Bo Waterside Highway Maintenance – a Wakeup Call for Nationwide General Maintenance

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The Bo Waterside Highway is probably the best maintained construction project that survived the civil war.

The people of Grand Cape Mount, Bomi and Gbarpolu counties and travelers between Liberia and Sierra Leone are the chief beneficiaries of this important highway linking our two countries.

The Delegate of the European Union in Liberia, Madam Tiina Intelmann, acknowledged as much recently at the Clay Junction on the Bomi Highway when she inaugurated the project to maintain the Bo Waterside Highway.

She said Liberia was the only country in West Africa that routinely maintained its asphalt highways.

According to the Ministry of Public Works, this corridor, constructed by the in the mid-1980s by Daewoo, a South Korean industrial giant, starts from Monrovia’s St. Paul Bridge on the Monrovia-Virginia, Montserrado border, and ends at the Liberia-Sierra Leone border at Bo Waterside. It spans 116 kilometers.

Public Works said it identified the corridor as “critical for maintenance, trade and social connectivity because it is one of the country’s main trade routes.”

The planning of the maintenance works, which will take five years, started in 2014. It will be divided into two phases. Phase one will comprise continuous maintenance activity involving the cutting of vegetation along the road, cleaning of drainages to prevent rainwater from staying on the pavement during the rains; shoulder restoration and patching of potholes.

Phase two is the initial repair phase, which includes addressing all the critical sections of the road before the end of June when the heavy rains will begin, making it impossible for much work to be done.

The project, which costs US$1,502,295.48, is being implemented by a Liberian firm, West Africa Construction Inc.

While we congratulate the Liberian contractor for winning this important contract, we urge him to follow through with it so that it will be completed in time and with efficiency. In that way he would make a good name for himself and his company and place both in the position to win more local and international contracts. He would, moreover, build a solid reputation for his company and go on to develop a strong and well established construction enterprise that will be remembered as we do the American firm Raymond Concrete Pile and Vianini of Italy. It was Raymond that in the late 1940s built the Free Port of Monrovia and several other major concrete works in and around Monrovia. Vianini built several Monrovia streets and the highway to Totota that lasted from the early 1960s until the war. There are many Liberians who still remember Raymond and Vianini.

We highly commend the EU and its Ambassador Tiina Intelmann for this great contribution to our road development. Almost under the same breath, we urge the GOL to empower Public Works with funding to be able to equip its Highway Division. It was the Highway Division that in the 1950s through the 1970s maintained Liberia’s highways, roads and streets. Unfortunately, the maintenance drastically declined during the better part of the 1980s and most especially during the 14-year civil war when Charles Taylor and the rest of the warlords destroyed almost the country’s entire infrastructure.

The one thing Liberia does not want to do is to depend always on our so-called foreign partners for maintenance of our infrastructure. In every building, road or bridge we build, let us factor in long-term maintenance costs and use the money for that and nothing else.

It is an enduring credit to the Samuel Doe administration that the Bo Waterside Highway was built in the mid-1980s. Let us hope that the reconditioning of this vital corridor will enable it to take us another quarter century without problems. In order to ensure that, however, it must be continuously maintained, as we hope the Monrovia-Ganta Highway, reaching the Guinea border in Central Liberia and built during the Ellen administration, will be so well kept that it, too, will take us through the next quarter century and beyond.

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