Public Works Minister Samuel Kofi Woods says it is about time that the people of Liberia begin to experience the real benefit of their natural resources. Minister Woods made the comments when the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Public Works and Arcelor Mittal signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly pave the Ganta-Yekepa corridor in Nimba County.
According to the Works Minister, the people of Liberia are desperate and hungry for national development and as such everything will be done to accelerate this and similar other projects now that the memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed. Minister Woods then instructed the project manager; the Ministry 's Infrastructure Implementation Unit (IIU) to fast track both the tendering and contract-awarding process so that actual work commences this October.
For his part, the Head of External Affairs and Corporate Responsibility, Mr. Marcus Wleh who spoke on behalf of his boss, Antonio Carlos Maria-Chief Executive Officer of Arcelor Mittal Liberia, said the "signing demonstrates our commitment to the Government and people of Liberia and to infrastructural development for the benefit of the Liberian people".
"Even as some doubted this process, we knew that this would come to pass based on our strong partnership with the Ministry of Public Works and its current leadership under the astute guidance of Atty. Samuel Kofi Woods," Mr. Wleh remarked. The Arcelor Mittal Head of External Relations intoned that this is Arcelor Mittal way of assuring the Liberian people that it is a company for good and will continue to positively impact socio-economic development nationwide.
Connecting all County Capitals with Asphalt Paved Road-A paradigm initiative well underway:
With the contract already tabled to connect Red light and Gbarnga City in Bong County via Kakata City in Margibi County, a picture of modern road network begins to emerge interlinking the cities of Monrovia, Kakata, Gbarnga and Sanniquellie; one Capital city and three county capitals. In addition to this enviously emerging picturesque is the breadth taking elegance of a road which now connects the latex-producing plantation of Firestone to the Port City of Buchanan, Grand Bassa County by way of Cotton Tree and Bokay's Town; a project expected to be fully completed by June 2013.
Trending along this path of progress is the coming along of the African Development Bank with US $ 50M dollars to add value to the reconstructed link from Fish Town City in River Gee County to Harper City in Maryland County, while joining hands with the Government of Liberia to conduct feasibility study on the Ganta-Harper corridor.
This developing mosaic of quality asphalt paved roads can be construed to mean that by the time the Sirleaf's administration exits the Liberian political landscape; significant efforts and inroads will have been made in addressing Liberia's daring road nightmares with the immense benefits being accessibility, socio-economic improvements through the movement of people, goods and services as well as enhancing the exploitation of potential growth resources for the good of all Liberians.
Contextualizing Government Road Construction Efforts in Nimba County:
With the procurement process leading to the awarding of contract for the Gbarnga-Ganta-Guinea border road construction project almost completed, the latest development can be seen and considered as the remaining good thing that needed to complete the asphalting of primary road trunk in Nimba County. With this, one can effectively surmise that the people of Nimba County can look to the 'New Liberia' with pride, hope and a reverberating spirit as well as enthusiasm that their government through the Ministry of Public Works is indeed committed to the agenda for transformation; a precursor the now carved "Liberia Rising 2030".
As an added on strategy, the Ministry of Public Works and the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) through the Liberian-Swedish Feeder Road Project (LSFRP) have expanded from Bong and Lofa into Nimba and are currently constructing as well as standardizing six feeder roads with several other farm to market access in the pipeline beyond 2013-2014.
Giving the viability of Nimba in terms of natural resources (Iron ore) deposit, security and commerce, it is no gainsaying that high value road connectivity as being initiated by President Sirleaf and her administration will lead to the full acceleration of sustainable socio-economic development for our people bordering the sisterly countries of Guinea and La Cote d' Ivoire.
At the sub-regional level, it is indeed anticipated that cross border transactions and movement of people as well as services will be greatly enhanced, thus allowing Liberia and its Mano River Union (MRU) counterparts to maximize the immense benefits associated with trade and commerce.
Residents of the second most populated county in Liberia can be assured that the values to be accrued from modern road network are indeed unquantifiable and range from reduction in transportation time and cost to the boosting of local tourism as well as comfort for travelers and increase in savings for transport and vehicle owners due to a drastic reduction associated the repairs of vehicles.
Expectations from the People of Nimba County:
In the words of the Works Ministry Deputy boss for Technical Services, the people of Nimba will have to fully participate and take ownership of these infrastructural developments in their county. From the people in the towns and villages along the various targeted routes to the County's political leadership and Legislative Caucus, the Ministry of Public Works expects their unquestioned role in ensuring that infrastructural projects in the county especially the Ganta-Yekepa project as well as the Gbarnga-Ganta-Guinea corridor are indeed executed in line with the Ministry's approved standards and international best practices.
Citizens and residents alike are expected to ring fence from theft and abuse the machinery, equipment, tools, asphalt and cement that are going to be used in constructing these roads.
Giving blind eye to projects when they are unfolding is a recipe for disaster and citizens must man up to ensuring that projects meant to positively improve their livelihood ought to claim their utmost attention at all times beginning from the conceptualization stage up to the implementation, monitoring and supervision phases in order to assure quality, durability and value for money.
Where there are issues, the MPW will expect such matters to be brought to its attention so that collaboratively said issues can be timely addressed thus avoiding unnecessary complications and effectively allowing projects to proceed according to schedule and contractual terms and agreement.
Project Benefits and Impact on the livelihood of Beneficiaries:
The project will definitely improve the livelihood of the people of Nimba County and aggressively reduce to the barest minimum seasonal inaccessibility due to heavy rainfall during the rainy season. With modern road network, the people of Nimba can be best assured that no more will their farm products get spoiled due to bad road.
Huge transportation fares will become something of the past while goods, services and people will be able to get to desired destination in a timely fashion, thus improving the quality of life for all Nimbaians and residents alike.
Psychologically, belonging to a county with modern road network in a post conflict country indeed adds value and is in more ways than one, a morale booster; a sort of mental assurance that the future is yet loaded with life changing opportunities that have been so long denied to the good people of this country since the formation of the Liberian state.
Project Specific Details:
The total value of the project is US $ 40M dollars which is being provided by Arcelor Mittal Liberia while the government's infrastructural arm the Ministry of Public Works is the project implementer. The Infrastructure Implementation Unit (IIU) at the MPW will tender, procure, contract, monitor and supervise the Ganta-Yekepa asphalt pavement project.
A total of 69 Kilometers will be fully designed and asphalted in line with approved standards and international best practices with appropriate bridges, drainages and signages constructed.
The project duration is three years or at best 36 months and physical work is set to commence this October 2013.
In terms of job creation, the project on the whole is expected to improve the outlook for youth and women employment by creating some 2,000 short to medium terms jobs as well as well increase the volume of trade in the county.