Weah Seals ETON, EBOMAF Loans

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President Weah signing the controversial ETON and EBOMAF deals at his Foreign Ministry office in Monrovia

Despite heightened public concerns about transparency and the lack of due diligence done on the two proposed road construction loan agreements, President George Manneh Weah, on Thursday morning 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.

President Weah and his partners, as well as top government officials in a group photo

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.

The audience at the signing ceremony

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.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Congratulation Mr. President for working expeditiously in securing these two loans from little known sources: USD $536.4 million from Eton PLT Finance, LTD, and USD$420.8 million from EBOMAF.

    Analytical questions about the sources of these loans do not mean an opposition to development in a backward country like Liberia. Which Liberian in his/her right mind does not want to see well a developed and prosperous country? These analytical questions are all about the legitimacy of these private investors. We need full disclosure.

    As a democratic institution, it our right to know if due diligence, accountability, and transparency will be implemented from start to finish, or will it be the norm to borrow money recklessly on Liberia’s behalf without doing due diligence just for political expediency? We know time is of essence (only six years to speedily execute your agenda before the next election), but Liberians don’t want to be indebted forever to some unknown financial sharks. There are better alternatives to secure good loans bilaterally out there, explore them.

    I advise you to explore these mega infrastructural development projects listed below that were done bilaterally between China and several Africans countries. Investigate thoroughly how these African countries were awarded so many billion dollar loans, with some grants by China for these bilateral development projects while your government is chasing little known investors and financiers (ETON PLT FINANCE, LTD) for insufficient money and little known road Construction Company (EBOMAF) from Burkina Faso to rebuild Liberia’s dilapidated road that requires huge bilateral or joint venture investments.

    Listed below are some of the billion dollar development projects being financed bilaterally between China and many African Countries:

    1. “Zimbabwe and China on Monday (6/10/18) signed a 1-billion-U.S.-dollar Memorandum of understanding (MoU) for establishing a steel plant that can produce up to 2 million tons of steel per annum.” Source, CGTN Africa.

    2. Ethiopia: Addis Ababa to Djibouti railway project: cost USD 4 billion. Built by China.

    3. Kenya: Mombasa to Nairobi railway project: cost USD 3.2 billion. Built by China.

    4. Nigeria: 1, 400km coastal railway from Lagos in the west to Calabar in the east: cost USD 11 billion. Source, “The Business Year”, “China’s Mega Projects in Africa”.

    5. Congo: Brazzaville Special Economic Zone, built by China.

    6. Angola: Lobito to Luau railway, built by China.

    7. Nigeria: Abuja to Kaduna railway built by China

    There are many big projects China is undertaking bilaterally with several African countries. President Weah’s Government can learn from his African counter-parts on how they are able to attract these huge Chinese investments: financial loans and grants into their countries. Development comes with a cost. We have to do it wisely and strategically.

    There is an adage, “It is better to do business with the devil you know, than the devil you don’t know.” If China, the Country we know, can do it for these African countries, why not let them do it for Liberia, Mr. President?

    On a side note: What development projects can some of these Senior Senators and Representatives cheering loudly boast off in their respective districts since some of them were in office before this new administration came into power?

    How long has it been as I may say, their representation of the poor without development for the poor? We want this President to succeed but do it wisely. I rest my case.

    • A.C; look no further. They’ve already PAWNED Liberia’s Natural Resources; not taking into considerations, the consequences. They’ve approved The “Hummingbird Mining(Resources) MDA-Agreement.”

  2. Thank you sir. It is our belief that there are projects such as: rail systems; airports development in the various counties; sea ports and communications developments are in the pipeline. However, some of us are proud of the direction taken by this leadership under the President, V. President and the leadership in both houses for making this move and down payment for development for Liberia and Liberians in just five months, it is a major effort for a start that is laudable achievement by this new government. We thank the collective leadership for putting the state and nation first….. Leadership at work with peace and blessings. .

  3. Show me any developed and prosperous nation today, and will definitely tell you that there was massive investment in human resource development. President Nixon wouldn’t had gone to China in 1971, if the Chinese had remain a backward nation. It was said that the Chinese were communist and therefore they cannot become a PERMENANT member in the SECURITY COUNCIL. Keeping 1.2 billion people away from the security council bench, was not something that would be wise. Especially so when that nation is making steady advancement in science and technology. President Nixon saw the feature of China brighter, therefore he was fast enough to lured the Chinese toward the United States than Chairman Mao Zedong continue ‘bitter-sweet’ relation with Moscow.

    We can hold our place in the modern world if we can make progress in developing our own nation. If we take loan a import engineers to come and do the job, because we do not have trained man power, we are not helping ourselves. How if we train our man power for feature development?

    • M.B; thanks! I like the last segment of your comments. You’ve made a very important point. We, “LIBERIANS” need to learn how to build our “OWN ROADS”. We’d be better served.

  4. Correction: first paragraph, show me any country today, and will. Should be: show me any country today and I will tell you. Second paragraph, 4th line : if we take loan a. Should be; if we take loan and…

  5. A test of Weah’s government

    In just less than a year after he became president of Liberia, George Weah’s government has managed to have borrowed almost a billion US bucks. According to reliable sources, more money is expected to be borrowed. Does borrowing money at this early stage of Weah’s presidency mean that Liberia is debt free? Of course not. Maybe because of the massive development projects that Weah wishes to undertake, the lending institutions have had no choice but to cave in.

    What are the gargantuan projects?

    Well, the Weah government tells us that the borrowed money will be used for national development, primarily in the area of road construction. Weah believes that good roads in Liberia will ultimately bring about a sustained economic development. Let’s hope Weah is right. During the 1950s when Dwight Eisenhower became president of the US, he called for the construction of major freeways/highways. The American people warmly embraced Eisenhower’s gambit. And yes, during the 1950s, major roads were constructed. The net result of the freeways and highways brought about an econonic bonanza for the US economy.

    US v Liberia:
    When the US road construction projects began in during the 1950s, those projects were undertaken by American engineers. The machinery to construct roads was US manufactured. The contractors were not Germans or Russians, but US citizens. The money that was used to buy equipment was taxpayer dollars, not borrowed from the IMF or other financial lending institutions. There was no theft during those years when the US embarked on road construction.

    Now what’s about Liberia?

    The contractors who will build the major roads in Liberia will be foreign, possibly Chinese. The equipment, engineers, the asphalt, captipillars, etc will be foreign.

    Bottom line:
    The borrowed money for roads in Liberia will most definitely become a test of George Weah’s presidency. If he gets tough, there’ll be no chalatans. But if Weah does not get tough on the contractors and his Liberian friends, he will flunk the test of a good leader.

    The hope is that Weah will prevail.

  6. We need a Monrovia – Bukina Faso railway to ferry goods to Guinea, Chad, Ivory coast, etc. This would reduce the destruction of the roads by those tractor trailers that ferry goods from the Freeport to those destinations.

  7. ERRATUM: I wrote that President Nixon went to China in 1971.
    CORRECTION: He actually went in 1972. I read it some years back, however; my memory didn’t retain it better.
    Thanks

  8. I wish to extend my thanks and appreciation to the president for seeking the development of Liberia, I also want to also recommend to his kind office to help improve the engineer sector of Liberia, allow Liberians to handle their own development problem to build the road is not a problem but how well are we going to maintain the road.Please let empower our brothers and sisters so they can build a modern Liberia.

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