It seems all is now set to begin the construction of the Lofa County road come next Dry Season as the Kuwaiti Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) has agreed to make available a US$17 million loan facility to the Liberian government to pave the road from Gbarnga to Medikoma in Lofa County.
The loan agreement was endorsed on Monday, March 21, by the Liberian government, represented by the outgoing Minister of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), Amara M. Konneh; and by the KFAED, represented by Ghanem Sulaiman Al-Ghenaiman, Deputy Director-General.
“We are glad to see this project come to fruition,” said Roland Layfette Giddings, Deputy Public Works Minister for Administration, as the men affixed their signatures to the agreement.
After signing the document, Mr. Al-Ghenaiman said he was glad that the KFAED agreed to support the first section of the road project. The first section begins from Gbarnga, Bong County to Salayea in Lofa County, which will cost about US$80 million.
He said, “We are increasing our support to Africa. The size of the loan is about US$17 million,” the payment would become active in five years’ time beginning March 21, 2016.
For his part, Minister Konneh expressed how pleased he was to sign the agreement, which will finance the first section of the project.
Min. Konneh praised the Kuwaitis for providing a grant of US$1.44 million, which helped finance the feasibility study on the entire 81-km road, which links Liberia with neighboring Sierra Leone and Guinea via Lofa County.
According to him, when the project is done, it will help to improve the living condition of people in both Bong and Lofa Counties as well as those living across the Liberian/Guinean/Sierra Leonean borders.
“This corridor that we are now signing is Liberia’s food passageway; but because of the bad road, our people have remained poor. When we execute this project, our people will be very happy,” Konneh said.
He disclosed that the burden now lies with members of the National Legislature to “make the loan effective.” They are charged with the responsibility to ratify most loan agreements between the Liberian government and partners.
The aim of the project is to enhance the economic and social development of the central region of Liberia, and at the same time, link the country with its neighbors.
The project is expected to consist of construction works to attain an all-weather asphalt road of an approximate length and a width of 7.5 meters with 1.5-meter shoulders on each side, from Gbarnga to Salayea. It will include drainage facilities, reconstruction or rehabilitation of bridges, etc.
The entire project, estimated at about L$9.1 billion (almost US$110 million), is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.
The Kuwaitis’ support represents about 85.5 percent of the total cost of the project. Funding for the project will also come from the Saudi Fund for Development, which will provide 20 percent of the total cost, while the OPEC fund for International Development will loan the Liberian government another 20 percent of the total cost. Another financer, the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development is expected, too, to provide 16.8 percent of the total cost, while the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa will provide 10 percent of the cost.
According to the agreement, the loan will be “for a period of 26 years including five years grace period, and will be amortized or reduced in 42 semi-annual installments.”
The Kuwaiti Fund’s loan has an interest rate at one percent per annum.