The plenary of the Liberian Senate has concurred with the House of Representatives on the ratification of a US$536m road financing loan agreement between Liberia and Eton Finance PTE Limited.
Members of the Liberian Senate took the decision Friday, 8 June following a special session held in chambers on Capitol Hill. The passage of the loan worth over half a billion US Dollars by both the Senate and the Lower House comes in spite of public outcry against the deal.
Prior to the senate taking that decision, Public Works Minister Mobutu Vlah Nyenpan had pleaded with Senators to see reason to concur with their colleagues at the House of Representatives.
Minister Nyenpan says the loan brings more developments and total transformation in the road connectivity of the country that is more than 170 years but is without much to see in the road sector.
The government entered into the agreement with a Singapore-based finance institution Eton to fund its coastal road project to connect southeastern counties.
The loan agreement, when put into effect, would see the construction of 505.3 kilometers of paved roads connecting Buchanan to Cestos City, Greenville to Barclayville, and Barclayville to Sass Town.
The project also includes the construction of the Medina to Robertsport road and the Tubmanburg to Bopolu Road in western Liberia, including rest stops and roadside service areas, within 48-months.
Portions of the loan, according to the agreement, would also be used for the construction of a vocational training center in Greenville, Sinoe and mini-soccer stadiums in Harper, Barclayville, Greenville, Cestos City, Zwedru, Robertsport, and Bopolu.
The loan is payable over 15 years with a seven-year interest and principal free grace period. At an interest rate of 1.46 percent, the government is required to pay the principal amount of the loan each year after seven years from the date the agreement comes into effect.
While the lawmakers were mostly concerned about the money being used for its intended purpose, the agreement places a specific restriction to the JVC or Consortium comprising MAEIL Liberia Construction Co., Ltd., a major Chinese Engineering, Procurement and Construction Company as the contractor responsible to implement the projects.
Sub-contractors comprising Liberian-owned and operated construction and engineering companies would however be vetted and confirmed by the Ministry of Public Works in respect of their technical capacities, the agreement says.
In addition to the issue with limitation of the contractor’s selection, the contract also places no responsibility of post construction maintenance to the contractor, as the 247 kilometers Redlight to Ganta, Guinea border corridor constructed under an output and performance-based contract, although both contracts have similar cost of US$1 million per kilometer.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor– Edited by Winston W. Parley