The Government and the Chinese Road Construction Firm Chongqing International Construction Corporation (CICO) have reached an agreement for the construction of the 39-kilometer stretch of road linking Ganta and Saclepea.
The document was signed by the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Samuel Tweah; Acting Public Works Minister, Ruth Coker Collins; and a CICO official at the highway groundbreaking ceremony held on Wednesday, December 2, in Ganta. A Chinese Embassy delegation, led by Ambassador Ren Yisheng, was also present.
In the overview, the Acting Minister Collins said in early 2018 the government engaged the World Bank and the Liberia Reconstruction Trust Fund for the mobilization of financial resources toward the upgrading of the southeastern corridors, comprising the road segment from Ganta to Tappita (100km) and Tappita to Zwedru (125km), from an unpaved to an asphalt road, connecting these key commercial cities of the Liberian hinterland.
According to Minister Collins, in December 2018, the result of the engagement between the government and World Bank was a formulated program of the World Bank for the implementation of the southeastern road. The Ganta to Tappita section will be implemented through a public-private partnership arrangement with the cost of US$118 million for the road upgrading works and maintenance.
Given the COVID-19 global pandemic, in August 2020 the government, looking at the deplorable condition of the Ganta – Zwedru Road, decided to fund 39km of the road — from Ganta to Seclepea — in the amount of US$30.3 million and the remaining 61km under the funding of the world bank.
The Ministry of Public Works explained the upgrading of Ganta to Seclepea road section, 39km of the Southeastern Road corridor, is the first of the two lots of the stretch of road from Ganta to Tappita, which is 100 kilometers.
The MPW projects the duration of the construction/upgrading works at about 22 months, beginning December 2002, with a defects liability period of 12 months.
Accordingly, the road will be upgraded from an unsealed gravel road to a road paved with asphalt with a carriageway width of 7.5 meters, with 1.5 meters shoulder on either side.
“The upgrading works will begin in Ganta at the intersection of the Suakoko Highway and end at Saclepea,” Acting Minister Collins said.
“Several cross-drainage structures, including culverts, bridges, over streams and rivers are to be constructed along the road, with the design life of 20yr and operational speed of 80 kilometers per hour,” she said.
The ministry also said the second lot, covering Saclepea to Tappita (61km), which civil works will be financed by the World Bank and the Liberia Reconstruction Trust Fund, will be launched in the first quarter of 2021.
However, Minister Tweah said the funding for the construction came from the Government of Liberia through the National Road Fund and about US$5 million will be released to CICO as the first portion of the funding for the upgrading. The work is expected to begin this month.
President George Manneh Weah, in remarks, reiterated the concern of his adminstration to improve their lives through road construction, citing the Ganta the Yekepa highway, the Seikiepah to Loguatuo Border Road and now the Ganta to Zwedru highway.
He said the government will do all it can to improve the roads to boost economic activities across the country in line with the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD).
Speaking for the 54th Legislative Caucus of Nimba, Rep. Johnson Gwiakolo hailed the government for the road and said the construction, when completed, will surely boost economic activities in the county and the country at large.
“When this road is completed, it will reduce the dependency syndrome of begging, because the people will be selling their goods and making their own money,” he said.
“We told you in 2017 let’s vote the CDC led government and we will see more developments that will impact our lives and this is what exactly happening now,” Senator Johnson alluded.
The World Bank Country Manager, Khwima Nthara, reaffirmed his entity’s commitement to working with the Government of Liberia in the completion of the phase-one corridor of the southeastern road, which Saclepea to Tappita road, as well as the phase-two, which is the Tappita to Zwedru road.