US$1.7M WARFP Fisheries Project in Slow Motion

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A US$1.7 million West Africa Regional Fisheries Project under construction at Robertsport in Grand Cape Mount County is making slow but steady progress.

It was, however, observed that some of the buildings at the fisheries landing site were almost completed, with the Chinese company still putting finishing touches to some of them.

What was also observed at the Fanti Town Community was the large turnout of businessmen and women to buy fish, because at this time of the year not many species of fish are being caught due to the turbulence of the ocean.

At the same time other sources contacted by the Daily Observer on Wednesday noted that some of the workers at the landing site were unhappy over delays by a Lebanese company involved in the construction.

Residents and businesspeople in Robertsport City interviewed by this reporter called on the authorities of MOA and WARFP to exert extra pressure on the Lebanese company to accelerate the work.

Our reporter tried to contact the Lebanese company, but its managers and workers were nowhere to be found at the building site.

The fisheries project is being funded by the World Bank through the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), with the aim of improving the socioeconomic conditions of fishermen and women in that part of Liberia.

According to officials of the MOA and WARFP, two foreign companies were involved in the project’s bidding process, and contracts were awarded in two phases. The two companies are TAP International, a Chinese construction company, and Phoenicians, a Lebanese company. Both companies are based in Liberia.

It is expected that at the end of the MOA and WARFP construction project, fishermen, women and persons involved in the fish business would benefit from storage and preservation of their fish and sea produce.

At present, most of the buildings are nearing completion but due to some delays on the part of the Lebanese company, construction works are at their lowest ebb at the fisheries project site.

According to MOA and WARFP officials, the Lebanese company is primarily responsible for creating access roads, fencing and casting around all the buildings at the fisheries landing site.

The WARFP and MOA officials also added that owing to dire health and education needs of the fisheries community, a nearby clinic is to be upgraded to a health center, and a daycare center is being built for fisherwomen’s children.

The two vital health and education facilities are expected to cater to the critical medical and educational needs of the fishermen, women and their dependants in Robertsport.

The leadership of the Community Management Associations (CMA) of Grand Cape Mount County urged the MOA and WARFP to include them in all discussions and decisions regarding the fisheries communities.

Mr. Charles Simpson, chairperson of the CMA, told the Daily Observer that as future custodians of the fisheries landing site project, their inclusion in all the processes cannot be overemphasized.

Asked about the numerical strength of the CMAs, Mr. Simpson disclosed that more than 15 CMAs are established in Grand Cape Mount County.

He also expressed concern about the use of substandard materials for the construction works on some of the buildings at the landing site.

On the number of fishermen and women in Grand Cape Mount, Mr. Simpson said they number a little over 2,000.

He stressed that future fisheries projects should be given to competent construction companies in order to avoid unnecessary delays, donor fatigue, fear and apprehension.

In an area of the fisheries community, a sanitation crisis is looming and requires serious attention.

Asked how fishermen and women acquire fishing materials, Mr. Simpson said that has been the biggest challenge, given the expensive nature of most of these materials.

“Four months ago, Agriculture Minister Joseph Zinnah and WARFP Liberia’s new Coordinator Yevewuo Subah visited the Robertsport fishing community and disclosed that additional funding for the project had been secured from the World Bank,” Mr. Simpson noted.

“During our discussions with Minister Zinnah and WARFP Coordinator Subah, we reminded them that the CMA leadership wants to be involved in the evaluation and monitoring processes of our fisheries landing site project,” Mr, Simpson concluded.

The main problem with the project right now is with the Lebanese company, which must acquire and bring in materials for the casting of the compound and its roads and fencing the entire project site.

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