Deputy Public Works Minister for Rural Development and Community Services Jackson N. Paye has insisted that quality rural road network remains a major priority of the infrastructure Ministry and cautioned road contractors to produce nothing but the best.
“The benefits of the better rural roads and bridges to the local population are enormous, and those who build them must do so with high standards for these roads to last longer,” Minister Paye noted recently during an inspectional tour of the Agriculture Sector Rehabilitation Project (ASRP) in southeastern Liberia.
Inspecting the projects in Grand Gedeh, River Gee, Grand Kru and Maryland last week, Paye he was fairly satisfied with most of the activities, but demanded improvement on the 27km Zwedru to Zia Town Road as well as other infrastructure projects.
Minister Paye, along with local county officials, expressed concerns over the poor quality of compaction being done by the contractor on the Zwedru to Zia Town Road.
The Liberian Government received a US$ 18.3 million grant from the African Development Bank (AfDB) in 2010 to implement the five-year ASRP, under the auspices of the Ministry of Agriculture through designated Project Coordination Unit. With the project focusing on agricultural infrastructure rehabilitation such as lowland irrigation schemes, feeder/farm-to-market roads and agro-processing facilities as well as office building, the Ministry of Public Works is providing technical services on the infrastructure component.
The Zwedru to Zia Road is a major one that leads to the Ivorian Border and at the same time provides access to over 20,000 inhabitants along the corridor.
The deputy infrastructure boss said rural roads provide better access for farmers to bring their produce to the market, ensure reduction in transport and vehicle maintenance costs, and enhance better access to clinics, schools and other social and medical centers.
He said under the ASRP, maintenance of these roads will provide employment opportunities through paid routine maintenance works generally from the local along the road corridor. “This aspect of the work empowers the local people economically thereby contributing to the Poverty Reduction Strategy of the Government of Liberia.”
The tour which began on Wednesday 13 May and ended on Tuesday 19 May, and included meetings with local officials as well as Agriculture Focal Persons, Feeder Road Engineers, Resident Engineers, and WASH Coordinators of the Counties visited.
During the tour, Minister Paye, along with Mr. Mrityunjoy Ghosh, acting team leader of the Liberian Swedish Feeder Road Project (LSFRP), participated in the pipe concrete culvert installation (PCCI) demonstration project in Ganta, Nimba County.
PCCI is a capacity building program under the LSFRP aimed at providing skills to individuals in the culvert manufacturing industry. Minister Paye implored the five participants in this project to develop entrepreneurial spirit by being self-employed and provide employment opportunities to others.
He asked that women should be encouraged in their line of work so as to empower them. Minister Paye further told the trainees that the skills they have acquired will propel them to seek work with large contractors as sub-contractors for all culvert works.
Nimba County Development Superintendent, Hon. Dor Cooper, challenged the trainees to incorporate their businesses so that the County can legitimately do business with them.
In Fishtown City, River Gee County, the team inspected the Water Management Infrastructure and Swamp Layouts in Jarkarken, Kanweaken, and Flewroken, and discussed issues facing the projects with Ministry of Agriculture counterparts.
The team inspected the water management infrastructure and expressed general satisfaction over the pace and quality of work being done by the contractor.
The team also held discussion with Dr. Anthony Dioh, (acting for the president of the Tubman Technical University) who provided briefing on rehabilitation of the dilapidated dam/diversion weir to reinstate the supply of water to the Philadelphia lowland rice irrigation scheme.
The dam is part of ASRP funded by the African Development Bank. When completed and operational, the dam will facilitate the provision 403,000 cubic meter water 37 hectares of rice.