SANNIQUELLIE, Nimba â€“ Compagnie Sahelienne dâ€™Entreprises, a Senegalese construction firm contracted to build the 67-kilometers Ganta-Yekepa Highway in Nimba, is planning to pave 16.5 kilometers of the project before the start of the next rainy season, Nimbaâ€™s resident engineer has disclosed.
The pavement will commence from Miller Village, beneath Tonwin Hill, and run towards Ganta. It is the first pavement the project will see since the Liberian government and ArcelorMittal signed an agreement in December 2013.
According to Resident Engineer Francis G. Carter, who spoke to The Bush Chicken in Sanniquellie on Wednesday, Feb. 26, two construction teams from Compagnie Sahelienne dâ€™Entreprises are currently working on the road. The first team is focusing on the asphalt pavement, while the second team builds up the sub-base section of the road leading towards Sanniquellie.
Close to 8 kilometers out of the 16.5 kilometers targeted has already been asphalted. With or without pavement, authorities at Public Works and Compagnie Sahelienne dâ€™Entreprises are focusing on ensuring that vehicles can drive along the road throughout the rainy season.
The entire stretch of road will be completed in phases of limited pavements at a time, in order to allow contractors to clearly map out the terrain, and fully understand the level of work being done.
According to authorities at the Ministry of Public Works, the stretch of the road connecting Miller Village to Sanniquellie will commence after the rainy season because key segments and structures of the projects are best accomplished when the earth and the surrounding areas are dry, solid, and compacted.
The Liberian government and ArcelorMittal signed a US$40 million agreement on Jan. 25, 2013 for the pavement of the Ganta-Yekepa road. The public works minister at the time, Kofi Woods, disclosed that ArcelorMittal would provide the funding while the Ministry of Public Works would serve as the implementer.
Originally, the project was set to be completed within three years. But it has dragged to over six years since the agreement was signed in 2013. The Longman Engineering Services, a local firm, carried out the highway design, while the construction work is being undertaken by the Compagnie Sahelienne dâ€™Entreprises.
Carter said the lack of finance at the start of the project, as well as the Ebola outbreak of 2014, were key factors that negatively affected ArcelorMittalâ€™s operations and delayed the start of the project.
President George Weah, who has dubbed himself â€œbad road medicine,â€ is intent on the projectâ€™s completion and dedication by February 2022. However, Carter has expressed doubts about this timeline in light of possible setbacks that may arise in the course of the construction.
Meanwhile, Carter has urged motorists traveling along the Ganta-Yekepa road to watch out and abide by all construction instructions and traffic signs along the road. There are already reports that some motorists, particularly commercial motorcyclists, are violating road signs and engaging in actions that may obstruct or endanger workers and motorists themselves.
Featured photo by Jerry Myers