The Senegal-based Compagnie Saheliemae D’Entreprises (CSE) assigned with the responsibility to pave the Ganta-Yekepa road in Nimba County has reportedly abandoned the project.
At the moment, the CSE has reportedly backed off as there are no signs of ongoing work since the beginning of the year.
Reports circulating in the county suggest that the Senegalese road construction firm has backed-off due to what the management claimed was the Liberian government’s failure to make part payment of the money promised for the pavement of the road.
Meanwhile, a youth group under the banner, “Concerned Nimbaians,” said the company has parked all its equipment and are now in the process of leaving the county “due to the failure of the government to make any payment since the company started operations in Liberia.”
A spokeperson for the youth group, Saye Musah, who appeared on a local radio talkshow on Monday, November 14, called on the government to ensure that the road is constructed as planned to avoid causing hardship for the citizens come next year.
The road was earmarked for construction by the government in 2007, following the visit of Lakshmi Mittal, CEO of AcellorMittal to Liberia in October of that year.
During the visit, Mr. Mittal accordingly promised to construct the stretch of road as a birthday gift to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
But the construction could not go on as Mr. Mittal’s promise was met by the global economic meltdown in 2008, from which ArcelorMittal was reportedly highly affected.
Prior to the coming of the Senegalese company in 2015, it was alleged that Mittal had already given the government of Liberia the promised US$40 million for the construction of the road.
In response to claims by Concerned Nimbaians, Superintendent Fong Zuagele denied the allegation that ArcelorMittal had given the government of Liberia money for the road construction on Radio Kehgheaman in Ganta on November 15.
He said the government was doing everything possible to ensure that the road construction goes on as scheduled, noting that the company was not backing-off from the project.
The director in charge of the Infrastructure Implementation Unit at the Ministry of Public Works, Emmanuel Baker, and the Communications Manager of AcellorMittal, Hesta Baker Pearson, are yet to speak on the allegation as their phones rang endlessly when the Daily Observer tried contacting them yesterday.
Meanwhile, the Senegalese road construction company had brought in huge quantities of yellow machines and started with the clearing of the road late last year. It had also built a rock crushing quarry along the highway and carried on construction of culverts and bridges.
For the past two years, CSE managed to maintain the road, despite the heavy downpour, which paralyzed road networks in the country.
In another development, the rehabilitation of feeder roads and alleys in Nimba has come to a standstill as a result of ‘budgetary constraint,’ the county inspector’s office has said.
The local government official who spoke to this paper under the condition of anonymity, said the central government was yet to release the proposed budget passed during the county’s council sitting this year.
“Now we cannot get fuel to continue the work and even if there is fuel, where do we get money to pay the workers?” the official asked.