By Morrison O.G. Sayon
The Head of the European Union Delegation to Liberia, Ambassador Attilio Pacifici has praised the Liberian Government for the completion of the Cotton Tree/Buchanan Highway.
The road was dedicated on Monday by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf after it was completed by CHICO, a Chinese Construction Company.
Speaking at the official dedication of the Cotton Tree-Buchanan Highway, Ambassador Pacifici praised Liberia for the progress in adopting institutional reforms to ensure adequate funding for maintenance and efforts undertaken to harmonize the regional legislation in respect of axle load control.
“I understand that draft acts have been already submitted or are about to be submitted to the legislators and hopefully will be adopted even before the agriculture recess,” Amb. Pacifici said.
He added that while good infrastructure is crucial for social and economic integration and development within the country and within the region, a new upgraded transport infrastructure can also be a source of sorrow and pain as a result of reckless driving, particularly over-speeding, and of other violations of traffic rules which will inevitably lead to accidents.
He said further, “I urge the Government of Liberia to put in place road safety measures to address this important issue as well as to hold vigorous campaigns to sensitize and educate road users.”
He said education of future responsible and respectful road users should start at the school.
“Let me also praise the Government for having successfully completed the Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) with the payment (0.87 million) to the people affected by the demolition of structures along the road,” the EU head of dedication averred.
Amb. Pacifici lauded President Sirleaf for what he calls her stance against corruption as demonstrated in the past weeks.
“In this respect, I would like to remind everyone that the LRTF was set up as an interim measure while Liberia would be consolidating her institutions, advancing in Public Finance Management reform and strengthening public procurement. I hope that with continued progress in PFM reform, including public procurement, Liberia will be able in the near future to successfully procure large infrastructure programmes using her own procedures and that increasingly more effective systems will be in place to ensure the proper maintenance of the road network,” he intimated.
Amb. Pacifici further said, “I cannot forget to mention the colleagues from the World Bank to whom the donors I’m speaking on behalf of today entrusted their money to contribute to the financing of this road that we are inaugurating today. This is mostly European tax payers’ money. We must keep this in mind and be ready and proud to show to everyone what we have done with public funds and be totally transparent on how we have used them.
He then lauded the contractor and the supervisor for the excellent quality of the works that have been also timely delivered and expressed hope that along with the improvements of the economic situation in Liberia the capacity and the space for the Liberian indigenous construction industry to carry out these kinds of complex works will progressively increase so that at some point in time, soon, key infrastructures will be built fully by local contractors.
He said the efforts of the road construction started in 2008 in Berlin at the Poverty Reduction Strategy Forum, during which President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf declared road rehabilitation to be the Government’s highest priority and urged the Development Partners to channel funds through the LRTF.
“The Governments of Germany, Ireland, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom together with the European Union and the World Bank responded positively to the appeal and so far almost 180 million dollars have been committed to the LRTF, which also finances the rehabilitation of the road from Monrovia to Ganta and urban sanitation projects in Monrovia,” Pacifici noted.