Monrovia — President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, at the weekend, dedicated two bridges in Montserrado and Grand Cape Mount Counties respectively, and attributed the initiative to the "handiwork of cooperation between Liberia and Japan".
The Stockton Creek Bridge in Montserrado County, which are two newly constructed bridges (85 meters and 73.6 meters respectively), connects the townships of Gbagloh and New Georgia on Bushrod Island and Gardnersville, respectively; while the Diah Bridge (84 feet X 31 feet) in Grand Cape Mount County connects Tewor District to Porkpa and Gola Konneh Districts, Robertsport and 38 other catchment towns in the area.
Both projects were funded by the Japanese Government through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Japanese Counterpart Value Fund (JCVF).
Two additional bridge projects funded by the JCVF in Grand Cape Mount County and still under construction include the Tallah Bridge and Kaylia Bridge Projects.
These bridge projects are intended to contribute to the socio-economic development of Grand Cape Mount County and make life for the residents more comfortable.
According to a Foreign Ministry release, at separate ceremonies, President Sirleaf, before cutting the ribbons, informed the audience that development, including the reconstruction and expansion of the 13.2 kilometer Freeport to Red-light highway, being spearheaded by the Japanese Government, is the result of building partnerships through global relationship.
"This road, this bridge comes from Liberia's effort to build partnership with the Government and people of Japan."
"We owe it to the leaders with whom we promoted that partnership," President Sirleaf said at the dedication of the Stockton Creek Bridge last Friday, November 24, 2017.
The Liberian leader added that when she, along with government officials visit other countries, they discuss with foreign leaders about Liberia's challenges and progress. "These are some of the things that come from there," she said during the dedication ceremony.
She used to the occasion to extend profound gratitude to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, JICA and especially thanked the outgoing Japanese Ambassador to Liberia, H.E. Mr. Kaoru Yoshimura, for ensuring that the Japanese projects became successful.
President Sirleaf cautioned Liberians that development takes time and requires cooperation.
"When they are building the road and people come and throw dirt in it, thereby obstructing the people from doing their work, which slows down the progress in building this road," she appealed and urged every Liberian to cooperate with all the country's development partners as these developments are intended to benefit them.
Regarding a story in a local daily where someone had threatened the road project, she warned that individual that under her administration, no amount of threat will stop the Freeport - Red-light highway reconstruction.
"This road is too important for the Liberian people. This road makes a big contribution to the Liberian people.
This road is evidence of the love that the people of Japan have demonstrated for the people of Liberia."
She thanked everyone who has contributed to the success of the road project, including members of the National Legislature and the Liberian contractors, who stood by their Japanese counterparts.
President Sirleaf hoped that, as her administration shortly comes to an end, she will leave behind the mark of her handiwork for the next 100 years and that her legacy would stand the test of time.
Speaking earlier, Japan's Ambassador to Liberia, H.E Kaoru Yoshimura said the road will forever be remembered as a symbol of a strong relationship between Japan and Liberia.
Ambassador Yoshimura, who ends his tour of duty in Liberia on November 30, 2017, added that the road and the Stockton Creek double bridges are good examples of high quality infrastructure, which is one of the key targets agreed at the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI) in 2016.
"I consider myself very fortunate to witness the historical event as an Ambassador of Japan," he stressed.
He reminded Liberians that if the dedicated projects are well maintained, they will positively contribute to the lives of the residents for many years.
"It is my request to all of you to maintain and use these projects very well," he appealed.
The Somalia Drive reconstruction project is the biggest Japanese grant-aid project in Liberia that is being undertaken by JICA.
The entire project costs nearly US$100 million and is considered one of the biggest JICA's infrastructure projects in West Africa.
The direct beneficiary of this new four-lane Somalia Drive is estimated at approximately 300,000 people, including road users and residents.
Moreover, the indirect beneficiary would be almost two million people living in Monrovia area; the reduction in traffic time at peak hours will be less than half of the current traffic time; it will also benefit the safety for pedestrians by separating sidewalk, and the decrease of floods alongside the road as the new drainage system will be constructed.
Public Works Minister Gyude Moore, during the dedicatory ceremony, confirmed that 75 percent of the project is already completed and is definite that the entire project will be completed before the contract period expires next June 15, 2018.