11 January 2019

Liberia: Gbarnga Broad Street Pavement Ordered Stopped

Due to poor implementation of the cement pavement of Gbarnga Broad Street, authorities of Bong County have with immediate effect put a halt to the ongoing pavement, the county's Assistant Superintendent for Development Anthony B. Sheriff has confirmed.

In an interview with a local radio station in Gbarnga on Thursday, January 10, 2019, Mr. Sheriff said the county leadership reached a decision to stop the road pavement, "because the company that is implementing the project defaulted an earlier plan presented to it."

The project is being implemented by Lebanese-owned construction firm, Sidani Group Holding. The firm took over the project after Chinese construction firm East International pulled out due to lack of funding on the part of the county to continue the work.

"The new company reduced the width of the road from 4.7 meters per lane to 3.5 meters, from the Phebe Parking area to the Star Filling Station," Sheriff said.

"Moreover, the company is using smooth sand, instead of rough sand. Given these reasons, we find it prudent to stop the pavement of the road until we can go back to the previous plan presented by the Chinese," he said.

He told reporters that the county leadership has already communicated the matter with authorities at the Ministry of Public Works (MPW), and the ministry has instructed Sidani Group Holding to go in line with the previous Chinese-made plan.

Portion of road construction project implemented by Sidani Group.

"In March 2017, the project was impeded for the second time, because there was no money to pay the Chinese to commence the second phase after paying US$676,875, half of the total road cost to East International for the first phase," Mr. Sheriff said.

The project was presented in 2016 at a total cost of US$1.2 million, which was provided from the county's social development funds (SDF).

The government recently announced it would complete the pavement exercise, while Mr. Sheriff distanced the county leadership from dealing with East International.

However, Hassan Sidani, Operations Director of Sidani Group Holding, told reporters that, "The project is ongoing, and I don't think anybody can stop it."

A civil engineer student of the Bong County Technical College, Emmanuel Tamata, described the Sidani Group Holding work on the project as "substandard", noting that the previous road built by the Chinese is 16 feet in width per lane, and they used durable materials. But unlike the Chinese, the Sidani Group Holding is using 12 feet 4" per lane with substandard materials.

"As an engineering student, the road built by the Chinese is sturdier and has a longer life span than the one being constructed by Sidani Group Holding," Tamata observed.

In 2018, government promised the people of Bong County the completion of three major unfinished projects in Gbarnga City. These projects were initiated by the administration of former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and include the Gbarnga Broad Street pavement.

It has not been established by this newspaper as to when pavement of Gbarnga Broad Street will resume, as the new company has been mandated to present a new plan to county authorities within one week.

Authors

Marcus N. Malayea

Liberia

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