31 December 2012

Liberia: Gbarnga-Mendikorma Highway Pavement Biggest Gift for Lofa - As Feasibility Study Continues

Citizens of Lofa County are already celebrating the news that the Government of Liberia has begun feasibility studies for the asphalt pavement of the Gbarnga-Mendikorma high, describing it as the biggest gift ever the county would receive from any administration.

The Gbarnga-Mendikorma Highway stretches nearly 280 kilometers from the capital of Bong to the Sierra Leonean border--passing through major towns like Zorzor, Voinjama (Lofa's capital), Kolahun and Foya, few blocks to the border.

Elders, Chiefs, Youth and women groups throughout the county told Public Works Minister Samuel Kofi Woods last week that they will totally cooperate with the government and whoever is chosen to build the road. "We will totally support that development; we are ready to work; we will provide manpower and that's why we want the young people included in the project," Boakai V. Kamara, representing the Youth of Voinjama pledged.

Lofa District #4 Representative Mariama Kamara stated that the paved highway will open a new chapter in Lofa and Liberia. "With this major highway passing through our county, we will no longer need to import rich in Liberia. Lofa will feed the country as we did before."

Many other citizens said they believe that the pavement of the road will open up the country, boost its socio-economic development and enable the people of Lofa to once more feed Liberia as they did before the war for which the county is called Liberia's "bread basket."

Minister Woods, throughout his tour of six of the county's seven districts, where he dedicated new feeder roads, broke ground for construction of several others and inspected ongoing works told the people of Lofa that the Gbarnga-Mendikorma Highway will definitely be paved.

He said with a US$1.8 Million grant from the Kuwaiti Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED), the feasibility study for the highway was in progress.

Woods said following the completion of the study sometime next year, the Government will then commence negotiation with both her bilateral and multilateral partners based on the finding for the full pavement.

"Right now we don't know what it will cost us to build that road," the Minister told his audience in Gbarnga, Salayea, Zolowo, Voinjama, Kolahun, Vahun, Yandohun, Yallahun, Fangoma/Massambolahun, Worsonga (home of Vice President Joseph Boakai), among several other towns. "So that's why you see two different companies on the road checking to tell us how much money the government needs to find to pave this road," he explained in simple Liberian English.

Woods told the jubilating citizens that: "After all of that work is done, when we know how much money we will spend, we will now ask our good, good friends and partners to help us with money to pave this road so that you can move freely in the raining season and the dry season with no mud and dust on the road."

He said maintaining the road in laterite form was very expensive because it has to be worked on every year and then gets eroded during the rainy season. "We have to change this situation and that why the President wants to pave your road so you can not suffer any more."

Woods has hinted that such project that is also a component of the trans-West African highway project, an idea of the AU, ECOWAS, and the African Development Bank.

The people of Lofa continues to cry for roads, describing it as the single most challenge standing in the economic development of the country's second largest political subdivision.

Lofa is arguably the most severely affected by the 14 years of war, suffering extensive damage of infrastructure, basic social services as well as mass displacements and loss of life.

In 2008, under the County Development Agenda, they identified the critical interventions needed to move toward realizing the MDGs. Among key issues, the citizens identified the paving of all primary roads and most secondary roads, construction of new alternative routes from Lofa to Monrovia and new feeder roads to connect agriculture communities to market.

They also called for construction and rehabilitation of health facilities with proper staffing and affordable services, and much-expanded education services, including a university in the county seat, high schools in every district headquarters, free quality primary education for all, and professional education at affordable prices.

Lofa has seven political sub-divisions including Salayea, Zorzor, Voinjama, Kolahun, Foya Vahun and Quadru Gboni, and allm of these districts are in dire need of feeder and secondary roads to enable citizens move easily and boost economic and agricultural production.

"We know what the people of Lofa want. They want roads, and we will work to bring more roads here," Minister Woods noted, adding that after the major roads are done in the county, the government will turn its attention to smaller and farm-to-market roads.

Last modified on Monday, 31 December 2012 13:15

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