Ellen Celebrates ‘Japan’s Love, Road Legacy’

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, government officials celebrate roads, bridges under construction by the People and Government of Japan.

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.

Partial view of the reconstructed Stockton Creek Bridge

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.

Ellen’s Legacy

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.

President Johnson-Sirleaf: “we will be assured that our legacy will stand the test of time.”

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.


  1. Indeed, grateful citizens everywhere are happy today in the happiness of EJS and Liberians at home for this much – needed connector from Bushrod Island – via Paynesville Redlight – to the rest of Liberia, including Central Monrovia.

    Once again, we salute and give kudos to the indefatigable Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the government and people of Japan who acknowledged the purposefulness of EJS, regarding this major infrastructural development, and thereby undertook funding and actual building of the road. Undoubtedly, not only will it ease traffic congestion, reduce loss productivity, and already took two hundred Liberians off the unemployment roll since construction started in earnest; upon completion, it is going to boost our nation’s economic recovery.

    With sincerest gratitude, we say – thanks, EJS; thanks, (Liberia’s pal) Shinzo Abe; thanks, Japan; and thank you Almighty God.

  2. Many thanks to Madam President and the Government of Japan for this project. It is a big contribution to Liberia’s infrastructural development drive. Many thanks also to all who prayed a role to get this work done.

  3. “With less than 51 days to the end of her tenure…(Sirleaf) believes that her legacy will forever be remembered, most especially in infrastructure development.” What? Seems too late now to salvage a potential legacy squandered by years of incompetence and corruption… By the way, Daily Observer, could you please check and tell us whether this project is being funded as an outright grant from Japan or a LOAN to be repaid with interest? Thank you.

  4. Brother Peter Kortuwah,

    If this was a loan, you know, EJS would’ve sent the original proposal to the Legislature for approval. Furthermore, that she is this effusive in her praise for Japan ought to indicate the contrary. Anyway, as someone familiar with the inception of this particular project, we can categorically say it was “an outright grant”. But, mind you, even “outright grants” like roads, such as in this case, don’t come totally cost free. For example, there were houses jutting out on the route the new improved and expanded road is being built, the Liberian government had to pay for them, including other expenses. Of course, you don’t want the mechanic friend fixing your car’s brakes for free to buy gasoline so that you can drive off from his garage.

    In other words, let’s congratulate EJS for this remarkable achievement, and the Japanese leadership and people for a great humanitarian gesture to cement a long fruitful relationship between our two countries. Not to mention that Japan has been assisting in other areas since EJS’s presidency, which include electrification, agriculture, public safety (supporting LNP) and so on. This isn’t the time to look a gift horse in the mouth, bro.

  5. When it comes to technological advances and engineering construction, I would prefer hiring the Japanese over the speedy low quality Chinese workers.

    For too long, Liberia has been too dependent on foreign aid for its existence as an Independent Nation. This habit of dependency is corrosive to the development of Africa as a whole….as explained by a fellow African Economist born in Lusaka, Zambia name Dambisa Moyo. She worked for Goldman Sachs as a consultant and the World Bank for many years and obtained her Ph.D. in economics from Oxford University.

    In her book, ‘DEAD AID’, Dambisa Moyo talked about African countries over- reliant on foreign aid which is not sustainable. She writes, “In the past fifty years, more than $1 trillion in development–related aid has been transferred from rich countries to Africa. Has this assistance improved the lives of Africans? No. In fact, across the continent, the recipients of this aid are not better off as a result of it, but worse–much worse.”

    She further stated, “The mismanagement of foreign aid sent from wealthy countries to developing countries has not reduced poverty nor has it increase Africa’s economic growth.”

    This overreliance on aid has trapped developing nations like Liberia in vicious circle of aid dependency, corruption: by creating a cartel of government elites, market distortion and further poverty.

    Liberia and many African countries should wane themselves from this over-reliance on foreign aid and copy the economic models of countries like Singapore and South Korea that went from once depressed economies to becoming highly developed economies. These countries do not depend on foreign aid for sustainability. They became self-sufficient by revamping their educational system to produce skilled workers; they curbed corruption; created jobs; encouraged entrepreneurship; rebuilt their health care system; encouraged savings and investments; rebuilt their infrastructure; and respect the rule of laws.

    If Liberia refuses to develop its economy by creating a suitable climate for foreign investment; refuses to develop its educational system to train skilled workers; refuses to develop its health care system; curb corruption; create jobs; strengthen the rule of law; refuses to develop its human resources; and if Liberia refuses to invest heavily in its infrastructure in conjunction with foreign partnership, no matter who is elected President of Liberia the foreign aid dependency syndrome will continue unabated.

    We need more cooperation with the People of Japan, Singapore and South Korea to help train more skilled workers in Liberia……to reach a level of self-dependency and break the vicious circle of aid dependency as Dambisa Moyo stated. This implementation would have been an accomplished legacy for President Sirleaf to boast of.


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