Gbarnga-Salayea Road Key to Local, Sub-Regional Trade

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Finance and Development Planning Minister Boima S. Kamara has reassured Liberians of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s commitment to improving their living conditions through the creation of an enabling environment for domestic and sub-regional trade and commerce through several ongoing road infrastructural projects.

Minister Kamara made the statement last Friday at the program marking the official singing of a US$20 million financing agreement between Liberia and the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) for the Gbarnga-Salayea road project.

He said the Gbarnga-Salayea road is cardinal to boosting trade within the local economy and also fostering regional trade. As such, following its rehabilitation and pavement, local production in agricultural and other services will also improve. “This road is important for our inter-regional trade because it connects Guinea and Sierra Leone,” he added.

Minister Kamara signed on behalf of the Liberian government while the Saudi Fund for Development’s Director General for Operations, Mr. Fawzi O. Al-Saud, signed for his organization.

The program was held in Beyan Town, Lofa County, at the St. Paul River Bridge which links Lofa and Bong counties, bringing together officials from the Liberian government, Saudi Fund for Development, local government officials, and citizens from Lofa and Bong counties, among others.

Minister Kamara described the signing ceremony as one of the greatest moments in the history of Liberia and was in furtherance of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s efforts aimed at improving the country.

“President Sirleaf, also as first female head of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), has been rallying support for the economic development of Liberia and she continues to demonstrate her commitment with less than a year in her administration,” the MFDP boss declared.

He challenged citizens of the two counties to cooperate and provide full support to government and the construction company when the project commences and to serve as security for the materials for the roadwork.

He used the occasion to commend the Saudi Fund for Development for the support, assuring the fund of Liberia’s commitment to stronger bilateral ties between the Government of Liberia and people of the Royal Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Speaking earlier, Saudi Fund for Development’s (SFD) Director General Mr. Al-Saud said the signing program showed the great interest of the Royal Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the Government of Liberia promoting the wellbeing and economic prosperity of Liberians.

Mr. Al-Saud said it also deepens the bilateral cooperation and enhances the friendship that exists between the peoples of the two countries.

“The amount of the loan to be provided under this agreement is 75 million Saudi Riyals, which is equivalent to about US$20 million. This brings the total amount of SFD loans for financing development projects in Liberia to 220.6 million Saudi Riyals or US$58.83 million,” Mr. Al-Saud said.

The project, the SFD Director General said, will reduce vehicle operation costs, accidents, provide road maintenance, reduce travel costs, and will increase agricultural production. In addition, Mr. Al-Saud said the project will create jobs for the locals and contribute significantly to reducing poverty.

For his part, Vice President Joseph Boakai, through a proxy, expressed delight with the signing ceremony, which he said is in fulfillment of government’s pledge to bring the project to reality.

Vice President Boakai said the Gbarnga-Mendikorma Highway project will not only bring great relief to the people of north-western Liberia, but will also open the country to sub-regional commerce and trade.

He noted that the road project will further increase the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Liberia and enhance the free movement of people and goods in the sub-region in keeping with the Mano River Union (MRU) protocol.

The Gbarnga-Mendikorma highway project is estimated at US$430 million. Lot 1 is the stretch from Gbarnga to Konia, estimated at US$184.7 million and is about 137 kilometers, is located in Bong and Lofa counties, while the first section of Lot 1 is from Gbarnga to Salayea and is estimated at US$95.1 million.

Donor commitment for section one of Lot 1, which is Gbarnga-Salayea, is placed at US$82.5 million, while the Government of Liberia’s contribution or counterpart funding is US$12.6 million.

The agreement will be transmitted to the National Legislature for ratification and when completed, the project will make northwestern Liberia easily accessible and accelerate cross-border trade between Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Friday’s ceremony commemorates the fourth signing for funds earmarked for the Gbarnga-Salayea road project.

Over the last two months, the financing agreement with the OPEC Fund for International Development was signed in Vienna, Austria, and financing agreement with the Kuwait Fund for Development was also signed in Monrovia, the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning explained in a release.

A similar ceremony with the Abu Dhabi Fund is expected to take place soon to seal the financial package needed for the full implementation of said project.

The agreements signed by donors and ratified by the National Legislature to consummate this project includes the OPEC Fund for International Development (US$20 million), the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (US$15.5 million) and the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (US$12 million).

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