Plenary, which is the highest decision making body of the House of Representatives, otherwise known as the Lower House of the Liberian Legislature, took the decision Tuesday, October 25, 2022 during its 2nd day sitting of the third quarter following a communication from Montserrado County Electoral District#9 Representative Frank Saah Foko, Jr.
In his communication, the MOntserrado County lawmaker stated that Bridge International Academies, an educational, for Profit Company continues to defraud the Liberian Government through thousands if not millions of USD through duty free and other privileges.
“What is even more regrettable Hon. Speaker and distinguished colleagues, is that a recent interview by a Principal of a Bridge sponsored school, Wilis Town Public School in Montserrado decries situation at her school: leaking roof, limited supplies and inadequate teaching materials etc” Hon. Foko asserts.
According the Montserrado lawmaker, if this is happening right within Montserrado County, it worries him about Bridge operations with Schools in Maryland, Grand Kru, Grand Gedeh, Lofa and other far to reach places.
Hon. Foko said through his communication that in fact it took President George Weah to renovate a Bridge School, the Kendeja Public School in RLJ area before it became conducive for students.
He wonders how a company that gets paid at school by international partners can and seeking National budgetary support from lawmakers will leave the Schools in ruins.
“How can they account for all the monies they get in Liberia's name when we barely see what they do on the ground? Bridge has no assets, bank accounts of any sort that can at least guarantee their stability and accountability in Liberia”. Rep. Foko asserts.
The Montserrado County lawmaker mentioned that one of the Company's annual reports in his possession saw them raise around six million USD from donors and being in partnership with Country Liberians can barely see what these monies go towards as monies collected are not in Liberian banks but outside.
Hon. Foko further stated that in the last three years alone, Bridge Liberia has moved to three new offices like squatters and working conditions are very unfavorable.
“There is barely a vehicle they own to their names, least you say a bike for their rural workers. This is a scam Hon. Speaker and colleagues”. The lawmaker communication says.
At the same time Rep. Foko has accused the company as having one of the worst labor practices on record. “In 2020, the company laid off seventeen staff on the grounds of "Force Merger", but as per the law, such layoff when effected, upon recruiting for the same position, the laid off staff should be given first preference, this law, as many others, was disregarded by Bridge, and according to a reliable source, this matter is still on docket at the Labor Ministry. Recently, less than a month ago, Bridge continued their usual pattern and layoff over fifteen Liberians again; but these staff were never warned or suspended but dismissed arbitrarily with matters languishing at the Labor Ministry at the moment”.
Hon. Foko also told his colleagues that Bridge has changed its name globally from Bridge International to New Globe without having those changes affect Liberian books which in his mind has got criminal intent and at the same time, they have been receiving duty free privileges at the free port of Liberia for years, claiming be non-profit which is grossly misleading.
Following the reading of the Lawmaker’s Communication a motion was proffered by Grand Bassa County Electoral District#5 Representative Thomas Goshua and endorsed by plenary that Bridge appear in full plenary Tuesday, 1st November to address herself to the issues raised by the Montserrado County lawmaker.