well as gold, diamond and rain that falls at least six months in each year. Yet we cannot feed ourselves and have to import most of our food, including our staple, rice, and most of the meat we eat.Yet we have places in Liberia, including Grand Cess in Grand Kru County, Lofa and Nimba Counties where cattle can grow naturally. But neither the government nor private individuals have bothered to raise cattle. Instead, we depend for our beef on half sick cattle from rain-starved Mali. Botswana, on the other hand, is a major exporter of beef.Rwanda, too, has taken great advantage of something that Liberian has in abundance—tourist attractions. The difference with Liberia is that neither the Liberian government nor private individuals have bothered to take advantage of these attractions; for example, our rich culture, Lake Piso and the entire Grand Cape Mount County and our 350-mile coastline on which beaches abound.Rwandans, on the contrary, have used their innovation to turn almost every part of their country into tourist sites to help boost the economy.Botswana is a landlocked country threatened by savanna grassland and the Kalahari Desert, and its only mineral resource is diamond, which Liberia also has in abundance.Botswana, too, has dwelt on ethical value to denounce corruption and preach equality and morality in order to build the least corrupt society on the African continent.Travelers who visit those countries all speak of the improvements that have been made there in recent years. Yet Liberians, especially our government officials, including our President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, cannot emulate these far younger African nations.How serious is Liberia to end poverty in line with the World Bank’s goal? Look at all the great opportunities we have missed year in, year out. Take all the beautifully made geographical landscapes God has given us. What have we been waiting for all these years to turn them into tourism sites to bring revenue to the country? Tourism brings not only money, including loads of hard currency; but also employment and development. Nearly every week this newspaper carries stories of major international hotel chains opening modern hotel complexes in various parts of Africa, and we have since the war—and not even in the past 12 years of the Ellen Sirleaf administration, been able to fix the Ducor, West Africa’s first five star hotel. Pray tell us why.Poor Liberia; when are we ever going to get a government that will seriously engage in the fight against poverty by putting to work the great and serious advantages we have, the rich endowments that the God of nations has bestowed upon us?Within the next two weeks we have a chance to elect a new president of Liberia. What we must do now is to determine who between the two contestants in the presidential run-off is better prepared to wage the serious, vigorous, persistent and committed fight against poverty?Some of what we have said in this Editorial can be used as benchmarks to start this fight against poverty. But will our leaders take note of them? Will they involve the media, at least the serious parts of the Liberian media, to help chart the course in this great challenge of the moment—fighting and defeating poverty in Liberia and setting our nation, at long last, on the path to economic and social development?That remains to be seen.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Mr. Eduardo Moeira of UNIDO and LCU president Toure.Whoever said that “if you give a hungry man a fish, you feed him for a day, but if you teach him how to fish, you feed him for a lifetime,” might have had an idea why the Japanese Government decided to provide development assistance to Liberia, after the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the country.The Japanese government realized that Liberia is still on its way to recovery from a 14-year civil war and the recent outbreak of Ebola that seriously affected the country’s path to reconstruction, leaving Liberians heavily reliant on transnational corporations (TNC) for the country’s economy.However, the Japanese government has realized that unemployment is unavailable to unskilled and semi-skilled workers and that TNC’s contribution towards creating job opportunities as well as poverty reduction has been limited. “Conflict against TNC’s has been frequently observed in concession project-affected communities (PAC).”Hence, the Japanese government, in its supplementary budget year (2016), with the implementing period (March 27-June, 2018) through UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization), in the amount of US$597,000, initiated a project that aims to promote social stabilization by improving human security of the vulnerable people and communities affected by crises in close coordination with TNCs.The activities include carpentry and Entrepreneurship Development Program (EDP) training. The project sites are Monrovia and Margibi County; it is expected to enhance socioeconomic resilience and provide a means out of poverty.Several hundred Liberian youth, who have worked along with the Liberia Carpentry Union (LCU), have been assisted to develop their skills in carpentry, while some of their leaders have gained training in Japan, under Japanese government’s assistance.According to Mohammad Toure, president of the LCU, the Japanese government’s assistance has been tremendous. “We chose 60 young people from communities that are near concessionaire areas, such as Margibi, Grand Bassa, and Montserrado counties where 300 young men were trained, with 55 of them well established.”He said with the improved work of their members to provide quality furniture, the Liberian government should implement a policy that gives Liberian carpenters the opportunity to supply 25 percent of furniture bought for ministries and agencies of government.“We want a showroom where we can display our products so that Liberians can see what we are capable of doing,” Toure said. He commended the Government of Japan for carving a pathway for Liberians who are prepared to learn carpentry and get themselves out of poverty.Toure told the Daily Observer that his Union is dialoguing with authorities of the Ministry of Commerce to work out an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with the promise that through the Japanese assistance, Liberian carpenters will provide any quality furniture imaginable for the local market.He said at present, at least 400 Liberians, including females, have gone through a system of education, using the Booker Washington Institute (BWI). While regretting that there are challenges, Toure believes that once the Ministry of Commerce (MoC) can show the political will to empower them with their demands, LCU members will have a sustainable route out of poverty.Mohamed S. Turay, vice president of the LCU, told journalists that he was opportune to travel to Japan with assistance from the Japanese government. “What I learned in Japan has motivated me a lot and I am imparting the knowledge to young people who are passionate about learning carpentry,” he said. The carpentry project is led by UNIDO, with Eduardo Moreira as the project’s technical advisor.“We want to appeal to the Japanese government to resume its assistance so that we can continue to develop our capacity as a way of getting many young Liberians out of grinding poverty,” Turay said.Japan provides approximately a US$3M grant assistance for grassroots human security projects in Liberia (2012-2018).Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
The Guyana Power and Light Incorporated (GPL) has started the rollout of a multibillion-dollar upgrade to the electricity distribution network for villages on the East Coast of Demerara (ECD).Speaking at a community outreach with residents of Buxton and neighbouring communities, at the Buxton Secondary School last evening, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) acting, Renford Homer said the project is part of the wider Power Utility Upgrade Programme (PUUP) and is aimed at providing a higher quality of service to its consumers.“It’s not just about what’s happening in Buxton/Friendship. This is a programme that has been identified to help our company in improving the quality of service. This has come about because there has been a long recognition that our network is quite aged but more importantly because as a company we are always challenged financially because of the intense cost of generating electricity,” Bowen is quoted by the Department of Public Information as saying to residents.The renovation to the East Coast distribution network is part of an approximately US$65 million utility upgrade funded equally by a grant from the European Union (EU) and a loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The project among other things will see the use of distribution boxes and insulated wires, to minimise the instances of illegal connection that cause disruptions to the power distribution network; and smart meters to allow for more frequent, accurate readings without the need to visit a consumer’s premises.According to the CEO acting, the upgrade which targets an overall 85 communities, will be rolled out in four phases, namely excavation and pole planting, stringing of conductors, electrical installation, and installation of smart meters.“This is just one phase of a project that is expected to span approximately 830km of new and upgraded cable and it’s also meant to see overall an average of about 58,000 meters being equipped with more modern electronic metres,” Homer explained.GPL has since said that during phase two and three, there will be extended periods of outages and asks that consumers bear with them.The contract for the execution of the PUUP was awarded to China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation/China Synergy Electric Engineering Company (CMC/CSEEC). The local subcontractor is Ramoutar and Sons Contracting.
The sentencing of a man who was implicated in killing his own mother seven years ago has been deferred to accommodate a court request for a medical evaluation of the defendant.Accused mom killer: Adrian McKenzieAdrian Mc Kenzie’s sentencing was scheduled to be handed down by Justice James Bovell-Drakes at the High Court in Georgetown on Monday, but the judge requested a medical evaluation to determine whether he is fit to be sentenced. The evaluation will have to be conducted by a Government psychiatrist.Using a hammer, McKenzie beat 62-year-old Ethel Andrews to death on November 16, 2010 at their Sand Creek, Rupununi home. According to reports, the woman had reprimanded her son after he allegedly had assaulted his father and was in the process of carrying out a similar attack on his grandfather.Reportedly after the woman had intervened to prevent him from so doing, Mc Kenzie became angered and hammered his mother in the head. She reportedly died shortly afterwards.Justice Bovell-Drakes has adjourned proceedings to December 5, when a determination would be made on the fitness of the accused to be sentenced, weeks after he pleaded guilty to the lesser count of manslaughter.He was represented by Defence Counsel Maxwell McKay, while Prosecutors Mandell Moore and Orinthia Schmidt had led the State’s case.
After refusing to pay a past employee an awarded sum of $79 million for wrongful dismissal, the New Building Society’s appeal against former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Maurice Arjoon will come up for ruling by Justice Rishi Persaud at the Appeal Court of Guyana on December 19.During Wednesday’s proceedings at the nation’s highest court, the parties, who appeared were Arjoon and one the representing attorneys, Siand Dhurjon; whileDismissed NBS CEO, Maurice ArjoonNBS Attorney, Senior Counsel Ashton Chase, was also present.It was recently disclosed that December 5 was the date set for ruling but after discussions with both parties, Justice Persaud set December 19 as the new date for ruling on the matter. After the announcement of the new date was made, Arjoon swiftly exited the courtroom.It has been five years since the former CEO took NBS to court for his outstanding pension and other benefits. Arjoon had originally sued the lending agency for some $550 million in damages on the following grounds: that he had been wrongfully dismissed from his post, and that his former employer had withheld pension and other benefits due him.The former top official was fired from his position 10 years ago in connection with a Magistrate’s Court matter wherein he, NBS Operations Manager Kent Vincent and NBS Assistant Mortgage Manager Kissoon Baldeo were all accused of conspiracy to defraud NBS of $69 million. The court matter was eventually dismissed, and Arjoon and the co-defendants took the financial institution to court in 2011. Having been dragged out for more than five years, the High Court matter was initially listed for decision on November 29, 2016; but it was only after repeated articles in this regard had appeared in the media that the court handed down its ruling on July 17.High Court Judge Justice Brassington Reynolds ruled in the dismissed CEO’s favour, awarding him more than $79 million in outstanding payments and benefits. The court also ruled that he should be paid a monthly pension of $372,498 from July 1 onwards. The Judge further ordered that the former CEO should receive financial compensation for the damages he had suffered; and moreover, that he was entitled to his pension and severance benefits, in accordance with provisions stipulated in the laws of Guyana.The NBS had contended that an unauthorised withdrawal of nearly $70 million had been made from an account that its client Bibi Shamina Khan held.The NBS’s issue with the withdrawal was that it was made through a Power of Attorney, and the company had implicated Arjoon for misconduct. The court in its determination contended that the NBS had failed to provide evidence that supported its claim of misconduct, whether serious or otherwise.Arjoon, who told media operatives that he was sick, had claimed that he was set-up on the fraud allegations because he allegedly refusal to approve a loan of some $2 billion applied for in 2006. He had also noted that the investigation into the fraud allegations was conducted later that same year, implicating him as CEO, as well as the co-defendants.
…says divestment plan will cripple sugar workersThe 2018 Budget debate was opened by Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) Priya Manickchand who wasted no time in reproaching Government for its lack of vision, describing the fiscal plan as a ‘check box’ budget and urged them to state their ideology and philosophy for Guyana.Manickchand, a former Minister under the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Government, told the National Assembly that the paper was robotic in laying out a proper programme for the development of Guyana. She is of the firm view that it does not address the needs of the people.Priya Manickchand during her budget presentationIn addressing some of her concerns about the local economy, the Opposition MP said because of the politically unstable environment, people feel uncomfortable to invest in Guyana. But importantly also, Manickchand said there are several reasons that continue to cause the local economy to perform poorly, which has to do with the Government’s incompetence to strategise.She argued that the PPP laid a solid foundation to propel the economy to greater heights but accused the current Administration of “dumping years of democratic practices.” Manickchand therefore urged the Government to work with the Opposition to craft and present a stimulus plan. She noted that this is lacking in Budget 2018 and all the previous budgets that were presented by the current Government.The former Minister noted also that the Government has adopted most of the programmes and projects that were started under the PPP Government which continue to show some progress. However, in a few cases where these programmes have been altered, they are not achieving the goals that they were created to achieve and this, according to the MP, should be addressed.Further, she debated that Government seems incapable of properly projecting Guyana’s annual income, noting that this has happened twice last year when they had to make adjustments. Manickchand pointed out that Government had to come back twice and admit to making mistakes on the projections.“I want to invite the Government and the Ministers in the Cabinet to consider why it is they might have not seen the expected income they wanted. I am asking directly, Sir, of the Ministers for them to ponder if perhaps the fact that they declared the country to be bankrupted from the beginning has seen no investments coming here and therefore no growth,” she added.Touching on the PPP’s performance in Government, Manickchand said her party delivered development that benefited all groups of citizens and during their leadership poverty was reduced. She therefore challenged the coalition Government to continue to ensure that poverty is further reduced but noted that the 2018 Budget did not contain any tangible measures to support this reduction.Crippling sugar workersSpeaking specifically about the plight of sugar workers, most of which will no longer have a job in 2018, the Opposition MP said the coalition Government is ‘crippling’ these workers. “We failing to give them anything they can do to earn for their families. So it’s like a car, you’re walking out of this Parliament lick you upside down and change your life automatically. The Government is doing that.”Manickchand argued that the Government’s move is unconscionable especially since they have made no effort to train the affected workers to become employable in any other field. She said, “These are not skilled and educated people that you can get up from one desk job and move to another assuming that those existed for 2000 people. These are people with special skills, you have to retrain them.”Reference was also made to President David Granger’s visit to Kenya, as he addressed a United Nations forum and encouraged the gathering that people must be put first before profit. “We don’t need to go to Kenya to hear people before profit, let your actions speak right here in Guyana. Put the people of the sugar estates first… Aren’t they people or because they aren’t your people?” she questioned. “I want to ask this Government if they feel comfortable knocking off these people because they do not believe these people aren’t theirs. That’s not an insinuation but a clear question. Answer it!”The former Human Services Minister has suggested that the Government utilise the money earned from the imposition of the Value Added Tax (VAT) on education to assist the families of those who will be laid off by the end of this year by the Guyana Sugar Corporation. Manickchand said this will help to cushion the effects these soon-to-be unemployed parents face ins ending their children to school, especially in light of the fact that Government had removed the school uniform subsidy.
Freedom Radio challengeFreedom Radio Inc’s constitutional challenge against the Guyana National Broadcasting Authority (GNBA) increasing the annual broadcast fee and imposing Government-mandated broadcasts during prime time hours is set for ruling on February 15, 2018.The matter came up for hearing at the Supreme Court on Wednesday when acting Chief Justice Roxane George, SC, ordered both sides to put their submissions to the court in writing.Attorney for the applicant, Anil Nandlall has until December 15 for his submissions in writing to the court while Attorney General Basil Williams has until February 8 to submit his response to Nandlall’s submissions. The acting Chief Justice indicatedFreedom Radio Inc Director, Irfaan Alithereafter that the matter was fixed for ruling on February 15, 2018.In the constitutional challenge that was filed on behalf of Freedom Radio Director Irfaan Ali, Nandlall and Associates are calling on the court to place on hold the enforcement of several provisions in the Broadcasting Act until the determination of the Judiciary. The sworn affidavit, filed in Ali’s name, claims that provisions in the Broadcast Act expropriate the business’s airwaves causing it to lose on its revenue during ‘prime time’, without compensation.The affidavit states Freedom Radio Inc is in the business of selling airtime for reward and the provisions in question are not only onerous but are in fact unconstitutional since they violate guaranteed and protected rights and freedoms. The coalition Administration earlier this year enacted broadcast legislation which compels local broadcasters to broadcast Government programmes under the ambit of “public service programmes”. Freedom Radio Inc, which is owned and managed by the Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP), had highlighted in its legal documents that “between the hours of 06:00h and 22:00h are considered prime-time; this means that these hours attract the highest rates of rewards”.The radio station contends that an hour during this period can easily be sold at a more competitive rate – higher depending upon the particular day of the week – and as such, the requirement by Government in fact “expropriates” money from Freedom Radio without compensation. The Opposition station argues that the move was in fact unconstitutional, since it violated fundamentals rights and freedoms, which enjoy protection under the Constitution of Guyana.The applicant further highlighted that the fees have been increased to $7.5 million annually, up from the $2.5 million of previous payments. Freedom Radio Inc previously paid $2.5 million annually for its Broadcasting Licence in addition to another payment of $633,600 for its Spectrum/Frequency. These fees were paid over to the then National Frequency Management Unit (NFMU), the predecessor to the Guyana Broadcasting Authority which came into being with the assent of Head of State, David Granger to the amended broadcasting legislation.Under the new arrangement, the Administration introduced a zoning system and charges fees for each zone. According to Freedom Radio in its challenge, with the new zoning system, the fee “for broadcasting licence to broadcast in the very areas that it is now transmitting would skyrocket from $2,500,000 annually, to over $7,500,000 annually”.
Residents of Coomacka Mines and other areas in Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice), more so parents of school-age children are seeking the intervention of the relevant authorities to have the David ‘G’ school bus which was gifted to the community under the President’s 5Bs initiative up and running.According to concerned residents of the remote Mines areas, the bus has not been in operation since the beginning of the school term last month, and residents have not been informed about its whereabouts or of anything which might be associatedThe inoperable Coomacka school buswith it.As a result, they noted that it was difficult to send their children to school, given the fact that many students attended schools miles away at Linden and other areas and the cost for transportation was high.Region 10 Chairman Renis Morian, during the hosting of the most recent statutory meeting, noted that he was informed about the issue via complaints from residents.A resident of the community told Guyana Times that parents were frustrated by the situation. “… the parents of some schoolchildren are asking the whereabouts of the David ‘G’ school bus that is supposed to be traversing the Mines area to take children to and from school. Children are being kept at home due to their parents not being able to provide financially for them to be able to go to school.”“Education officials in the Region are not shedding any light about the issue with the bus and why it is not working. Residents need to be informed,” a resident stressed.Meanwhile, the Regional Chairman has asked Councillors and other officials to get involved to rectify the situation, as he pointed out that the Region’s Department of Education was not previously informed of the issue.“I got complaints coming from Coomacka … the Department of Education wasn’t notified that the bus is not working,” he noted.