The New Dawn
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
The Governments of Liberia and Japan Monday
signed a US$50 million agreement for the reconstruction and expansion of
the Somalia Drive.
The Monday June 10 signing ceremony followed a Detailed Design
Agreement that was signed in March of this year between both
governments, as Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan signed on
behalf of the Liberian Government while Naoto Nikai, Ambassador of Japan
accredited to Liberia signed for his government.
Speaking after the signing ceremony, Foreign Minister Ngafuan said,
"We consider the Somalia Drive project a landmark because it is a major
artery of Liberia's trade corridor; that is, from the Freeport of
Monrovia to the ever busy Red Light Market.
According Min. Ngafuan it is expected that the completion of this
project will alleviate traffic congestion and improve road worthiness in
Monrovia and its environs, which translate to the reduction of
transaction cost for the production and movement of goods and services,
and ultimately contribute to the overall economic development of
"Upon completion, it is estimated that the traffic time at peak hour
between Freeport and Red Light will be reduced from almost one hour as
of now to about 20 minutes while direct beneficiaries of the project
would be the road users and residents whose population is about 300,000
while indirectly benefitting Monrovia's 1.2 million inhabitants," Min.
The construction is expected to begin this dry season, with full completion expected in three years.
Ngafuan noted that the signing of the Grant Aid Agreement manifests
the overarching theme of the recently concluded 5th session of the Tokyo
International Conference on African Development (TICAD V) held in
According to Nganfuan the conference was titled 'Hand In Hand with a
More Dynamic Africa' which he said fulfills Category II of the Yokohama
Action Plan 2013-2017 that focuses on 'Acceleration Infrastructure and
Capacity Development in Africa'.
The Foreign Minister also extolled the long-standing and reliable
friendship and bilateral cooperation subsisting between Liberia and
Japan, spanning over 61 years, making Japan-Liberia's longest standing
partner in the Asian region.
Ngafuan averred that the immediate resumption of bilateral and
technical cooperation between both countries since the end of the
Liberian civil war has led to the implementation of a number important
social and economic projects in Liberia including the inception of
Japanese Food and Petroleum Aid to Liberia, provision of US$9 million
education grant, the rehabilitation of the Liberian-Japanese Friendship
Maternity Center, the provision of medical equipment, dispatch of
Japanese health experts to Liberia, and the human capacity training for
more than 100 Liberian government officials in Japan.
He also named the utilization of the Japanese Counterpart Fund for
the purchase and distribution of paddy and seed rice to smallholder
farmers, the ongoing rehabilitation of the Monrovia Power System, and
now, the construction of Somalia Drive as other dividends of the
Foreign Minister Ngafuan said, "Liberia's post-war development
success story can never be fully told without recognition of the role of
the government and people of Japan, through the consistent support."
Japanese Ambassador Nikai said he believed that the project will be
one of the symbolic projects which represent the friendly relations
between Japan and Liberia, suggesting that the Liberian people would
consider naming the road the 'Japan-Liberia Friendship Road' once
"The Project requires some levels of cooperation from the nearby
residents. While entreating the local residents to bear with any
inevitable inconveniences, I would also appeal to the stakeholders to
try and reduce the inconveniences to the best minimum level", the
Japanese Envoy added.
JICA Resident Representative, Iamura, said it was the agency's
pleasure to be able to respond to the urgent need of the expansion of
Somalia Drive as the Project "is indeed very meaningful to JICA."