The Senegalese Road Construction firm, Compagnie Saheliane D’Enterprise/CSE, continues its construction project of Ganta to Yekepa Road despite the state of emergency in the midst of deadly Coronavirus.
Beginning from Gbedin is a long stretch of asphalt paved road coming to Ganta, and the main construction work is now concentrated from the Ganta Methodist Hospital compound, connecting with the pavement from Monrovia at the Guinea Road Junction.
One of the senior supervisors who spoke on condition of anonymity said their main target now is to connect the pavement from Sanniquellie to Ganta. On the basis of this plan, another group is grading the road from the Sanniquellie ‘Welcome Gate’ coming towards Gbedin, where the asphalt pavement began.
The road work is progressing in line with the lockdown hours, stopping at 3pm daily, but prior to the the state of emergency, the company was working full hours in the day.
“We are targeting to connect from where we began laying the asphalt or coal-tar and then, afterward, we will continue the work to Sanniquellie,” the supervisor said.
The design of the road is yet to be made public by the company but, by a look at the current width entering Ganta, it does not appear to be wide enough to accommodate the creation of a sidewalk.
“We are still waiting to see how modern this road will be, because all the properties marked for removal are still in place. If they are not removed, the road will certainly be narrow, especially in the city area,” said a former employee of the Ministry of Public Works.
Efforts to get an official statement from CSE did not materialize as the company does not speak to the press according to the contractual agreement between it and the government.
“Only the government through the Ministry of Public Works can speak for the company; this is why they could not speak on all the difficulties they have been going through,” a source close to the company said on condition of anonymity.
The construction of this stretch of road was earmarked in 2007 as a birthday gift to former Ellen John Sirleaf when Lakshmi Mittal, CEO of ArcelorMittal, visited Liberia.
Upon the pronouncement, the road work was put up for bid and the Senegalese Company won the bid and brought in all the necessary equipment for the work since 2012, but the entire work came to a standstill due to the government’s inability to make available funds it was obligated to provide.
Additionally, the project became inactive due to the fall in price of iron ore a few years back, which consequently tied ArcelorMittal’s hands to provide its share of the funds.
In 2017 the company could not pay all of the US$1.5 million it is obliged to give Nimba due to this economic meltdown, but paid US$750,000 to the government without the consent of the Nimba Legislative Caucus; something that Nimba County District #8 Representative, Larry P. Younquoi, said they will pressurize the government to pay. However, this compounded with payments for other years is yet to be accounted for.
In June 2018, President George Weah visited Ganta and broke ground for recommencement of the road project that began partially in 2014 and, following the visitation the road work was resumed until today.
If it continues at the pace it is, one can predict that CSE will complete the laying of asphalt on a half portion of road between Ganta and Sanniquellie before the next dry season.