Home Economy ‘Steady on Course’… Public Works Minister Optimistic of Meeting Road Construction Deadline Target

‘Steady on Course’… Public Works Minister Optimistic of Meeting Road Construction Deadline Target

by News Manager

By: E. Geedahgar Garsuah

MONROVIA: Public Works Minister, Madame Ruth Coker Collins, as expressed optimism that the ongoing ELWA Junction to Roberts International Airport (RIA) Highway road construction is on course, and assured that the exercise will meet its 2024 completion target.

Minister Collins disclosed that substantial improvement has been made on the road its asphalt pavement will begin before the approaching season-rainy in Liberia.
“For the RIA Highway, we are expecting to do pavement before the rainy season. As a matter of fact, we have started placing sub-base courses on both sides of the road and we are expecting to start from the ELWA Junction up to five kilometers. That’s why you see, we are putting in a lot of time. The three years (for the project) started in September 2021 and by 2024, should be the end of the construction. It is a pre-financed project,” Minister Collins disclosed.

According to Public Works, when completed, the project will be a four-lane-road with street and traffic lights along the route and at intersections, and standardized culvert and drainage systems, among others.
Although Minister Collins admitted that there were several challenges that characterized the commencement of the road project, but averred that mechanisms have been put in place to ensure that road works met its deadline for completion.
Minister Collins named some of the mechanisms put in place to boost the road construction works as increase in workforce, as international specialists on road construction were brought to Liberia with the aim of capacitating local workers.

Speaking on a local radio in Monrovia, Minister Collins added that the ministry has also applied, and continued surveillance methods with the primary goal of ensuring the exact values of donors funding.
Madam Minister said weekly consultations with East International, the company hired to construct the road, with the objective to review challenges and progress made so far have helped in the improvement of the work pace.
The Public Works Minister used the conversation on the local radio, to entreat Liberians to own ongoing roads works in the country. “We are progressing and I just want to talk to my Liberian people that we need to do this together,” she added.
She observes the less number of detours route along the RIA Highway owing to this, she urged motorists to always drive with care and precautions.
According to her, as part of the ministry’s intervention to this safety issue, significant portion of the works are ongoing during the night hours.
She added that this step is also aimed at ensuring that the road job is finalized in the deadline period of 2024.
She pointed out that the issue of citizens and commuters disposing of their wastes along the road that have already been made smoothed remains a major challenge to the contractors.
She expressed fear that if this problem is not corrected, it may affect the project’s completion dateline.
“We want to encourage some of our people to stop putting garbage in places the workers have cleared. This is a serious challenge for us,” she stated.
Minister Collins disclosed that the RIA road project has been set for a five-year period, including two years for “defense and maintenance.”
Providing details on the statuses of other roads being constructed in Montserrado County, the Public Works Minister pointed out that part of the Ministry’s effort is directed at maintenance of the roads.
The Ministry is undertaking a concrete pavement along the corridor from the Freeport of Monrovia to St. Paul Bridge on Bushrod Island.
She disclosed that feasibility studies on the road have already been completed as actual work is expected to start by 2024.
Minister Collins disclosed further that the Government of Liberia has already commenced the first portion of the 100kilometers Ganta-Tappita Road project.
According to her, an approximately 20 kilometers of the road have already been paved, reaching to Saclepea in Nimba County.
She graded the project’s current status with 52% in terms of the work already done. She acknowledged challenges that contractors are faced with.

“We are pushing though we have some challenges. The second one is the 6.2km. The contractor has cleared between 13 to 14kilometers. This gone week end, we told the contractor to go ahead with their work because the road has been a challenge for us. We want to identify those critical areas. We want them to do some maintenance works so that when the rainy season comes, we don’t want cars to get stuck because of bad roads. Besides the rehabilitation works, we are concentrating on maintenance on the entire corridor,” she stressed.

“The next road project is from Tappita to Toe’s Town which is about 40kilometers and we have made completion of the procurement process to vet the contractors to get started. We are talking about 140kilometers already being covered. The next one to reach to Zwedru is about 185km and we are in the process of procuring as the bank is trying to identify where sources of funding will come from. And so, it’s part of our engagement with the World Bank. We are very hopeful to get it started very soon,” the Public Works boss stated.
Providing update on the Lofa Road, Minister Collins indicated that progress is being made at 75%. She said in total, about 49km of the road has already been done.
“We are hoping that the contractor will get finished with the work. Up to date, they have done up to 49km of the road and they have already started preparing for the asphalt pavement a few days from now.”

Minister Collins maintained that as an aged-old country, the Weah led-government is exerting efforts to connect capital cities in the nation, but the high level of rainfall in South-Eastern Liberia continues to pose a challenge to the effective and efficient actualization of these projects.
“There is lots of progress being made and we are very hopeful that in the soonest possible time, we will have a partner that will take full charge of doing the south-eastern roads. But, we have advanced the conversation with lots of partners who have shown a lot of interest.”

Meanwhile, the Public Works Minister has observed that many local construction companies operating in Liberia cannot compete with their foreign counterparts for projects being sponsored by the World Bank in Liberia.
She said about 10 Liberian contractors have consistently admitted that they do not have the capacity to participate in bidding processes for projects being funded by Liberia’s international partners.
Despite this challenge due to the lack of financial capacity, she disclosed that the government, through the ministry has been incorporating local constructors for projects being funded by the National Road Fund.
She said the ministry will continue to find means and avenues to ensure that Liberian constructors are also given preference even though they may not have the capacity to compete with the “bigger companies.”
She added that measures have been taken to ensure that “bigger companies” sub-contract other construction works to local companies operating in Liberia.

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