‘Development Requires Time,’ Pres. Sirleaf Tells Liberians

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A view of the internal road modernization of the Free Port of Monrovia.

-Dedicates internal road and modernization project at the NPA

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has said that development in every country requires time and cannot happen overnight, as she dedicated the internal road and modernization project at the National Port Authority (NPA).

The project includes the construction of rigid pavements, drainages, sidewalks, streetlights (some as high as 60 meters) as well as parking lots outside the concession area of the Dutch company, APM Terminals, which has a 25-year concession agreement with the National Port Authority (NPA) to manage the Freeport of Monrovia.

President Sirleaf, who spoke at the dedication ceremony on Friday, told citizens that development takes a long time, commitment and dedication, “and takes hard work. It doesn’t happen in any other way.”

“We have come a long way, and every endeavor which we have undertaken; there are challenges not doubt, but my 12-year in power has developed our country amidst huge international donor assistance.

“And the only ones to develop a nation are the citizens of the country themselves. Unless they take responsibility, primary responsibility the country will never achieve its development goals,” she added.

Reflecting on  her ascendancy to the presidency in 2006, President Sirleaf said that the country was undeveloped in all aspects something that allowed her administration to  involve the private sector to accelerate the transformation of the country, including the APM Terminals.

She said the government is also encouraging other private investors and partners to take over some functions of the government, such as petroleum, as in Conex.

President Sirleaf, however, extolled APM Terminals and Conex for their rapid involvement in developing the Free Port of Monrovia that will allow it to efficiently contribute to the country’s economy.

She maintained that the Free Port has improved since the intervention of APM Terminals, which has enabled the NPA management to provide batter services in the direction of to the country’s development drive.

Sirleaf, who has barely a month to handover to the next elected government, urged Liberians to know these things, and blamed local radio stations for not giving much airtime to development issues.

The just dedicated and completed Freeport Modernization project is the latest in a series of projects President Sirleaf has been dedicating in the past few months as her tenure runs out.

Hailing the National Port Authority—“Talk less, do more”– President Sirleaf wished that “all Liberians will take it to heart.”

(L-r) APM Terminals MD, George Adjei, President Sirleaf and NPA Managing Director David F. Williams.

The internal road pavement, something that has not been done in the past 30 years, is expected to address the long-running issue of flooding within the Free Port of Monrovia during Liberia’s rainy season, according to port authorities.

NPA Managing Director David Williams said that the cost of the project has come from the corporation’s coffers, without taking any loans.

He said achieving the project came as a result of  dedication, and commitment to the infrastructure  development of the country.

Williams said the project will enhance the operations of the port as it serves as a gateway to the country’s economy.

He disclosed that the Free Port of Monrovia is now providing 24-hour service instead of the previous 12 hours of operations, adding that the second seaport of Buchanan, which is some 88 miles from Monrovia, is now operating on a 24-hour basis as well.

The NPA boss also disclosed that under his two-year administration at National Port Authority, the Free Port of Monrovia – including Grand Bassa, Sinoe and Maryland – is better of than it used to be, emphasizing that such an achievement was done through the collective effort of the management team.

He further narrated that the improvement of the Free Port of Monrovia will reduce cost making business with the NPA.

The Free Port of Monrovia Modernization project is part of the Sirleaf administration’s development blueprint code-named, “The Agenda for Transformation” under the seaport sector.

Few years ago, the NPA entered into a concession agreement with APM Terminals, which has in recent times constructed a 600-meter quay at the port, which is said to have a 50-year warranty.

The quay project is said to cost US$50 million, and is in line with the Concession Agreement signed by the Liberian government.

The Terminal Modernization project is also said to have cost US$34.5 million.

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