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Govt. signs US$72m road project

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Finance NDThe Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning has signed a contract worth $72 million for the Gbarnga-Mendikorma Highway construction project in the country.

Liberia’s Finance and Development Planning Minister, Amara Konneh, Wednesday, September 2nd, hosted a huge delegation of Arab lenders in Monrovia at the inception of their appraisan mission to Liberia over the proposed financing of the Gbarnga-Mendikorma Highway project.

The delegation, which is expected to tour the road project after the signing of various financing agreements later this year, comprises of the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID); the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (ADFD); and the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, respectively.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Minister Konneh said, “To date, the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning has secured the financing commitments, in the tune of US$ 72 million from the majority of our lenders, for the financing of Lot 1”.

He said the paving of the road from Gbarnga to Mendikorma, which is considered as Liberia’s agriculture belt, will improve accessibility of roads all year round plus connectivity of roads and bridges between Gbarnga and Mendikorma, reducing transportation cost both in travel time and money.

The Minister added that the project will most particularly increase economic activities with emphasis on agriculture business that will ease access to markets, saying, “This will also significantly improve access to other social service facilities such as health care centers and schools, support gender development and ultimately reduce poverty”.

The Gbarnga-Konia road, which is approximately 137 km in length, is an existing engineered gravel road situated between Bong and Lofa counties. It begins at the Lofa junction in Gbarnga city, Bong County, and ends at Konia town, Lofa County.

It runs through the rainforests of both counties with growing interest among investors to do large scale commercial farming for production of rubbers, cocoa, palm-oil, timber, rice, and fruits. According to the Finance Minister, the strategic intervention in the road transport sector is in line with the growth of constraints analysis informing the development of the Agenda for Transformation, which is Liberia’s medium-term development plan.

He recalled that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf visited the Gulf State of Kuwait in June 2010, during which she appealed to the Emir of Kuwait for support to the roads program. He said that request led to the provision of financing from the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) for a feasibility study, an environmental impact assessment study, a detailed engineering design and preparation of tender documents for the Gbarnga-Mendikorma road link.

Konneh: “Today we are seeing the fruits that historic visit of our Arab partners have responded and the government of Liberia is well on its way to opening one of forgotten economic corridors that is expected to be a game changer in our quest transform he added”.

Meanwhile, speaking on behalf of the Arab Delegation, the Chief Engineer in the Technical Department of the Saudi Fund for Development, Mr. Falsal M. Al Kahtani, said, “We want to thank the Government of Liberia for providing us the opportunity to support their plan for the agenda for transformation and other initiatives in the country”. He said the delegation from the Saudi Fund is committed to helping “our African brothers and sisters in their endeavors. We hope that this partnership doesn’t just be the last but will continue for the future benefits of our two countries.”

By Lewis S. Teh

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