Liberia: World Bank On Role in Liberia - Places Emphasis On Scruffy Transport Sector

Years of war have left Liberia with disheveled transport sector and a disfigured road network; thus creating serious impediments to movement of goods and other services. And since the inception of the present, serious efforts have been launched with the help of multilateral and donor institutions to ameliorate the problem.

One of the institutions that has done and is doing so much, based on information available to this paper, is the World Bank, which has provided a very colossal financial support to efforts toward scaling up developments in Liberia.

At a recent press conference, the World Bank affirmed its commitment to Liberia and even said it was working with the Liberian government in identifying projects it will commit financial resources to in the years to come.

Liberia is considering, besides projects already approved and financed by the world bank and other partners, undertaking several cost-intensive projects such as the Ganta-Harper Highway which was begun by the late President Samuel Kanyon Doe as well as the construction of a new capital city, which is an initiative of the current administration headed by madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

During her address to the nation in 2010 and in line with bill put forth by the late Representative Moses Saah Tandapolie and passed by the Legislature, the President announced that Liberia would build a new capital city in Zekepa, the confluence of Bong, Nimba and Grand Bassa Counties.

During her recent state of the nation address a fortnight ago, the president also reiterated commitment to the project, saying the government was working on the blueprint of the new capital building.

However, two World Bank officials in an interaction with the press last week said the bank was working with the government in identifying projects.

World Bank Country Director here in Liberia Inguna Dobraja said the bank was supportive of the government's development drives, committing millions of dollars to several projects such as road and bridge construction.

She said the bank was focusing attention on Liberia's transport sector which suffered the brunt of the years of civil strife, adding "the bank is committed to its assistance to Liberia."

Millions of dollars pumped in by the World Bank through some of its affiliate arms such as the International Development Association (IDA) went to ports rehabilitation, roads construction and many other essential development undertakings.

The IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the World's 18 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa, including Liberia, the world bank says.

Also, Kulwinder Singh Rao of the Transport Sector of the World Bank Liberia Office buttressed the country Director's position, saying "a well performing transport sector is critical in stimulating economic growth and development of any country."

Such engagement, he added, was necessary in a country that has suffered civil upheavals, such as Liberia.

"When the World Bank returned to Liberia following the first democratically organized elections in Liberia, the transport sector focused on immediate needs," Mr. Rao said.

The World Bank is contributing to Liberia's development programs through its affiliate arm, the International Development Association (IDA).

Mr. Rao told reporters that "Liberia's major highways have been or are under full rehabilitation, providing for major commercial and transit routes within the country and connection with other countries in the region."

With financial assistance from it along with other development partners, almost of the major streets are rehabilitated.

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