Road Network is Key to Poverty Reduction -US Envoy

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The development of road networks for greater access to markets and basic social services are cardinal to the reduction of poverty in post Ebola Liberia, United States Ambassador to Liberia Deborah Malac has declared.
She spoke through a proxy, Madam Barbara Dickerson, during a 49 kilometer road dedication last week in Bong County, noting that creating good road networks that connect farms to markets is a key component to fighting poverty.
Madam Dickerson, USAID Deputy Mission Director to Liberia, acknowledged that road investment can create opportunities for the poor directly through employment in labor-based road construction, rehabilitation and maintenance.
“Better roads also mean that people can significantly reduce the inordinate amount of time spent travelling short distances on bad roads. Also, improved roads can lower the relatively high cost of rural transportation, which often strains the meager income of rural dwellers,” said Ambassador Malac.
She lauded the local contractor, Westwood Corporation, for the rehabilitation of the 49 kilometer road in Bong, Lofa and Nimba Counties.
She pledged her government’s continuous support toward Liberia’s reconstruction, noting that the American people are fully behind Liberia.
She commended Westwood Corporation general manager, Samuel B. Cooper III, and other implementing partners for the level of work accomplished.
The local contractor also completed a 36-kilometer project in Lofa and Nimba Counties, which represent 85 kilometers of roads completed under the USAID-funded farm-to-market road rehabilitation project.
The US diplomat maintained that her government remains strongly committed to working with the government of Liberia to achieve the country’s transportation development agenda as outlined in the Agenda for Transformation (AfT), the National Decentralization Policy (NDP) and the Transport Master Plan (TMP).
In remarks, Bong County Superintendent, Selena Polson Mappy, described road connectivity as an important tool in the country’s development and if addressed, “could help boost economic activities of rural dwellers and Liberia in general. She indicated that the rehabilitation of major farm-to-market roads funded by the U.S. government will assist marketers as they commute from one place to another to sell their produce.
Westwood Corporation vice president and administrative manager, Mrs. Agnes Cooper, pledged her company’s staunch commitment to Liberia’s rebuilding process.
According to her, the growth and development of every nation squarely rests on quality roads to support government’s socio-economic deliverables. She said Westwood will continue to contribute to road rehabilitation and construction in Liberia given the availability of modern equipment, engineers and contractors employed by the company.
At the same time, Public Works Deputy Minister for Administration, Roland Giddings, underscored the need for road sustainability across Liberia.
Giddings pointed out that most of the roads are being rehabilitated every year due to the lack of proper maintenance.
He said: “If the country’s road network is to be improved, government and its development partners must employ modern technology such as the Otta Seal process which has been successfully used in other countries. Until then, infrastructure development remains a serious challenge.”

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