Meeting the Stars
"Liberia is on the right path in working with its partners in bringing needed reforms and transformation to its people", says Minister Woods.
In September, the Public Works Minister made the assertion in Bokay Town, when he led the World Bank Country Director to Buchanan on Monday.
Min. Woods and delegation made several stops at major locations to assess the conditions of the road networks leading to Buchanan, Grand Bassa County.
The World Bank says it is making US$14 as its initial commitment to the Bokay Town-Buchanan Highway expected to start soon.
The Bank, through its Resident Representative and Country Manager in Liberia, Ohene Owusu Nyanin, made the pledged during the field visit, Monday, of its Country Director Ishac Diwan to Buchanan, Grand Bassa County.
Mr. Diwan expressed satisfaction over the level of work done at the first phase of the road rehabilitation process in Liberia. Mr. Diwan said the first phase of the World Bank sponsored road project connecting Monrovia to Bokay Town Bridge has confirmed earlier commitment by the government of Liberia to rehabilitate major roads around the country.
At the first major stop at Bokay Town Bridge in Grand Bassa County, Min. Woods and Mr. Diwan stressed the need to expand the road rehabilitation to Buchanan during its second phase of the road project.
The Bokay Town Bridge was built by the West African Peace Keeping Force, after warring factions in the Liberian civil conflict damaged it in a bid to grab control of territories.
Mr. Diwan also praised the Public Works Minister for ensuring the acceleration of the road project with its accomplishment expected before September 2010.
Despite the critical road network connecting Bokay Town and Buchanan, Min. Woods and his visiting World Bank team briefly stopped at the Road Maintenance Training Center (RMTC) in Grand Bassa County to inspect facilities at the training center and the prospect to rehabilitate the facility, a Public Work release said.
The Road maintenance Training Center (also known as Camp Mechlin) was established in 1976 to train middle level technicians for the maintenance of the roads nationwide.
Min Woods and the visiting World Bank team later arrived in the Port city of Buchanan, and briefly held talks with Grand Bassa County Superintendent Julia Duncan Cassel.
Briefing reporters at the end of the visit, Min. said assessing the road develops new commitment that will concretize future development for Liberia's recovery, but cautioned the people of Liberia that it will take time and patience in realizing quality product.
He however assured Liberians that the second phase of the road project will recommence come dry season.
"In principle, the assessment visit was positive. We have agreed to embark on several projects including the Red Light-Gbarnga-Ganta-Guinea Border highway and other roads around the country", Min. Woods revealed.
The Minister and guest also visited the Arcelor Mittal and the Buchanan Renewable Energy, and held discussions towards accelerating the development of the nation's infrastructure: road, bridges and public buildings.
Public Works Minister Samuel Kofi Woods and Ishac Diwan, WB Country Director with over sight responsibility in Ghana, Liberia, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone and Guinea, Ohene Owusu Nyanin, WB Country Manager, among others formed part of the Buchanan visit.
Road and bridge rehabilitations are major component of the Liberian government Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS).
Liberia's PRS articulates the Government's overall vision and major strategies for moving toward rapid, inclusive and sustainable growth and development during the period 2008-2011.
The PRS is being implemented between April 1, 2008 and June 30, 2011 (the end of the 2010/2011 fiscal year), meaning its implementations began one year ago.
This period is of critical importance as Liberia shifts from post-conflict stabilization to laying the foundation for inclusive and sustainable growth, poverty reduction, and progressing toward the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the 14-chapter and 188-page PRS document states.
The donor-dependent US$1.6bn program is crafted with four major pillars including Enhancing Peace and National Security (Pillar), Governance and the Rule of Law (Pillar II), Economic Revitalization (Pillar III) and Rehabilitation of Infrastructures and Delivery of Basic Social Services (Pillar IV).
The rehabilitation or construction of roads and bridges fall under the fourth pillar of the PRS, 'Rehabilitation of Infrastructures and Delivery of Basic Social Services.'
Rebuilding roads, in particular, is central to achieving all the government's other objectives, including consolidating peace and security, facilitating inclusion, revitalizing growth throughout the country, building strong systems for governance, promoting physical access to security and legal institutions, and making public and other services accessible to all Liberians.
It is noted that without adequate infrastructure in the country, the ability to create jobs, expand the rule of law and reduce poverty will be severely constrained, increasing the likelihood of return to conflict.
On several occasions, Liberians have put road construction at the top of their major priorities, followed by health, education and employment opportunities. The people believe that once there are good roads and easy movement of vehicles that facilitate trade and other businesses, all other including development and poverty alleviation will follow.
Facts about Road in Liberia
Liberia is one of those countries that have nothing to boast of road network or bridges as in other neighboring countries. To make matter worst, nearly 15 years of war, lack of maintenance and burning down of bridges took the country's road network into colonial epoch.
According to statistics gathered from the PRS document, Liberia's road network totals 6,162 miles; only 456 miles of this is paved, but much of the pavement was damaged or got deteriorated ( as a result of lack of maintenance and rocket/grenade explosions) during the war years which are now being restored.
Primary and secondary literate roads connect the 15 political subdivision including county capitals, districts and chieftaincy headquarters.
Besides, an additional 1,500 miles of feeder roads were originally privately constructed, mainly by logging and mining companies, and particularly by farmers to bring products to markets, but most of them are today non-pliable like other secondary roads in the country, especially in rural parts of the country.
The PRS Approach
Under the ambitious PRS program, government plans to make all primary roads pliable year round, while aggressively opening secondary and feeder roads around the country.
During the three-year life span of the PRS, the government is building or reconstructing 1,187 miles of primary roads of which 1,075 miles will be paved (surface dressing) and 300 miles of all-weather secondary road around the country to connect the headquarters of the 15 counties and other cities.
In addition, 400 miles of feeder roads plus 33 bridges will be built and rehabilitated nationwide during the PRS period.
The Public Works Ministry is fully responsible to spearhead the execution of task mentioned above, and its states that its major goal is to ensure that roads and bridges are pliable and to build capacity for sustained road maintenance.
In its 2008 accomplishments, the Ministry boasted that it was working on a total of approximately 400 miles of road throughout the country. It classified some of the roads as being "completed" while others were still "in progress".
The following is what the Ministry is reported to have accomplished in counties: In Bomi County, 28 miles of roads rehabilitated; Bong County (45 miles), Gbarpolu County (31 miles), Grand Bassa County (29 miles), Grand Gape Mount (27 miles) while Grand Gedeh County's roads were under assessment.
Twelve (12), 48, 34, 47 miles of roads respectively were reported rehabilitated in Lofa, Margibi, Maryland and Montserrado Counties while 10 lines of coverts were installed in Grand Kru County.
In Nimba County 35 miles; Rivercess, 23 miles; River Gee, 24 miles of road were reportedly rehabilitated by the Public Works Ministry while assessments were ongoing in Sinoe County
By no small measure, the completion of these rehabilitation projects would make life better, to some extent, for rural dwellers because they would use these roads to trade their farm produce, becoming economically sustainably.
The Informer (Monrovia)
D. Kaihenneh Sengbeh; Writes
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