The government of Japan is considering Liberia's request to assist in the expansion of Somalia Drive into 4 lanes, with Public Works Minister, Samuel Kofi Woods, describing as "positive" on-going discussions between the two Governments focusing on the infrastructure sector of Liberia.
Minister Woods as part of government delegation was in Tokyo to conclude negotiations for the rehabilitation and expansion of the Somalia Drive-commencing from the Freeport of Monrovia to Red light under a grant from the Japanese Government.
A Public Works Ministry statement said the expected four lanes road will decongest traffic in the Gardnerville areas and increase the free flow of traffic and the movement of people through the Freeway corridor.
The delegation which is headed by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to Japan to attend the World Bank meeting will also conclude negotiations for the improvement of the Gabriel Tucker Bridge and the reconstruction of missing links in Monrovia.
The Japan International Co-operation Agency and the Ministry of Public Works recently carried out a joint study of the proposed projects aimed at developing a 10 year master plan including a restoration of urban facilities covering the entire City of Monrovia and adjoining areas such as Johnsonville and Paynesville.
In the Ministry of Public Works' submission, the Government of Liberia recognized the critical importance of both the Somalia Drive and the Johnson Street Bridge in alleviating traffic congestion and enhancing economic development in the area.
The Ministry of Public Works preference for the Somalia Drive is based on the potentially far reaching social economic impact the road work would have on stimulating domestic economic activities thereby fostering regional trade.
The Ministry of Works also expressed its concern on the maintenance of roads and bridges in Monrovia and its environs, noting that as a result of the civil war, roads and bridges maintenance has not been carried out throughout the Country. "Most roads are impassable because of the washing away of road embankment, seasonal erosion, inundation of roads and inappropriate crossing at water streams."
It is anticipated that the construction of the missing links in Monrovia would facilitate the movement of citizens, vehicles and goods at many water crossing points in Congo Town, Paynesville, Gardnerville, Caldwell and other areas in Monrovia.
The 14 kilometers road is to be reconstructed in its entirety from Freeport and the Bushrod Island junction to the Red-Light to meet international standards and to improve the living and working conditions of the people in the area.
The Ministry also recognizes that the national road network should be seen as an essential pre-condition for general economic development, and considerable resources should be devoted to the road construction and improvement.
In related development, the Ministry of Public Works is also concluding final negotiations on widening and expanding the Monrovia to Robertfield highway in an effort to expand the corridor to four lanes under the Counterpart Value Fund (CVF) of the Japanese Government.
The project which is put at $5.6 million is basically designed to enhance and improve urban planning and land use management that will be targeted along the highway as envisaged, and will include activities such as opening up of alleys and neighborhood roads, the construction of pedestrian sidewalks and the planning of curbs among others.
It can be recalled that on Monday, August 29, 2011, a three man technical team from the government of Japan through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) conducted background survey on the full rehabilitation and expansion of the Somalia Drive linking the Red-light areas to the Freeport of Liberia.