Politics News

Gov’t to charge fees for roads

The administration of President George Manneh Weah says when legal challenges are resolved, it will begin the collection of fees for road funds as Liberians’ contribution to roads constructions here.

During the government’s first cabinet retreat in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County last week, Public Works Minister Mabutu Nyenpan said government stands to collect “a minimum of thirty million dollars every year” for [road financing] under the road funds management.

Following his presentation, President Weah expressed hope that “we leave the presentation stage” and move to the implementation stage. The president says he wants no time for expensive feasibility studies and challenges, according to Minister Nyenpan.

The Public Works Minister observes that “most of the roads pavement projects over the years” have been funded or financed by partners with supports from the Government of Liberia.

“But from all indications, the pace at which we are proceeding if we continue with the status quo, we will make no significant change,” Minister Nyenpan warns.

He observes that funding support is not adequate to address acute challenges and deficits that are in the [infrastructure] sector.He announces that the total road financing gap is US$2.6bn today, sounding a warning that if it is kept at a pace where Liberia contributes US$20m for roads every budget year and partners contribute US$129m, “it will take us over 150 years” to be able to pave the country’s entire road network.

According to him, Liberia currently has a road network of approximately 12,000 kilometers (about 7,456 miles) of which he says 94 percent is unpaved.90 percent of the total unpaved roads here are in the rural areas where the masses of the country live, Mr. Nyenpan notes. He laments that Liberia’s current state of infrastructure does not in anyway represent the wealth that the country has in its 171st year of independence.

But he says there are ongoing efforts to provide a redress for the situation, announcing projects that are being funded by government while development partners are also contributing.

He says the Somalia Drive Road project with funding from the Japanese Government is being transformed into four lane, and the first phase is hundred percent completed to be dedicated by 30 May by President Weah.

Mr. Nyenpah speaks of the Fish Town to Harper Road that is 50 percent completed, and the Kalorken to Fish Town Road project which is 20 percent completed.

According to him, a memorandum of understanding for a concession agreement for 503 kilometers of coastal corridor roads has been signed and submitted to the Legislature for ratification.

This stretch which comes from Buchanan, Grand Bassa County through Cestos, River Cess County, Greenville, Sinoe County, Barclayville, Grand Kru County to Pleebo, Maryland County, when completed, would have connected the road being done by the African Development Bank between Fish Town and Harper, according to Mr. Nyenpan.

Government has also signed another memorandum of understanding for the design, construction and supervision of over 400 primary roads in north eastern Liberia, taking off from Tapita, Nimba County to Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County, and from Zwedru to Greenville, Sinoe County, thus connecting the southeastern corridor, the official says.

He notes that government is also involved with maintenance activities, citing the Buchanan to Cestos Road, Ganta to Zwedru Highway to which government has committed US$2m, the Zwedru to Fish Town Road and the St. Paul Bridge to Bo- Waterside Road in the western corridor.

Over the past three months, he says government has completed preliminary investigation of the Kesselly Boulevard to Sinkor Road and a memorandum of understanding has been signed by government for the design and construction of this road.

He reveals that government has also done a technical concept note for the Battery Factory to Crown Hill Road which will go through the Bali Island.

Meanwhile, Minister Nyenpan says President Weah has mandated a fast track of the renovation of the Executive Mansion, adding that it is now 67 percent completed and by March 2019, renovation process would be completed. He says annexes to the Capitol Building will be dedicated in July this year.

By Winston W. Parley

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