Payee — U.S. Ambassador Deborah Malac officially launched construction of a 'feeder road' from Bahn-Payee-Zuoplay, calling the groundbreaking ceremony the beginning of a major commitment by the U.S. Government to support farm-to-market road rehabilitation in Liberia.
Alongside Ambassador Malac, Liberia's Minister of Public Works, Antoinette Weeks, local officials and farmers all turned a spade of dirt to mark the start of the road's rehabilitation in Nimba County.
In comments to an audience of 350 government officials, women's groups and farmers (April 3), Ambassador Malac said: "Between now and 2018, we intend to rehabilitate up to 500 kilometers of roads. These are farm-to-market roads that will connect agriculture production to commercial centers, helping to keep Liberians fed, and will also connect people to hospitals, schools, and communities."
She said the project is important because not only because the road rehabilitation will make travel easier for local residents.
"Not only are we rehabilitating roads; we are partnering with Liberian businesses to do so - these are Liberian roads rehabilitated by Liberian firms for Liberian development. I am happy to recognize 21st Century Engineering, which won the contract for Nimba County and is here today for this ceremony. I'd also like to recognize S-S-F Entrepreneurs and Westwood Corporation, which are rehabilitating roads in Lofa and Bong Counties, as well as the other Liberian firms, which competed for these contracts and will compete again."
"This activity is about more than the money," she continued. "It's about more than the roads; it is about a Liberian-led future."
Ambassador Malac praised Minister Weeks and her Ministry for being closely involved in the project throughout the process, and said the U.S. Government will continue to collaborate with the Ministry to ensure the roads' maintenance and sustainability.
"The people of the United States stand by our Liberian friends in agriculture and economic development," Ambassador Malac said, "and we reaffirm our commitment to helping Liberia reduce poverty and achieve food security."
The Farm to Market Road Rehabilitation is a USAID/Liberia umbrella activity designed to provide infrastructure support to other USAID projects and to support capacity building of local Liberian construction companies, Architecture and Engineering (A&E) firms, and public sector engineers.
The project is aimed at 1) providing 100,000 people and smallholder farms in Lofa, Nimba, Grand Bassa and Bong Counties with improved access to markets by rehabilitating rural roads in support of USAID's efforts toward food security and agriculture development 2) develop sustainable routine maintenance systems throughout Liberia and 3) strengthen the capacity of the Ministry of Public Works and private sector A&E firms for planning, design, and supervision of construction services of rural roads and bridges.