President George Manneh Weah has broken grounds for the commencement of works for the expansion and reconstruction of the Roberts International Airport (RIA) highway road project to widen the road which he laments has claimed lives of thousands of unfortunate passengers in the 70 years of its existence.
“The RIA Highway has been a death-trap since it was built in the 1940s, during World War Two,” President Weah said during the groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday, 20 February in Unification Town, just near RIA.
The 45km road project estimated by Public Works officials at about US$95m is expected to transform the current two – lane road to a modern four – lane major highway from ELWA to RIA.
President Weah notes that the RIA highway is the most convenient route for movement of people, goods and services to and from six of Liberia’s 15 counties including Margibi, Grand Bassa, River Cess, Sinoe, Grand Kru and Maryland.Additionally, he says some of these counties are hosts to several multinational corporations such as FireStone and Golden Veroleum.
“Let me take this occasion to remind you that road connectivity is a core pillar of my Administration, and it is the function of the Pro – Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development,” he continues.
He informs Liberians at the dedication that his government’s infrastructural development programs have the strong support of international development partners, expressing appreciation to the partners for the support and assuring them of utilizing resources put at government’s disposal for their intended purposes.
According to President Weah, Liberians have given him lots of names as a result of his developmental programs, including “Country Giant,” Talk and Do,” and Feminist – in – Chief,” adding that he has been given a new name called “Bad Road Medicine.”
“They now call me Bad Road Medicine,” President Weah says, adding that he is “very proud of this new title, which depicts me as the antidote to bad roads, and I will do my very best during the rest of my tenure to deserve it.”
Earlier, Public Works Minister Mobutu Nyenpan said by breaking grounds for the ELWA – RIA Highway road project, the people of Liberia can be assured that comes July 26 2023, government will dedicate the road.
“This project has a duration of three years, and it’s expected to be completed and dedicated like we indicated on July 26, 2023,” he says.Mr. Nyenpan indicates that mobilization of financing for this project was initiated and concluded by President Weah’s government.
“We like to make it known that mobilization of financing for this project was initiated and concluded by His Excellency, the President of our Republic Dr. George Manneh Weah,” Minister Nyenpan asserts.
He continues that there has been no funding anywhere, anyplace that was either reserved by past governments or that is being kept in some escrow accounts, adding that the financing of the road was initiated and concluded by President Weah.
“… When completed, the RIA road will be transformed into an ultra – modern four – lane highway with all requisite lighting and road safety facilities and features,” he says, adding that the cost of the project is about US$95m.
He adds that the initial funding is being provided through negotiations by the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development and also from private sector capital.
Vice President Jewel Howard – Taylor and members of the diplomatic corps and Liberia’s partners were in attendance for the ceremony.By Winston W. Parley