By C. Winnie Saywah-Jimmy
The Engineering Unit of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) says it has completed 95 percent on the rehabilitation process on the Kebbah Road as the Public Works Ministry promises to pave the 11.8 kilometers road connecting the Kebbah, Dixville to Caldwell communities.
It is no secret that during the rainy season, residents in those parts of Montserrado County hardly leave their homes due to bad road conditions and over flooded drainages. The AFL Engineering Unit that was trained as part of the military-to military cooperation has brought a significant relief to those residents since the road rehabilitation that started sometime this month.
Explaining to the Vice President, Joseph Boakai, who visited the rehabilitation site yesterday, presented several bags of rice and cartons of tuna fish as a sign of motivation for the soldiers; the AFL Officer-in-Charge of the Kebbah rehabilitation project, Cpt. Abraham Kamara said the work began with limited equipment.
He explained how the Unit envisaged rehabilitating a 3 kilometer-wide road but because of the road edge and need for drainage, it is constrained to rehabilitate 2.5 kilometers wide relative to some of the challenges to the rain, the drainage system, and that houses that are too close to the road; therefore residents fear that their yards could be affected.
Cpt. Kamara also said the traffic has been another constraint because that road is used mostly by trucks and that impedes their work.
He said since the rehabilitation work began, there are requests from the community dwellers that extension be done on their feeder roads off the main Kebbah road that is targeted for rehabilitation but said on the overall; there has been cooperation from the residents.
Cpt. Kamara further informed the Vice President that several sewage companies have buttressed their effort by spilling water on the road to reduce the dust as the work is being carried out on a daily basis; for which he is grateful.
AFL’s Chief of Staff, Daniel Ziankahn said the Engineering Unit had just 42 weeks of training and their works on road projects are part of the soldiers’ patriotic call. He thanked the unit for helping in the construction of ETUs in the country.
The Minister of Public Works, Gyude Moore, explained how the road project cost about US$ 10. 5 million and is part of government’s Road to Health Program in improving access into communities admitting that if the national army had not buttressed the Ministry’s work, the process would have been very expensive for government.
Minister Moore said the Ministry of Public Works will extend the project to the St. Michael community, Chugbor, Chocolate City, Chicken Soap Factory and the ELWA Chucky Taylor Road and even though the Ministry has limitation in its road project, it is contemplating that something could be done on the Johnsonville Road.
Min. Moore said the notice to proceed with the road project has been approved by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning and turned into a contract that must be regularized to begin the work noting, “We cannot complete the pavement of this road even if we start this year. But I can assure you that we will pave this road.”
He thanked the Ministry of Defense for making men available for the Ministry of Public Works’ activities and hoped that the partnership be institutionalized because as the UNMIL withdraws troops, it has to go along with its supply routes.
He said the AFL will be called on to replace UNMIL at some point adding, “We will work together, plan together and deploy together hopefully. While at the Ministry of Public Works, this partnership will remain even if it means to attract support to the AFL in terms of equipment.”
The Public Works also promised to arrange for DSA for the soldiers depending on how it works because going forward the AFL Engineering Unit will complement the activities of the Ministry of Public Works adding that what is being done in Monrovia, same will be done in Kakata and Gbarnga.
Vice President Boakai commended the soldiers and described their work as a collective support to government’s rehabilitation agenda. He also expressed how pleased he was to see that the AFL Engineering Unit acquiring such skills and is making their impact felt in a relatively short period of time.
Taking a tour on the nearly completed rehabilitated road, Vice President Boakai described Defense Minister, Brownie Samukai as an ‘action man’ and thanked the church for offering the soldiers the property to squat so that they work could stay right where the work is going on. He at the same time informed the Ministry of Public Works that so much is on hands to do because the only way to have access to communities is by roads.
He said roads bring education, health and agriculture and the only way to see government move into communities is if there are roads. Meanwhile, the Commissioner of the Bardnersville Township, Sharon Kamara, gowned Minister Samukai as the residents’ show of gratitude and presented a token to the Unit for its tireless work.