Pre-dedicates Somalia Drive bridges
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has celebrated the Government and people of Japan for the ongoing reconstruction of the four-lane quality road, including drainages and bridges on the Somalia Drive. The President said the road infrastructure is a result of building global partnerships and an evidence of the love the Japanese have for Liberia.
The mood of the President on Friday, November 24, at the pre-dedication of the ongoing construction of the Somalia Drive project, repeated her boast of being the only President to build more roads than the country’s past 23 presidents.
Phase one of the Somalia Drive project, beginning at the Freeport junction on Bushrod Island to Red Light junction in Paynesville, is the two separate lanes, which is about 75 percent complete. The road including a bridge is valued at US$50.6 million. Phase two is the rehabilitation of the existing road and bridge, valued at US$46 million – bringing the entire project to US$96.6 million.
In a three-point statement, the President also cautioned Liberians to cooperate with the contractors and not dump trash on the project site to stall the work, indicating that her legacy will always be remembered as standing the test of time.
Japan and JICA
The President said: “This road, this bridge comes from Liberia’s effort to build partnership with the Government and People of Japan. And we owe it to the leaders with whom we promote that partnership – Madame Sadako Ogata of JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency), JICA Representatives here follow in the same manner. The Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe—the relationship with him and the parliamentarians of Japan so when we go there, we will be able to sit with them and talk about Liberia’s challenges.”
She added: “Today, this road comes with this relationship represented on the regional and local level by the Ambassador here. So when we go out to those places, that is what we do to be able to promote what we want to see in our country, so I want to say thank you to the Prime Minister, the JICA and the Ambassador for all the many times they took during the negotiations, because without that, we were not going to get this road and the bridge.”
Cooperation and Japan’s Love
“Development takes time and requires cooperation, and so when they are building this road and people put dirt in there, they thereby obstruct the people’s work. This will slow down the progress they will make in building the road, whereas each Liberian has the responsibility to give the cooperation for the development to proceed,” the President said.
“This road is too important for the Liberian people because it makes a big contribution as evidence of the love that Japan and the People of Japan have demonstrated for the People of Liberia,” she added.
With less than 51 days to end of her tenure, she believes that she has worked and her legacy will forever be remembered, most especially in infrastructure development.
Japan Will Always Support
Japanese Ambassador to Liberia, Kaoru Yoshimura, and the JICA Representative in Ghana, Masachi Yamamato, in separate remarks, assured Liberians that the road and the bridges are durable at least to remain intact for about 100 years. Both men praised the bilateral relationship between the two countries and said Japan will always support the development of Liberia and contribute to the improvement of its socioeconomic character. They noted that the Somalia Drive project is one of their biggest projects in West Africa.