-- Ministry of Public Works ready to transform the commercial hub from congestion and garbage into modern, paved roads
Acting Public Works Minister, Madam Ruth Coker Collins, says the days of compromise and negotiations are over, relative to her Ministry having the freedom to continue with and complete the road pavement project in Red Light, Liberia’s largest commercial hub.
Speaking with resolute poise yesterday morning on the ELBC Super Morning Show (SMS), Madam Collins said she is confident there will be no confrontation as meetings have been held with the various leaderships of all market sellers making ends meet at the Red Light commercial hub.
“The leadership of the Liberia Marketing Association (LMA), along with all other auxiliaries, has been in meetings with us and we have come to the agreement that it is now time Red Light is freed so we can complete the pavement of the roads meeting there.
“We hope they will be reasonable enough and be law abiding, because, as of Sunday morning; that is from 12 a.m., our machines will be at work there. We will break down every table and clear the entire corridor,” Collins said.
She explained that the necessary conditions are now in place for full business activities to kick-start at Omega.
“It is a process and it costs a lot of money, but the Omega market is now in a better position that we can use as a people. Warehouses, additional latrines and special buckets for solid waste (dirt) management are all in place and, as time goes, the Paynesville City Corporation (PCC) will work on a particular site for trash management so as not to get Omega littered as we now see in Red Light,” she disclosed.
According to the Public Works Minister, there have been so many leniencies and they have given contractors difficulty in doing their job as well as costing government not less than one million United States Dollars a year each time there is lack of access in Red Light to continue with the road pavement project.
“We don’t want people to politicize this. It is about road connectivity. It is about development and that belongs to all of us.
“Last dry season we should have passed through that road but there was no way. This time, we will not let the time go in vain and, as such, we are begging our people to not put up any posture that might require use of force by the State security,” Collins admonished.
The commercial hub of Red Light is a congested business center with lots of different other activities converging, including quasi terminals established by transport unions.
Unlike other countries, Liberia has no modern vehicle parking station or terminal except for the front views of stores and the main roads, in most cases.
About road connectivity, paved as far back as the early 1980s or even before, there have been two lanes each, thereby leading to huge traffic congestion each day. And, vendors have at all times been deliberate in selling directly on the main streets-preventing the free flow of traffic.
Madam Ruth Cooker Collins said it is about time Liberians considered emulating the development-oriented habits of other countries, in their own country.
“The great nations now bearing multiple lanes of roads, including beautiful designs, could not have been achieved if citizens of those countries rejected giving access to the companies [contracted] to fix those roads. Now is the time to sacrifice and tomorrow, we all will be proud of our beautiful country,” Collins noted.
She explained further that there are lots of challenges in Red Light, especially regarding solid waste management, and that her Ministry collaborated with both the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC) and the Paynesville City Corporation (PCC) recently in removing huge piles of garbage.
Madam Collins explained that over thirty five ten-tyre truckloads of garbage were disposed of from Red Light in a few hours recently.
She promised that on Monday July 12, 2021, the entire Red Light will be as clear as a football field.
Regarding other related developments, she said the construction of the overhead or flyover-bridge from the Ministerial Complex to the Samuel Kanyon Doe (SKD) Boulevard will officially begin on the first of October 2021.
She averred that the project, through a Chinese grant of US$50 million, will help ease traffic congestion along the Tubman Boulevard route when completed.
Collins said her Ministry will be inviting all those who have structures in the way of the pending project in order to discuss financial compensation before the project can begin.
“For those who intentionally built on alleys, we will not give you any money because you were not ignorant of the fact that a road is here or there when you built. We are only paying those who are close to the road and we think will be affected by our job,” she pointed out.
Collins added that the Roberts International Airport (RIA) highway project is ongoing well and she is confident the four-lane drive will be ready for use in 2023.
According to the Acting Public Works Minister, also in 2023, the corridor between the Gabriel Tucker Bridge in Vai Town, Monrovia, to the St. Paul Bridge will benefit from full modern asphalt pavement through a US$20 million Japanese grant.
“For now, we will continue to be fixing the broken areas in order to make the road passable, but the real work will be in 2023. There is already a signed deal with the Japanese Government and an assessment will be done on that road next year to come out with a modern design that will be used to pave it in 2023,” Collins said.