The Gabonese government is warning that individuals could face arrest for collecting funds without completing the required work.
The military leaders of Gabon have issued a warning on Tuesday that they will detain the leaders of companies who have received payment for work that was not completed.
The military-appointed prime minister of Gabon, Raymond Ndong Sima, announced on state TV that the government will require contractors who have received payment but abandoned their projects to resume work or face arrest. This comes after years of these sites being left unused.
The declaration was a result of a vow to combat corruption.
Sima reported that numerous companies have returned to work following a visit by Gen. Brice Oligui Neguema, the leader of the recent coup in the central African state. The general inspected various unfinished road, water, and electricity projects in the capital city of Libreville on Saturday.
Monday’s state TV broadcast from Gabon displayed footage of citizens rejoicing as Nguema made appearances in various impoverished suburbs. Women and children eagerly hugged and greeted Nguema, some even shedding tears. According to them, this was the first instance of a Gabonese leader visiting these underprivileged areas, although VOA could not confirm this information.
According to civilians, Nguema was informed that during election periods, former President Ali Bongo Ondimba would pledge to provide drinkable water, electricity, and improved roads. He would also send equipment to begin construction. However, once the elections were over, the construction would be halted and the equipment would be taken away.
On television, Nguema announced that a group assembled by the military leadership to combat corruption has compiled a record of businesses that accepted funds from the previous government but failed to carry out any projects.
After Nguema’s departure, civilians reported that multiple companies had resumed operations.
Jacques Abossolo, a barber residing in Bizango-Bibere, stated on national television that certain projects in the area have been neglected for a decade.
Joseph Dotse, a civil engineer working on road construction in Libreville, stated that Nguema requested his company to continue the construction project that was temporarily halted due to severe rainfall. He estimated that within 10 days, Gabon Construction, his company, would finish constructing a 6-kilometer section of road that Nguema had inspected.
Dotse stated that Bongo covered 50% of the cost for the road construction and he anticipates that the military junta will pay the rest of the bill.
It was claimed that Bongo, along with his family and friends, were involved in companies that did not follow through with projects after receiving funds. Bongo’s legal team refutes these allegations.
The government of Gabon, which was chosen by the military, stated that Nguema will be touring various towns and villages in the coming days to ensure that work resumes at abandoned sites. They also warned that contractors who have embezzled state funds will face arrest if they do not repay the money.
According to Guy Roger Makongo, a professor of political science at Omar Bongo University in Libreville, Nguema has been adhering to the plan he established to reinstate democratic governance after the nonviolent coup on August 30.
Makongo stated that in addition to combatting corruption and conducting discussions to arrange a nationwide discussion by the end of the year, Nguema has established a constitutional council and selected individuals from the opposition, civil society, and the military to serve in the government, senate, and national assembly.
According to Makongo, there are doubts among many individuals about Nguema’s willingness to transfer authority to a civilian government in the near future. This is due to his failure to provide a specific timeline for the reinstatement of constitutional order.
The military leaders of Gabon have recently pledged to use over $10 million of confiscated funds to improve basic necessities such as water, electricity, roads, and schools in order to enhance the quality of life, particularly in rural areas.
The military regime announced that it had seized over 300 high-end cars. According to the junta, these vehicles and cash were confiscated from the Bongo family and their associates.
The government, chosen by the military, announced that Sylvia Bongo Ondimba Valentin, the spouse of Gabon’s removed president, along with Bongo’s son Noureddin Bongo Valentin and eight other former aides and Cabinet members, were detained as part of an anti-corruption effort initiated by the military junta.
They faced charges for multiple offenses such as treason, corruption, embezzlement, money laundering, forgery, and misuse of government organizations.