MONROVIA-NThe National Transit Authority (NTA) is facing imminent collapse due to poor management, leading to a significant number of buses owned by the organization being out of service for an extended period.

The NTA, established in 2009, is responsible for providing affordable, convenient, and reliable mass transit services to the people of Liberia. Initially known as the Monrovia Transit Authority (MTA), it was formed in 1977 as a department of the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC) to cater to the transportation needs of Monrovia residents.

During the administration of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in 2015, the NTA received 20 buses as a gift from the Turkish government. However, the current management claims that they inherited only 15 operational buses from the previous government.

Additionally, the NTA received a donation of 45 buses from the Government of India through its former Honorary Consul General to Liberia, Mr. Upjit Singh, making a total of approximately 60 functioning buses in the NTA’s possession.

Despite the significant number of buses, the availability of these vehicles for providing affordable transportation services to the Liberian people remains scarce. Sources within the organization suggest that almost all of the donated buses are currently out of service, severely impacting the NTA’s ability to generate revenue for its operations and meet its financial obligations, including employee salaries and contractor payments.

Concerned citizens have expressed their frustration over the scarcity of buses at various parking points in Monrovia and other parts of the country. The blame for this situation has been placed on the current management team, led by Mr. Herbie McCauley, for their failure to effectively and efficiently fulfill their assigned tasks and responsibilities.

The Liberian Senate has initiated an investigation into the absence of NTA buses on various routes in Monrovia and other parts of the country. This decision follows the concerns raised by River Gee County Senator Jonathan Sogbie.

Financial challenges also plague the NTA, as it has accumulated significant debts to its service providers. Just last month, the Debt Court ordered the closure of the NTA for allegedly owing Thunder Bird Corporation US$105,202.33 for lubricant supplies. The court directed the seizure and potential sale of NTA assets and interests, with the Managing Director, Herbie McCauley, being held accountable. The court’s order has yet to be implemented, and it is unclear whether the matter has been resolved through other means.

There have been allegations of irregularities within the NTA, including the unilateral replacement of the former Comptroller by Mr. McCauley, who is accused of requesting funds generated from the buses to be delivered to his residence instead of the NTA compound. These leaked recordings prompted an investigation by the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC).

Furthermore, Mr. McCauley’s appointment as the Managing Director of the NTA expired, raising questions about the process of his appointment and the lack of a recommendation for his re-appointment from the Board of Directors. The delay in appointing additional board members by President George Manneh Weah has further prolonged Mr. McCauley’s stay at the NTA without a permanent contract. Presently, only two statutory members serve on the Board, while two others have not been replaced or considered for reappointment.

In response to the criticisms and allegations, Mr. McCauley defended himself by stating that he cannot be held liable for serving the NTA without the renewal of his contract by the Board.

He claimed to have written multiple letters to President Weah expressing concern over the matter. He also mentioned that the NTA has not received any funding from the Ministry of Finance since August 2022, which has contributed to the grounding of the buses.

Regarding the grounded buses, Mr. McCauley acknowledged that some of them are out of service because spare parts are not readily available. He explained that the engines of the buses donated by India were scheduled for overhaul after a three-year period, which has already expired.

To extend their lifespan, these buses require refurbishment and engine overhauls, which are currently pending due to funding constraints. He emphasized that the NTA is awaiting the release of its allocation from the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning to address this issue.

Despite generating revenue, the NTA does not contribute to the National Budget. Transportation fares collected by the NTA are primarily utilized for maintenance, tire and battery purchases, and employee and contractor payments.

The dire state of the NTA has resulted in significant hardships for Liberians, particularly those who rely on affordable public transportation. Many citizens are forced to spend substantial amounts on transportation fares for commercial buses or taxis, which often charge exorbitant prices. This situation compounds the economic burdens faced by the populace, given the already high prices of basic commodities and rampant unemployment.

The underlying causes of the NTA’s poor performance include friendship, cronyism, and political accommodation, which hinder efficient service delivery and accountability among public officials. The current management team, led by Mr. McCauley, has been heavily criticized for their lackluster approach and inadequate execution of their responsibilities.If the issues plaguing the NTA, including mismanagement and the concentration of power in a single individual, are not promptly addressed, the organization is at risk of collapse or bankruptcy. This would further impede its ability to settle outstanding debts and fulfill its financial obligations, including employee salaries and contractor payments in the coming months.

1 Comment
  1. Senaida Byrnes says

    Dear administrator, Thanks for the well-written and informative post!

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