The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors on Friday, January 24, approved the total of US$29 million in additional funds for Liberia’s Urban and Rural Infrastructure Rehabilitation Project (URIRP).
The money, according to the Bank, would be used to improve roads and bridges in Monrovia and surrounding rural areas, as well as improve the government’s institutional capacity to manage the country’s road sector.
The Urban and Rural Infrastructure Rehabilitation Project (URIRP) was approved in 2009 to support the government's goal of ensuring that Liberians nationwide have reliable, safe, affordable and efficient transport services by upgrading existing roads, rehabilitating or replacing unsafe bridges and completing roads along the Monrovia-Buchanan corridor. To date, the project has benefitted some 744,980 individuals and provided 90 percent of the rural population in the targeted areas with access to an all-season road.
The additional funding approved by the World Bank’s Board of Directors on Friday consists of the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) credit of US$19.60 million, and a co-financing grant of US$9.4 million from the Liberia Reconstruction Trust Fund (LRTF), a statement issued by the Bank has said.
The LRFT is a multi-donor trust fund for infrastructure administered by the World Bank and supported by the European Union (EU) and governments of Germany, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway and Ireland.
“Liberia has made solid progress in rehabilitating transport infrastructure in the face of daunting challenges,” said Inguna Dobraja, World Bank Country Manager for Liberia. “The infrastructure improvements supported by today’s financing from the IDA and the LRTF, will help to broaden the base of the economy, making Liberia's growth more inclusive and improve the delivery of social services.” She acknowledged the valuable collaboration and coordination amongst LRTF members which is helping Liberia address its infrastructure challenges.
The LRTF financing would finance cost overruns incurred in the rehabilitation of the Monrovia-Buchanan corridor— a total of 56.5 km, which is considered one of the most critical transport links in the country, given that Buchanan is Liberia’s second largest city and key to the country's economic growth. Their contribution would also finance the conceptual design studies of the Ganta to Zwedru highway.
“Boosting access to transport in rural areas and cities, investing in road maintenance, infrastructure and management are key priorities of our work in Liberia,” said Supee Teravaninthorn, World Bank Sector Manager for Transport in the Africa Region. “The completion of these major corridors will continue to improve connectivity to local and regional markets, physically unite the country internally and expand the global reach for Liberia,” Teravaninthorn added.
Friday’s IDA financing would help to rehabilitate critical infrastructure, including the construction of the new Caldwell Bridge in Monrovia, thus facilitating access from Caldwell Junction to White Plains and access to markets, educational institution and hospitals.
The new project financing also covers the construction of a new Fuel Unloading Facility (FUF) in the Freeport of Monrovia in addition to the provision of technical assistance to the University of Liberia, the Stella Maris Polytechnic and Tubman University in support of the overall infrastructure sector institutional capacity building.
“Many poor rural families in Liberia are migrating to urban areas in search of education and employment opportunities,” said Kulwinder Singh Rao, the World Bank Task Team Leader. “Timely completion of road works in and around Monrovia, including the new Caldwell Bridge, would facilitate improved access to key social services, including health and education, for some of the poorest Liberians.”