Monrovia, Liberia - The Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) have signed over US$35 million loan agreement for the Mano River Union (MRU) Road and Trade Facilitation Program which represents the second phase of the Fish Town – Harper Road pavement project.
According to an MFDP release, the project covers 96 kilometers north of Karloken and it includes the construction of a bridge over the Cavalla River between Harper City in Liberia and San Pedro in the Cote d’voire.
Construction on the first phase is ongoing with an overall 18 per cent physical implementation or 17 percent disbursement. The MRU Road Programme intends to help alleviate major road challenges facing the region especially, Liberia.
Speaking during the signing ceremony on Friday, July 15, MFDP Minister Boima S. Kamara thanked the AfDB on behalf of the government and people of Liberia for the loan which he stated will help bring relief to mainly Liberians in the southeastern and Liberians throughout the Republic.
According to him, the loan will help the government of Liberia increase service delivery in a more efficient and effective ways. “The issue of road alleviates some problems ranging from easy access to hospital and education facility to increase trade and agriculture activities in the southeast. It will further strengthen our internal security, especially as UNMIL is drawing down,” Minister Kamara averred.
He highlighted that the project was negotiated as a 100 per cent financing which include compensation to affected communities and persons. “I like to extend our thanks to the African Development Bank for its contribution to the rebuilding process of Liberia, our Agenda for Transformation. I am happy to also acknowledge the implementation of phase one valued at US$52 million,” Minister Kamara noted.
He further thanked Liberia’s Public Works (MPW) Minister W. Gyude Moore for providing leadership as well as the technical team working in the project implementation Union at the MPW and all stakeholders for getting contributions toward the reaching of the agreement with the AfDB.
Minister Kamara then assured Dr. Margaret Kilo, resident representative of the AfDB that the government of Liberia will remain committed to working with the bank.
For her part, the Resident Representative of the AfDB Dr. Margret Kilo noted that the bank has since honored the government of Liberia’s request for 100 per cent financing which includes compensation of project affected persons.
She indicated that, “However to facilitate smooth commencement of the phase 2 of the project, the government should ensure that procurement process for Civil Works and Civil Works Supervision Service are completed by 31st August 2016.”
She further called for the revision of the Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) Re-Verification Report which, she said needs to be finalized, as the project will pave the way for the Compensation of Programme Affected Persons (PAPS).
“The project has been prepared as part of a Mano River Union Initiative which is designed to increase trade and interconnection throughout the region-Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea and Liberia, when the full stretch of the road from Harper to Ganta is fully paved. This will help address the underlying causes of the region‘s fragility, one of which was made evident during the Ebola outbreak.” Dr. Kilo noted.
According to her, the project was appraised and negotiated during the peak of the Ebola outbreak and thus call for the government and AfDB to take extraordinary measures to ensure that preparations are enhanced as scheduled, especially when it was impossible to travel into Liberia from the Bank Headquarters in Abidjan as officials had to manage with video conference facilities.
“We appreciate the very strong collaboration with the government during a very difficult period in our history. To continue on the schedule for this project, we look forward to rapid Ratification by the Legislature, much like the first phase of the project, which was ratified in less than one week,” she maintained.
Meanwhile, Liberia’s Public Works Minister Gyude Moore has expressed appreciation to the Bank and said he was happy to have witnessed the signing ceremony.
According to him, as part of implementation of the Poverty Reduction Strategy of Liberia, the government recognized infrastructure development as major priority.
Minister Moore who reiterated government’s own plan to connect the country with regional boarders, maintained “As such to have witnessed the signing of an agreement of the MRU Road Programme which includes the construction of not only the Fish Town-Harper Road but the building of a major bridge that is expected to connect Liberia with Ivory Coast is a great step in the right direction for the country.”