Public Works Minister Mobutu Vlah Nyenpan says the Government of Liberia through its partner – Japan International Cooperation Agency or JICA will dedicate phase one of the Somalia Drive road on 30 May.
Minister Nyenpan, accompanied by his deputies, group of both local and international engineers and the Japanese partners under huge police escort toured the road beginning from the Freeport of Monrovia to the Redlight Market in Paynesville City.
Speaking to this paper after the tour over the weekend, the Public Works Minister says the road meets international standards and is one of the best roads constructed in contemporary time.
He notes that it is his responsibility to inspect the road project before President George Manneh Weah performs the dedicatory ceremony on the 30th of this month.
He appeals to marketers to stay off the road to allow vehicles move freely, adding that such practice would help the Public Works Ministry to properly maintain infrastructure.
Minister Nyenpan explains to this paper that the ministry has already put in place mechanism for proper maintenance of the road.Reconstruction of Somalia Drive is the biggest Japanese aide project here, conducted by Japan International Cooperation Agency.
In June 2013, JICA and the Liberian government signed a grant aid agreement for the reconstruction of the Somalia Drive. In November 2016, the amount of the grant was amended to Japan Fiscal Yens JFY5.689 billion or US$50.6 million.
Speaking to this paper also, Mr. Shigeki NAMBA, head of office here says the objective of the project is to ease traffic congestion alongside the Somalia Drive and promote economic and social activities.
Mr. NAMBA says major contents of the first phase of the project include; expansion of the current two-lane to four lanes, construction of two completely new lanes along with the current ones from Freeport to Redlight, covering 13.2 Kilometers and repair of the Double Bridge.
Japan is planning the second phase of the project and another aid grant agreement for US$46 million was signed between the government and JICA on 4th March 2017, bringing the total amount to be spent on the project to US$100 million.
The phase two project and the phase II construction will start this year before completion of the current phase one. When the construction works are completed, Somalia Drive will have completely four new lanes from Freeport to Redlight.
Direct beneficiaries of the new four-lane Somalia Drive are approximately 300,000 people, including road users and residents. Moreover, the indirect beneficiaries would be almost two million residents in Monrovia.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Editing by Jonathan Browne