31 March 2014

Liberia: Buchanan Coastal Defense Requires $60 Million - Dep. Minister Sokan

The Deputy Minister for Planning at the Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs Jeremiah G. Sokan has complained to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of financial constraints in the implementation of the Buchanan Coastal Defense project that he says requires about $60 million to get the entire coast done.

The Buchanan coastal defense project is being implemented by the government through local expertise to curtail sea erosion and reclaim the land swept away by the Atlantic Ocean in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County overtime.

Minister Sokan made the complaint when President Sirleaf along with US Ambassador to Liberia Madam Deborah Malac, and other government officials visited the project site along the Buchanan Coast on 22 March to view work done there so far.

Responding to questions from President Sirleaf and Ambassador Malac, the deputy minister Sokan said the cost as it is from all the estimates... will cost $50 million for Buchanan alone to really get a good work done. He stressed that the key thing is that there are businesses in Buchanan, as well as the port... suggesting that the best intervention is to go back to reinforce the breakwater.

In fighting the sea erosion, he said the lasting issue to deal with is the breakwater, telling President Sirleaf and Ambassador Malac that "I learnt that over 35 to 40 years, that breakwater was there and really protected the shores."

Already, he said community residents are coming home along the coast and that they are expressing excitement that they are not moving back, but stressed that what is needed now is to sustain the breakwater.

Displaying the agreement to the project to the authorities, Minister Sokan said UNDP brought international coastal engineer consultants and Liberia provided the engineers from the Ministries of Lands and Mines, and Public Works.

"So all of the work that you see here being done is all local expertise that we utilized," he said. According to him, the government provides the manpower, funding in terms of the equipment, and the compensation that comes along with the employees, among others. He noted that there are currently 20 local casual workers on the project.

Earlier on March 21, the director of project management from the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy, Mr. Marbu Franklin told an interview that the project has gone about 65 percent complete and they were targeting 600 meters.

Out of the 600 meters, he said they have covered about 336 to 340 meters, looking forward to getting it completed to protect the shorelines that he said previously put the City of Buchanan at a loss due to erosion. He said the project first seeks to protect the shorelines and the second phase will give long term sustainability as far as getting the shorelines back.

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