The Japanese reconstructing the Somalia Drive route from the Freeport of Monrovia to the Redlight Junction in Paynesville City have announced that the first phase is expected to be completed by July 2018.
This was made known when Mr. Koji Makino, head of Japan International Cooperation in Africa (JICA), paid a courtesy call on Acting Foreign Minister Marjon Kamara recently.
Mr. Makino informed the Acting Foreign Minister that phase one of the Somalia Drive construction and expansion project has commenced. He stated that the project is Japan’s biggest cooperation project in Liberia.
He also provided updates on other works they are presently undertaking in the country.
The head of JICA further noted that Liberia has been a priority country for Japan, adding that the Bushrod Island power project, along with the Somalia Drive project that was temporarily shut down due to the Ebola outbreak, have recommenced.
He told the Acting Foreign Minister that at the completion of projection in August of this year at least 10 megawatts of electricity will be generated to supply Monrovia.
According to Mr. Makino, Japan is also implementing a technical cooperation project in the health sector, which he said has been ongoing for the past month to strengthen the capacity of health care systems in Montserrado County, as well as the country’s health care system, in an effort to contribute to post-Ebola challenges.
Responding, Acting Minister Kamara expressed appreciation for the many bilateral supports that Liberia has received from the government of Japan through JICA.
Minister Kamara said she is encouraged by the level of work done and added that when President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf recently met with high officials of Japan at the World Trade Organization meeting, it was confirmed that the first phase of the Somalia Drive Road has resumed and that Japan was committed to the second phase. She further expressed hope that the implementing period could be reduced so that the project would be done in the shortest possible timeframe.
Commenting particularly on the Bushrod Island power project, Minister Kamara said that it will make a real difference to the lives of the Liberian people, stressing that the power supply would further enhance investment opportunities for Liberians.
It can be recalled that Acting Min. Kamara’s predecessor, former Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan on Monday, June 10, 2013 signed the US$50 million agreement for the reconstruction and expansion of Somalia Drive.
The signing ceremony followed a detailed design agreement that was signed in March 2013 between both governments, as Mr. Ngafuan signed on behalf of the Liberian government while Naoto Nikai, Ambassador of Japan accredited to Liberia, signed for his government.
Speaking after the signing ceremony at the time, former Foreign Min. Ngafuan said that the Liberian government considered the Somalia Drive project a landmark deal because it is a major artery in Liberia’s trade corridor; that is, from the Freeport of Monrovia to the ever-busy Red Light Market.
It is hoped that the completion of this project will alleviate traffic congestion and inspire proper zoning implementation in the areas concerned.