By Alva M. Wolokolie
Hundreds of residents in the Township of Caldwell were in a jubilant mood yesterday when the Ministry of Public Works and a Chinese contracting entity, China Henan International Cooperation Group Company Limited (CHICO) signed an agreement to construct the new Caldwell Bridge at a value of US$8.3m.
The source of funding is a grant to the Liberia Reconstruction Trust Fund (LRTF) organized by the government for international partners to do direct deposit of money to assist with the transformation of Liberia.
At the signing ceremony yesterday, the Deputy Program Director of Public Works’s Infrastructure Implementation Unit (IIU) Emmanuel K. Baker told the audience that the contract’s duration is expected to last for 18 months inclusive of 3.5 months for detailed design beginning the day of the signing ceremony. He explained that the length of the new bridge is about 120meters. Currently the bridge is a one lane structure, in severe state of disrepair and provides primary access between Bushrod Island and rapidly growing areas of Caldwell, New Georgia, Lousiana and beyond.
Giving an overview of the project, Mr. Baker said the bridge also provides access to strategic installations such as the Mount Coffee Hydro and White Plains Water Treatment Plants. Result of expert study reveals that structural soundness is threatened and therefore replacement is required. After completion, he added that the bridge will have a two-lane structure and will serve thousands of residents from those areas that are expected to drive to Monrovia daily.
In a special remark, the Minister of Public Works Atty. Samuel Kofi Woods, II lauded President Sirleaf for the level of development taking place in the country and urged the residents of that area not to doubt the promise of the Liberian leader.
Minister Woods reminded the Caldwell residents that development comes with patience and faith and that the President usually fulfilled her promises to the Liberian people because development is high on her agenda.
“Liberians, what more do you want from President Sirleaf? She promised you and has fulfilled it. She told you that the Caldwell Road would be paved and she did it. She later promised you that a new bridge would be constructed; now she is about to do it. I say to you do not doubt this President,” Minister Woods intimated.
For the Chinese contractor, Minister Woods also reminded them that the Liberian people deserve the same quality of bridge as compared to bridges in Europe, USA, Canada and other parts of the world. He advised the Chinese company to employ other Liberians while constructing the bridge so that they can feel the impact of investment taking place in the country. He also appealed to the residents to collaborate with the Chinese Company and avoid stealing the construction materials.
For his part, the President of CHICO, Ma Peng assured the Public Works Ministry and the people of Liberia that his company will do quality work that would meet international standard.
Also speaking at the occasion was Finance Minister Amara Konneh. Minister Konneh lauded all stakeholders for concluding the arrangement for the construction of the bridge. He said that development is about people’s involvement and doing it one at the time.
Minister Konneh said the construction of the bridge is a result of President Sirleaf’s travels she has made around the world since she took over the leadership of this country. He cautioned the residents to work with government to ensure that the work is done properly and on time. “If the work is not moving the way you want it to move, please contact us so that we can remind the contractor to speed it up,” Minister Konneh said.