‘Gov’t Not Prepared for Distraction’

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The Liberian government is not prepared for any distraction as it resumes its development drive, said Foreign Minister Augustine Ngafuan yesterday at a ceremony during which the Japanese Government announced it was restarting all of its aid projects in Liberia.

The Japanese projects will greatly impact the Liberian economy, including giving an attractive facelift to Somalia Drive, one of the aid projects that the Japanese have earmarked, Min. Ngafuan said.

The Somalia Drive rehabilitation project, which will cost the Japanese US$40M is a 13.2 kilometer stretch beginning from the Freeport of Monrovia to Redlight Market in Paynesville. It will be expanded from its current one lane.

Asked whether the claims of those who have properties along the Somalia Drive have been settled, the Minister stated that those were preliminary issues that the Ministry of Public Works had dealt with. He further stated that the project had begun long before the Ebola crisis halted it so those who had claims had already been settled.

He warned anyone who due to the one-year Ebola crisis had returned and constructed makeshift structures in the main construction path that yesterday’s announcement of the resumption of the Somalia Drive project was “sufficient notice” to vacate immediately as government is no longer prepared to allow distraction.

Earlier, Mr. Kaoru Yoshimura, Ambassador of Japan, said the commencement of Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA) projects in Liberia marked the beginning of more future economic cooperation between Japan and Liberia.

Amb. Yoshimura stated that the Liberian government has demonstrated great commitment to ensuring the wellbeing of Liberians and that his country will continue to support endeavors of the Liberian government to advance its development agenda.

The Japanese Diplomat said the Ebola outbreak presented “a very difficult situation for Liberians and its development partners especially in the areas of project implementation.”

For his part, Mr. Koji Makino, Chief Representative, JICA Ghana Office, announced that JICA is resuming full operations of its projects, including the reconstruction of Somalia Drive in Monrovia and the rehabilitation of Monrovia Power System, which were suspended in August 2014.

Mr. Makino disclosed that between June 15 and 22 a mission team of Japanese consultants, engineers, plant makers and JICA staff from Tokyo and Ghana would be in the country for the purpose of “updating information and then resuming the suspended projects in the earliest possible time.”

“Now Japanese contractors are back in the field, and we will be ready to resume the projects. With continuous support from our counterparts and community members, I believe that these longer term projects will be successfully completed and contribute to the recovery and prosperity of Liberia,” he stated.

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