Somalia Drive Project Empowers Liberian Construction Workers

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Japanese contractor officials during a recent tour of Somalia Drive in Monrovia

Averages 250 hires per day until project completes May 2021

A good number of Liberian construction workers who have been working with Dai Nippon Construction, the company rehabilitating the Somalia Drive, have gained knowledge that they could live on, when the project is completed in May 2021, an official of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), told the Daily Observer during a recent visit to the site.

JICA said the project has contributed to job creation and capacity development for Liberian job seekers in the sector. Through phase one of the project, an average of 250 Liberians per day are hired.

“The Japanese company’s experienced staffs have provided various technical training to Liberian workers and have improved their skills and knowledge in the sector,” JICA said. “Liberian workers are able to build materials the company needs for the work.”

JICA said it recognizes that the transformation of infrastructure is highly prioritized by President George Weah and his administration. “The expansion and improvement of Somalia Drive, one of the most congested roads in Monrovia, is the urgent and high expectation of the Liberian people,” JICA said.

A portion of the Somalia Drive road under rehabilitation

On a tour of the company’s facilities and the construction site, a JICA spokesman said the direct beneficiaries of the new 4-lane Somalia Drive road are estimated at 300,000 people, including road users and residents.

“Moreover,” the official said, “the indirect beneficiaries would be almost 2 million people living in the Monrovia area. The reduction in traffic time at peak hours will be expected to be less than half of the current traffic time.”

The new 4-lane road will also benefit the safety of pedestrians by separating sidewalk, installing more than 700 street lights and traffic lights, as well as constructing a new drainage system alongside the road to reduce floods.

Phase 2 of the project, which is ongoing, will include the rehabilitation of two additional lanes. With the kind support of the Ministry of Public Works, JICA said its consultants have already completed their preparatory survey for the phase two construction which has begun but has been interrupted by the unusual rainfall in recent times.

At the end of the project, JICA said Somalia Drive will have a completely new 4-lane road from Freeport to Red-Light.

The reconstruction of Somalia Drive is the biggest Japanese grant-aid project to Liberia, conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), in a grant that was amended to US$50.6 million.

The contractor, Dai Nippon Construction, began the project in February 2014 but suspended its work due to the Ebola outbreak and resumed in October 2015.

The objective of the project, JICA said, is to ease the traffic congestion on the Somalia Drive and promote economic and social activities in the area. The major contents of the first phase of the project included the expansion of the current 2-lane Somalia Drive to a total of 4-lanes, constructing 2 completely new lanes along with the current road, from Freeport to Red-Light of 13.2km; construction of a new Stockton Creek Bridge and the repair of the Double Bridge.

An official of Dai Nippon Construction said the project will be completed in May 2021.

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