The Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Boima S. Kamara, has assured the public that the construction of the Ganta-Yekepa Road will take place this year.
Minister Kamara, who did not say exactly when and how the stretch of road would be constructed, told the gathering at an awareness program of the ECOWAS Free Movement held in Ganta recently that, despite the period of time left for this Sirleaf Administration to expire, the government is still committed of constructing the road this year.
The road has been left in limbo, since September 2016, when the Senagalese road construction company CSE withdrew and began relocating their equipments elsewhere.
While the Minster’s statement was met with a round of applause, there was some skepticism of the possibility of completing the road in less than a year or before the peak of the raining season, something he did not explain.
Earlier, the Acting Superintendent of Nimba County, D. Dorr Cooper, requested the next awareness ceremony of ECOWAS be held in Sanniquellie, the birth place of the OAU, now AU, but cautioned that the road condition remains a challenge.
The Ganta-Yekepa Road came to a complete standstill around late 2016, due to Government’s alleged failure to pay the contractor, the Senegalese Road Construction Firm, “Compagnie Saheliemae D’Entreprises/CSE.”
There had been no sign of road work on the highway, since last year September, creating concern among residents; especially those living around Sanniquellie and beyond.
Rep. Larry Younquoi in an interview with reporters in Ganta last month, said the road will continue, but could not tell when.
He said the 53rd Legislative Caucus met with President Sirleaf and she told them the Arcelor Mittal has not yet given the required amount intended for the construction of the road, but the government was lobbying around to secure funding for the construction of the 40 kilometer road.
“She also assured us that the road work would still continue with the same company, despite the issue of funding,” he said.
There remains some confusion among the citizens over what appears to be a withdrawal of the company from the area, removing its crushed rock supplies, along with some of their machines intended for the road, to another location.
“We are greatly concerned about the construction of this road, because if the company fails to continue the work, the road will certainly become extremely worse than ever before,” said Mr. Patrick Lah, a prominent citizen of Nimba.
The road turned very deplorable, during the 2016 rainy season, but the company managed to maintain the road until the rain was over.
The company began the process of constructing the road in the 2015, beginning with clearing of the road, repairing some culverts and bringing into the country new brand road building machines.
They also built a rock crushing plant, where a huge pile of rocks was crushed, but the work immediately died down last year, after reports that government had failed to pay part payment of their funds into the company account, despite the pre-financing agreement.
Efforts to get CSE’s view remain futile, as the company is not allowed to speak with the press, according to their contract with the government.
Arcelor Mittal, the company that pledged to underwrite the entire project, is yet to make any comment as regards giving the US$40 million to the government, despite all efforts by this reporter to get the company’s side. ArcelorMittal’s communication manager Hesta Pearson told this reporter that the company would give detailed information regarding the payment of the money to the government, but that has not happened.
As Arcelor Mittal is about to commence the mining of Mount Gangra, a virgin mountain within the Nimba Concession, the citizens are getting furious about why it is taking so long, since 2007, when the project was earmarked to be implemented.
The group of Nimbaians, under the banner “Concerned Nimbaians” have been having a series of meetings in Nimba on the issue of the road construction and the mining of a virgin mountain in the absence of the road construction. Other concerns include the usage of the social development funds by county administration.
If the road is not constructed or rehabilitated before raining season, it means that Ganta-Sanniquellie stretch will become no-go area.