Tuvalua has never won a gold medal at the Pacific Games, only settling for silver and bronze in the past.Competing in powerlifting in the 120kg category, the 29 year old lifted a total of 337.5kg in the squat; 182.5kg in the bench press; and 285kg in the deadlift.He beat two other powerlifters from Nauru who settled for silver and bronze.Asked how he felt, a shy Ioesefa said he was a proud man but also surprised at how well he had done at the Games.He said he had only started fully training in 2013 and had not much international exposure.“I feel so proud to be the first to win gold for my country and make history. There will be big celebrations when I get back home to Tuvalu,” said Ioesefa.The small nation of Tuvalu has so far won two bronze in powerlifting and two silver medals in weightlifting for the Oceania Junior division at the 2015 Pacific Games.
Amidst allegations that some local vendors are working behind the scenes to make a windfall during this national Ebola calamity in Liberia, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has debunked allegations that it was working in sync with the National Ebola Taskforce to procure about 17 ambulances to help in the fight against the deadly Ebola scourge.One of the vendors participating in the bid to supply the ambulances said that the whole process was shrouded in an unholy, unprofessional aura (atmosphere). “We are bringing this to the press because we are afraid that a certain firm wants to manipulate the process to take undue advantage”, our informants, who preferred anonymity said.This revelation was also corroborated by a source close to the Ebola Taskforce who asked not to be named.Our source explained that when it became obvious that there was a need for the importation of more ambulances to facilitate the transport of Ebola-affected patients and the collection of dead Ebola bodies, the Taskforce approached the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in a bid to have the latter help in bringing the ambulances into Liberia. Our reporter also gathered that the Taskforce approached a number of vendors soliciting quotations for the importation of ambulances. This was confirmed by James Dorbor Jallah, Coordinator of the Taskforce.The Daily Observer, acting on the tip off, immediately contacted UNDP to authenticate the veracity in the allegation.On whether the UNDP advised the National Ebola Taskforce or had a conversation relative to the procurement of ambulances at the unit cost of US$33,000, Augusta Pshorr, Communication Specialist at the UNDP, said on August 13, 2014, the UNDP received a message from the Taskforce that in response to the Ebola emergency, the Government of Liberia wanted to procure 17 ambulances for immediate use, and wanted to know whether UNDP could help.Pshorr further indicated that before UNDP could respond, it (UNDP) was advised that given the urgency, action had been taken to procure 12 ambulances that would be available in 30 days; but the question was whether UNDP would assist in lifting them by air. UNDP promised to check on available options and advise accordingly, which she said UNDP could.Pressed further on the results of the UNDP/Ebola Taskforce interaction relative to the overseas procurement of ambulances, Pshorr said it was “Just through exchanges, but in the meantime, UNDP offered to provide assistance in any future procurement needs using its procurement system that responds to emergencies like Ebola.”By these exchanges, Pshorr could not tell the current status of the transaction and could not tell the Daily Observer whether the exchanges between the two institutions had ended in a deadlock.Though Pshorr claimed that the UNDP did not know the details of the Taskforce ambulance importation transaction, our source at the UNDP says that after learning of the Taskforce solicitation of quotations from vendors, it (UNDP) alerted the Taskforce of the alleged breach but the Taskforce downplayed Pshorr’s advice and went ahead to negotiate a deal with the Africa Motors to import 12 ambulances at the unit cost US$ 66,000.Since the outbreak of the Ebola malady accounting for the death of over 1,000 Liberians and other nationals in Liberia, there have been alleged attempts by some service providers, international organizations and some members of the national Ebola Taskforce to work out a scheme to purchase ambulances far beyond their market value.When contacted, an official of the Africa Motors, Mohammed Batsam, said after they were approached by the Taskforce to provide quotations for the procurement of 12 ambulances, and they forwarded all of the necessary quotations projecting US$66,000 per unit to the Task Force.Batsam said all of the requisite documents were forwarded to the Taskforce, including a Performance Bond from the GT Bank and they are awaiting the response of the Taskforce.When asked whether Africa Motors was colluding with some members of the Taskforce to bring into Liberia ambulances at a unit cost double the US$33,000 as suggested by the UNDP, Batsam denied the allegation, addin, “We have always been partners of the Liberian government and people.”He said the ambulances they promised to bring in the country are 4×4 Toyota Land Cruiser jeeps fully air-conditioned with all of the appropriate accessories and state of the art equipment that should be in an ambulance.Up to press time, Batsam said the deal had not been concluded, but added that once it was concluded, the Toyota Land Cruiser ambulances which are made in Japan will be lifted from the United Arab Emirates.The Africa Motors executive denied the allegation that his company was colluding with insiders at the Ebola Taskforce to sell an ambulance far above the price of US$33,000 allegedly proposed by the UNDP. When contacted, Mary Broh, Director of the General Services Agency, invited James Dorbor Jallah, Coordinator of the Taskforce, who clarified that the Taskforce did solicit quotations from vendors to be appraised for the subsequent procurements of additional ambulances to help augment the strength of ambulances currently in the fleet, helping in the collection of suspected patients of Ebola and the dead.Jallah explained that following the perusal of all of the quotations, the Taskforce will make a determination on which company or companies to engage to bring in the ambulances.Since the Ebola disease outbreak here, there have been a mismatch between the number of people dying from the disease and the number of ambulances needed to take suspected patients to isolation centers and to convey the dead to the crematorium or burial sites. The conspicuous absence of ambulances at major health centers across the country has exposed the weakness in Liberia’s health system.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
North Korea’s U.N. Ambassador Kim Song held a rare news conference at the United Nations in New York to demand the immediate return of the ship, which the United States said earlier this month it had seized over accusations it was used for coal shipments in violation of U.S. and U.N. sanctions.“The United States should deliberate and think over the consequences its outrageous act might have on the future developments. Also the United States must return our cargo ship without delay,” Kim said. “We regard it as part of our territory where our sovereignty is fully exercised.”He said the seizure of the ship, known as the “Wise Honest,” defied the spirit of a statement by U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after their first meeting in Singapore in June 2018. They pledged to build new ties between their countries and work toward North Korea’s denuclearization.The U.S. Justice Department earlier this month said the ship was seized and impounded to American Samoa. The vessel was first detained by Indonesia in April 2018.A second meeting between Trump and Kim Jong Un in Hanoi broke down in February. With talks on denuclearization stalled, North Korea went ahead with more weapons tests this month. The tests were seen as a protest by Kim Jong Un after Trump rejected his calls for sanctions relief at the Hanoi summit.The U.N. Security Council has unanimously strengthened sanctions on North Korea since 2006 in a bid to choke funding for Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, banning exports including coal, iron, lead, textiles and seafood, and capping imports of crude oil and refined petroleum products.“We will carefully watch every move of the United States,” said Kim.Kim wrote to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday to ask him to take “urgent measures” over the issue. U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Tuesday that the letter had been received.“We’re taking a look at it. The issue of sanctions, the implementation of sanctions, the interpretation of sanctions, is really a matter for the U.N. Security Council to decide and to discuss,” he said. North Korea stepped up its campaign on Tuesday for the United States to return a seized cargo ship belonging to Pyongyang, warning Washington that it had violated its sovereignty in a move that could affect “future developments” between the countries. London best pest control