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Paynesville City, Fire Service In “Zogoes” Activities …Mayor “Attacked,” Fire Fighters Injured

By Bill W. Cooper
What appears to have been a scuffle between members of the Paynesville City Corporation and members of the Liberia National Fire Service (LNFS) is said to have led the Mayor E. Pam Belcher-Taylor and some fire fighters injured.
According to the information, the incident over an erected structure within the proximity of the PCC which both parties are claiming ownership erupted on August 11 between the PCC and fire fighters thus resulting into the attacks and subsequent injuring of Mayor Belcher-Taylor.
The intervention of House Speaker, Bhofal Chambers brought calm to the violent incident but speaking to journalists following the incident, Mayor Belcher-Taylor explained that she earlier issued a stay order on the LNFS, warning them against constructing any proposed clinic in a place given them as squatters by her predecessor through a verbal arrangement.
She further said that she was told that the PCC through her predecessor, Mayor Cyvette Gibson had entered a verbal MoU with the LNFS to use the said building as its sub-office in Paynesville and indicated, “We have had a cordial relationship since I became mayor of Paynesville.”
“Even if you wanted to do something, come back and inform me about your decision. We earlier wrote a stop order and if Director Dickson had problem, he should have come or call me because we are all government officials,” the PCC Mayor stated.
The Mayor further stated that despite her stay order written to the Fire Service, it deliberately ignored her and started the construction work, emphasizing, “So I got angry and decided to go and see the site and that was where I got attacked and injured by personnel of the LNFS who resisted my order in disrespect of the city ordinance.”
“The PCC security tried to get me out of the situation but they kept engaging us with sticks and another officer of the LNFS who was in uniform also instructed officers to disrespect me. One of them dressed in riot stuff also came close to me and pushed me to the ground and injured my shoulder,” Madam Belcher-Taylor explained.
But when contacted, the LNFS Chief of Press and Public Affairs, Col. Augustine B. Momo, denied the attacks and injury sustained any of the rioters stating that the structure in question belongs to the LNFS, thus confirming that it was erected by UNMIL as a means of responding swiftly to fire outbreaks in Paynesville City and its adjacent communities contrary to Mayor Belcher-Taylor’s assertion.
According to him, since the erection of the structure, it is only the LNFS that has occupied the building using it for the intended purpose and emphasized that it is due to bad road conditions which has prohibited the smooth passage of their fire truck that they have decided to carry on renovation works and erect a clinic which will be used by both the fire fighters and citizens within the Paynesville belt.
He said the attacks on the PCC Mayor by fighters were mere allegations, noting, “There have been no reports that any member of the LNFS was ever engaged into any unlawful practices. Our first and foremost obligation in the Republic is to protect lives and property from every fire outbreak and not to engage in any act of violence as being insinuated by the PCC Mayor.”
Though he admitted that a situation was resolved through the intervention of Speaker Chambers, Col. Momo stated that the PCC and the Fire Service were reconciling the matter.
“I don’t think the incident that resulted into commotion between the two government entities was something for the Mayor to reveal to the media because it has been resolved,” Momo stated.

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