Marketers and truckers, obstructing the progress of work on the Somalia Drive road project have infuriated President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf causing her to mandate the Paynesville City Corporation to remove the culprits.
Armed units were brought in to clear the area and keep truckers and marketers away in order for the work to proceed unhindered.
The President, who was inspecting several major road projects yesterday in Margibi and Montserrado counties, appeared quite upset when she saw the Somalia Drive road, which is under construction crammed with marketers and vehicles. Truckers were obstructing the work by using the area as parking lots and sidewalks meant for the company to move its equipment were also being used as garages by some truckers and other vehicle owners.
Marketers, especially water sellers, were also dumping garbage on the road and in drainages while it is also reported that some unscrupulous individuals are stealing crushed rocks brought to the site for the construction work.
President Sirleaf, who appeared angry upon seeing the trucks and garbage along the road, immediately told PCC Mayor, Cyvette Gibson to work with the Monrovia City Corporation’s taskforce to have all of the trucks removed.
The President said, “I want you people to make sure that these trucks are removed from here immediately.” She said immediate action needs to be taken if the contractors are to finish the work on time.
Prior to the commencement of the project, owners of trucks and other property owners were asked to have them removed to give space for the work. People were also paid to remove their structures from along the road, but some of the structures later reemerged after the job was temporarily suspended due to the Ebola crisis.
The Ministry of Public Works Supervisor, Deena Cooper had earlier complained to President Sirleaf that the action of the truckers, especially around the Jacob Town-Black Genie Community, was impeding progress on the road.
Ms. Cooper complained about the level of garbage, especially water plastic bags that are dumped on the road on a daily basis by marketers and residents of communities along the road, leaving contractors to constantly sweep the road to keep it clean.
She said the trucks and human traffic on the road were impeding the movement of construction workers and equipment.
Mayor Gibson said she would ensure that the President’s mandate was implemented to the fullest. Gibson, who said that she heard about the problem a fortnight ago, noted that she was convening a meeting with the staff of the PCC to immediately begin the appropriate action.
The Somalia Drive road reconstruction project is the largest Japanese grant in the country. The Japanese government, through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Government of Liberia in June 2013 signed the project which is worth US$43.5 million. The contractor, Dai Nippon Construction (DNC), began work in February 2014, but the work was suspended due to the Ebola outbreak and recommenced last October.
The road, when completed will ease the traffic congestion along the Freeway (Red-Light to the Freeport of Monrovia) and would also promote economic and social activities. The project is the expansion of the current 13.2 kilometers two lane road to four with the construction of two additional lanes as well as the construction of the new Stockton Creek Bridge and the repair of the Double Bridge that separates the city of Paynesville from the Gardnersville Township.
Other road projects inspected by President Sirleaf included the A. B. Tolbert Road, the extension of the pavement of the Marshall Road, and Police Academy Road.
She encouraged the contractors and workers to ensure that the work is done to bring relief to Liberians.
All of the contractors assured the President that their respective projects are on course, promising to do quality work, although many fears were raised as a result of the rainy season that appears to have begun early.