President George Manneh Weah has dedicated phase one of a Japanese funded 13.2 kilometer Somalia Drive Road stretch between Redlight and the Freeport of Monrovia. Work on the project began during the administration of his predecessor former President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf.
The first phase of the road dedicated Wednesday, 30 May has two lanes and the next phase for which Mr. Weah also broke grounds immediately after cutting ribbon for the completed phase will also have two lanes and might be completed in about two and a half years.
The amount for phase two of the project is about US$46m, and the total cost for the entire four – lane road project is about US$100m, according to the Japanese who are funding the project.
Mr. Weah made a call to action for the construction of phase two of the project, noting that Somalia Drive also known as the Freeway is a major [route] of a ring of road that surrounds the Capital Monrovia.
He notes that the 13.2 kilometer road is also the main link between the Freeport of Monrovia and the entire country outside of Monrovia that provides access to the hundreds of thousands of people who live on the outskirts of Monrovia.
The completion of phase one of the project according to Mr. Weah is expected to ease traffic congestion and bring new efficiency to trade and commerce and also improvement to the quality of lives of Liberians.
He expresses appreciation to the government of Japan to whom he says Liberia owes a tremendous debt of gratitude, saying the project would not have been possible without Japan’s generous assistance and cooperation.
Though not seen at the program, Mr. Weah also recognizes the foresightedness of former President Sirleaf for her efforts in initiating the project, saying his government will continue to build on what she started.
He appreciated Liberian contractors who worked on the project and expressed hope that the skills they have learned on the job and the experiences they acquired will be useful to many other infrastructure projects that his administration intends to undertake the years to come.
He says when the total project is completed; he understands that there is a requirement to rename the Somalia Drive Road as “Japan Freeway.”
Earlier, Public Works Minister Mabutu Nyenpan reported to President Weah the completion of phases of the project, saying it is of the best standards.
Mr. Nyenpan announced that all required arrangements have been concluded for the commencement of works on phase two of the project which would make it a modern four – lane road when completed.
He says contractors and consultants have assured that phase two will be completed in time with high standards.
A senior representative of Japanese group JICA Mr. Norihito Yonebayashi says construction of the Somalia Drive Road phase one started in 2014 but later interrupted by Ebola.
But he says due to the efforts of the Liberian and Japanese stakeholders, phase one of the projects is fully completed.
According to Mr. Yonebayashi, phase two of the project is about US$46m, and entire project is about US$100m which he says makes it one of JICA’s largest infrastructure project in West Africa.
He says this is not the end of Japanese contribution to Liberia, and additionally notes that the project is not only physically building roads here, but also developing their Liberian counterparts’ capacity.
By Winston W. Parley