President Sirleaf’s Development Agenda and the Unfolding Realities on Ground

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    An electrician running wire on iron pole in Ganta opposite the CellCom tower..jpg

    President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s second term that began in 2012 and will end in 2017 seeks to foster infrastructural development and other basic social services under the Agenda for Transformation.

    Key on the agenda are construction and rehabilitation of roads, restoration of electricity in throughout the country, and constructions of schools, health centers and public buildings.

    Expectations for development in these areas are high; especially as the infrastructure of the country was destroyed by warring factions for a period of 14 years between 1989 to 2003.

    The President, therefore, giving Liberians the assurance of working with them for another six years in these areas for transformation; opened eager eyes to watch and take her by her words, or disregard her and perhaps anyone that may come after with similar rhetoric.

    Even though critics say they are yet to see the promised developments unfolding, activities around the country show that President Sirleaf’s promises may not go in vain but will yield fruits to give her the credit she deserves.

    Electricity Project:

    For the first time since 1989 residents of the commercial town of Ganta in Nimba County were able to celebrate the festive season under electricity, and for the first time in history people of Karnplay, Sanniquellie, and Saclepea were joined with those of Ganta to enjoy streetlights this festive season.

    The electricity is a joint project implemented by the West Africa Power Pool (WAPP) and it is expected to extend to Grand Gedeh and other counties in the south-east and then to Guinea and Sierra Leone.

    Effort made to contact the Management of WAPP in the Ganta sub-office for the number of customers purchasing the electric power proved futile as those contacted all refused to speak.

    Therefore it is difficult to state how many customers are subscribing to the electricity in the areas they are.

    However, a few customers spoken to on the main street of Ganta said they were quite excited for the electricity and urged that WAPP remains committed to ensuring that light be available as they are also in full gear to pay the bill.

    Ganta is a busy commercial city with business entrepreneurs that are involved in the sale of frozen meat, cold water, and other goods that need preservation.  Moreover, most residents seeing Ganta as one of the fastest growing cities have the euphoria to live flamboyant and luxurious life in their magnificent buildings erected in various locations.

    Therefore, the majority of people there are yearning for WAPP to plant poles along all the streets to enable those residents far from the main street have access to electricity as those living in central Ganta have.

    During festive season and other national holidays, children usually leave the streets of Ganta and Saclepea very soon because of the dark, but 2013 festive season held them outdoor for a long time because of the presence of electricity.

    One major electrical facility destroyed during the course of the war is the Mount Coffee Hydro Plant in the St. Paul River.

    The destruction of this plant has led Monrovia and its environs into darkness and government and its partners are struggling with power generators to provide electricity.  In spite of this effort, it is still difficult as investors and other key institutions including hospitals are unable to get electricity for a cheaper price.

    Predicated upon this concern, the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Administration with assistance from international partners is striving to rehabilitate the Mount Coffee Dam, and Finance Minister Amara Konneh has duly promised that Monrovia will receive electricity by 2015, just a year from now.

    Besides, government is developing plans for mini hydro plants in other parts of the countries including Lofa County in the north-west.

    Road Project:

    Bad road has remained a serious impediment to the enhancement of Agriculture in Liberia.  The worst condition of bad road was experienced in 2012 when the entire roads in the country were damaged during the rainy season.

    Vehicles could not easily travel from the South-east and north-central to Monrovia as a result of the deplorable roads, and food growers could not easily bring their products to the market in Monrovia while consumers in Monrovia could not easily have access, thus increasing the prices of these basic commodities.

    Towards addressing this road problem under the Sirleaf Administration, Chinese companies have begun intensive work on the Red-Light Ganta Highway.

    Companies with sub groups are working between Red-Light and Weala, Zeanzu in Bong County to Gbarnga the provincial capital, Palala in Bong County taking on from Gbarnga towards the St. John River between Nimba and Bong Counties, Dukpuyee in Nimba and clearing from St. John to the Ganta direction.

    Earlier, the Buchanan Highway had been completed and dedicated that transportation fare once in the tone of LD$400 dropped to LD$250. Unlike the past when vehicles took about four hours to reach Buchanan from Monrovia as a result of pothole-ridden road, they now take less than three hours to reach depending on one’s speed.

    The Samuel Kanyon Doe (SKD) Boulevard, the A.B. Tolbert Road, the road leading inside Caldwell and the Duport Road Red-Light bypass are all being completed with vehicles plying them daily.

    The Fish Town Harper Highway in the south-east has also been rehabilitated and expected to be paved with funding from the African Development Bank.

    The Japanese Government also reached US$50 million agreement with the Liberian Government in 2013 for reconstruction of the Somalia Drive beginning from Freeport to Red-Light, and this project is expected to commence soon.

    Also underway to begin is the US$40 million road project from Ganta to the mining town of Yekepa in Nimba County.  The fund was provided by the Indian steel company, Arcelor Mittal for the construction of this highway as a gift to President Sirleaf.

    When completed, it will be one major benefit for Liberians in that county as LAMCO extracted iron ore there for 30 years from 1963 to 1983 without paving this short highway.

    Public facilities especially buildings to host key institutions of government remain parts of the enormous challenges to the Liberian Government.

    During the first term of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a major hospital project that cost US$10 million was completed in Tappita, Nimba County.  The Ministry of Health & Social Welfare moved into its own building in Congo Town when the project began by Samuel Doe was completed.

    The Central Agriculture Research Institute (CARI) building, the University of Liberia (UL) Fendell building and many school buildings were erected across the country during the first term.

    In order for the Liberian Government not to be a tenant in its own home throughout, the Sirleaf Administration and the Chinese Government have reached a bilateral agreement in the tone of US$60 million for the construction of a ministerial complex that will host about ten government ministries.

    Also the Samuel Kanyon Doe (SKD) Sports Complex and the Monrovia Vocational Training Center (MVTC) are highlighted in the agreement for rehabilitation.

    The Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) building project began by Samuel K. Doe in the 1980s will soon be completed to relocate workers.

    Madam Sirleaf desire to see all these projects including other unmentioned ones implemented is not only because she is the President and must do them, but also because she promised during the launch of her campaign in Gbarnga, Bong County in September of 2011 that she will ensure to connect Liberia road network, restore electricity, and erect basic public facilities before retiring in 2017.

    Critics of Madam Sirleaf are of the view that the Liberian Government under this administration has not been able to use taxes collected to undertake projects, but funding is from international partners and therefore the achievements cannot be attributed to her.

    However, critics have failed to accurately clarify the doubt as to whose administration these are done in, and through whose diplomatic instrumentality and trust the international donations are coming.

    Even though the Executive Mansion that hosts the Liberian President still lies in debris since it gutted fire on July 26, 2006, and public officials continue to be deluded by titles thus misusing vehicles, playing games on computers during working time, and extravagantly using gas slips and scratch cards without conscience.  Although Liberians entrusted with public positions to serve the country and its people continue to demonstrate mistrust by engaging in rampant corruption that contradicts President Sirleaf’s fight against corruption.

    It remains clear that with objective evaluation Liberians and others will distinctly point out where President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf made progress in accordance with her development agenda and at the same time identify where she fell short instead of wholly discrediting her under a biased influence. 

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