MONROVIA - At long last, the Government of Liberia (GoL) has broken grounds for the reconstruction of the Mount Coffee Hydro Plant.
The Mount Coffee Hydro Power Plant, which was built in 1966, was damaged during the Liberian civil conflict in the 1990s. The Government of Liberia is rehabilitating it at a cost of over US$ 200 million.
President Johnson-Sirleaf led an array of government officials,donor partners, members of the diplomatic corps and a cross section of Liberians to the formal launching and unveiling program of the Mount Coffee Hydro-Plant Rehabilitation Project in White Plains, Harrisburg Township, Montserrado County on Saturday, January 25, 2014.
The Mount Coffee Hydro Electric Power Plant, which is co-financed by the Governments of Liberia, Norway and Germany, in partnership with the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the World Bank, capacity will jump to 80MW once completed.
With the hydro generating 80megawatt during the raining season, the government had indicated that current cost of electricity at $ 0.54 per kilowatt hour would be reduced by half.
In his introductory remarks at the program, the Project Manager of the Mount Coffee Hydro Project Implementation Unit (PIU), Mr. Randall Enns, said: "Construction work has already started and we are well on the way to meeting the December 2015 goal for the first power to be generated from the plant."
While assuring the Liberian government and people, he said the Government of Liberia(GoL) and its partners have decided to speed up the implementation of the project in a bid to meet the December 2015 deadline.
Mr. Enns disclosed that the Owner's Engineering Contract was signed in April 2013 with the Joint Venture of Norplan and Fichtner of Germany.
Following that, Mr. Enns said they immediately started providing support to the procurement process.
"By September of 2012, tendering was already underway for two important contracts, including the Owner's Engineer Contract and the Generating Equipment Contract," the PIU Project Manager stated.
The PIU Project Manager recalled that by August 2013, the Generating Equipment Contract was conditionally awarded to Voith Hydro of Germany, which allowed the company to immediately commence design work.
Mr. Enns mentioned that the formal contract was signed after achieving effectiveness of the financing agreements in October, 2013.
But he was quick to point out that there are three remaining contracts to be procured.
He named them as major civil works, including rebuilding the dam; the hydraulic steelworks, which is the equipment that controls the flow of water, and the substations and transmission lines.
Also making remarks at the program, Finance Minister Amara M. Konneh said, the project was an outcome of President Sirleaf's bold leadership and an important centerpiece of her flagship development agenda, the "Agenda for Transformation."
He described the ground breaking of the Mount Coffee hydro as an important step to bringing power to more people, across the country.
"Part-funded by significant investment from the Government of Liberia and a key element of its public sector investment strategy, it will mean a boost to businesses and light manufacturing industries, increasing employment opportunities." He stated.
Konneh said, the GOL had infused roughly 45 million to the energy sector, a key development priority of President Sirleaf.
"it is very important that we do all we can to ensure Mount Coffee is a success even if we have to cut foreign travels, gas, stracch cards and recurrent spending and save money to invest in project like these," the Finance mentioned.
"For those of our people who need to understand the extent to which this country was destroyed and the bold step we are taking to have our infrastructure revitalize, come to Mount Coffee," he challenged.
For her part, President Johnson-Sirleaf described the formal launching and unveiling program of the Mount Coffee Hydro-Plant Rehabilitation Project as a "really good day" for Liberia.
She thanked international partners and government ministers as well as members of the National Legislature who worked to make the day a reality.
She promised that government will continue to promote the collective spirit of being able to get things done, not only for the hydro, but for all the many development activities that are ongoing across the country.
Besides the hydro, the President pointed out that the river in the area will attract tourists to engage in fishing following the completion of the rehabilitation works, thereby helping to create jobs for people residing in the area.
She recalled that when she visited the Mount Coffee Power Plant in 2007, the road leading to the site was in a deplorable condition, noting that the condition is not the same today.
"During my visit to the site in 2007, I saw the old turbines and grids intact, but regrettably when I came back there in 2010, these things had disappeared," she decried.
Against this backdrop, the chief executive instructed the Commissioner of the Township of Harrisburg, Samuel Miller, to work with people working at the site to ensure that the materials that will be installed do not disappear.