‘Small Example of a Promise Fulfilled’

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It might have cost a staggering US$8 million to have the much publicized Caldwell Bridge that connects the township to central Monrovia and other parts of Montserrado County via Bushrod Island, constructed into a modern two lane bridge. But President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf told jubilant residents that the project is just a small example of a promise fulfilled.
The President told the residents, who had defied all odds to attend the occasion, notably the heavy downpour of rain, that her government had promised them that they would transition from the hardships of commuting on dirt roads that become deplorable during the rainy season and a dilapidated one-lane bridge built since the 1940s to a modern one.
She said the project which was completed with help from the World Bank, has finally made good her promise to them.
President Sirleaf made the comments when she officially dedicated the bridge yesterday at a well attended ceremony. The dedication ends the first phase of the Caldwell road project. The road from Caldwell Junction to Louisiana has been paved with asphalt and street lights installed.
The President, in a joyous mood, lauded the residents for their patience, dedication and commitment in waiting for the project to be implemented. “This project has been a long time coming and we want to tell you thank you for your patience, commitment and dedication because it could not have been possible without you,” President Sirleaf said to a cheering crowd.
Speaking on behalf of the people of Caldwell, Commissioner Alexine Mendscole-Howard lauded President Sirleaf and partners. “We are grateful to God for what he has enabled you and the government to do for us.”
The township was founded in 1825, but Commissioner Mendscole-Howard noted that the community has always been underdeveloped and in a deplorable condition, especially during and after the civil crisis. “But hope came for us when your government promised to provide us an asphalt paved road and a modern two-lane bridge which has transformed the outlook of our township,” the Commissioner told President Sirleaf.
She added further, “This is one thing that we will never forget as people of Caldwell. You have brought relief to us, most especially the students and others, who used to struggle on this bad road through the mud to get to their schools and places of work,” she said.
Outgoing World Bank Country Manager, Madam Inguna Dobraja, said in spite of the many challenges that were faced from the onset of the project implementation she was glad that it was finally completed.
She said the financing of the bridge was part of a much larger transport program the World Bank is implementing together with the Liberian government. “Rebuilding dilapidated transport infrastructure is one of the development priorities of Liberia, she said, adding “and we fully stand behind the government in helping to implement these priorities.”
She added that roads and bridges are important because they connect country and people; they increase access to market and they are essential in providing health and education services in remote areas. This new bridge and the approaching access roads, said Madam Dobraja, will provide primary access to some essential assets.
She disclosed that she had promised she would not leave Liberia until the project was completed. “I’m glad that I have kept the promise I made to myself and my Liberian colleagues that I will not leave Liberia before walking over the Caldwell Bridge,” she said.
The residents, prior to the arrival of the President in their township, had trooped in their numbers to witness the dedication of the bridge named the Jake Melton Bridge. Many held placards that expressed their appreciation to the President and her government.
Many of the residents said that the completion of the Caldwell project is a clear indication that much could have come if the President had time in her favor and the people with the right attitudes (those that make things happen) around the President.
The newly constructed Jake Melton Bridge is built over the Stockton Creek and is 110 and 13 meters in length and width, respectively. It was constructed by Chinese construction company China Henan International Cooperation Group Co., Ltd (CHICO) with consultancy provided by PHOENIX-G.A.S.H Engineer from Israel. Funds for the project were provided by the World Bank.
The bridge also provides important primary access to the White Plains Water Treatment facility and the Mount Coffee Hydroelectric Generation Plant. It also serves as a by-pass around Monrovia for the traffic connecting the Freeport intersection on Bushrod Island and the ever busy and congested commercial district of Red-Light.
The Stockton Creek over which the bridge is erected is about 100 meters wide and flows from the Johnson Street area in Central Monrovia at its Southern end to the St. Paul River, at its northern end.
According to the engineers, the area is flat at about five meters above sea level at its western bank and plus four meters at its eastern bank.

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