the , signed into law, the controversial Eton and EBOMAF SA Loan financing Agreements.
The signing ceremony took place at the C. Cecil Dennis Auditorium at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the presence of top officials of ETON and EBOMAF who traveled from Singapore and Burkina Faso to grace the occasion. Also present was the Foreign Minister of Burkina Faso, Alpha Barry.
Speaking briefly after the signing, President Weah described the deals as two landmark pieces of legislation that were not just enacted by both the upper and lower houses but were endorsed by a larger population.
“I want to thank God Almighty for this glorious undertaking and also want to laud the legislature for ratifying the loan and for their overwhelming support,” he said. “It now gives me a great pleasure, in keeping with our constitution, to perform the presidential endorsement that gives these agreements the force of law.”
The approval of the loans, according to the President, will enable the government to immediately embark on infrastructural projects that are intended to directly improve the living conditions of the Liberian people.
“It is my intention that by the end of my term in office, I will have connected all of the county capitals with all weather roads. This is a promise that I have made to my people, and it is a pledge that I intend to keep,” he noted.
He told the audience, many of whom were members of both Houses, that the construction of the roads is the centerpiece of his government’s pro-poor agenda, which ultimate objective is to lift Liberians out of poverty.
“This is my commitment and it shall be my focus; and this shall be my legacy. And this shall be permanent and perpetual inheritance that we will leave behind when our time is over. These will be for the benefit of the generations yet unborn,” he said.
The two deals will ensure the pavement of 830 kilometers of roads. The EBOMAF SA Loan will cover the pavement of 323.7 km roads including the Somalia Drive via Kesselley Boulevard to Sinkor in Monrovia -16km, Tappita to Zwedru in Nimba and Grand GedehCounties and from Toe Town in Grand Gedeh County to Ivory Coast Border-10.2km road. It includes the 185km road from Zwedru in Grand Gedeh County to Greenville in Sinoe County.
The ETON loan will cover 505.3km of roads including the corridor from Grand Bassa County in Buchanan through Cestos City in Rivercess County to Greenville City in Sinoe County onward to Barclayville City in Grand Kru County -316km road.
When these roads are completed, the President believes firmly that, they will make a significant impact on the economy. Besides enhancing economic growth and development, he noted that it will also bring additional social benefits by providing the citizenry easy access to healthcare, education, employment and other opportunities that will enhance their wellbeing.
Road connectivity, Weah said, makes crucial contributions to economic development and growth. “It also comes with immense social benefits. It (road) has a vital importance in making a nation grow and prosperous, in addition to providing access to employment, health and educational services and enhance the fight against poverty.
“Therefore, I ask for your support, your patience and your understanding as we embark upon the necessary actions that will ensure our beloved country is built,” he said to a very loud applaud led by VP Jewel Howard-Taylor,” he said.
Other intangible benefits that these projects will bring, President Weah also believe, “is that it will make our country a more socially cohesive society and a united populace where citizens can travel and mix with each other more easily—and through dialogue will enhance the prospect of tolerance and stability.”
The President told reporters after the signing ceremony that there would be a three-year timeline for all roads earmarked to be completed. “We will not settle down for four years or more for the completion of roads that are under consideration for construction and thank God Mr. Boukoungou has promised us just that,” he said.
The Minister of Public Works, Mobutu Vlah Nyenpan noted that the deals and their targets represent unprecedented milestones in the history of the country in the quest for socio-economic development.
It is unfortunate that over 94 percent of total roads (11,000 KM) in a country that gained independence 150 years ago to be unpaved—a clear danger to lives and properties, he said. “Such a situation is not healthy for our country and we are endeavoring to change it,” the minister said. When the ETON and EBOMAF roads are completed plus an additional 312 kilometers that are ongoing, it will take the total number of paved roads to 1,150 kilometers. “This will tell us that we are going somewhere,” Minister Nyenpan said.
EBOMAF Group President Mahamadou Boukoungou, who represented his company and a top official of ETON, in brief remarks, promised to do quality work. The two companies noted that the funding for the projects have been sourced and will begin shortly.
Meanwhile, the ceremony was also graced by some top dignitaries including the Foreign Minister of Burkina-faso, Alpha Barry; Vice President, Jewel Howard-Taylor; scores of Lawmakers led by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Bhofal Chambers and the Senate Pro-tempore, Albert Chie. Scores of top members of the cabinent were also present.