When President George M. Weah took the podium for the State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the 54th legislature on January 23, he made series of claims on infrastructure, economy, Gender and Covid etc. Critics have condemned while praise-singers have played their part.
We reviewed the Address and will get back to you subsequently as we continue to fact-check claims made by Weah.
Claim: Construction of approximately 500 kilometers of paved primary roads, as well as the maintenance of approximately 4,000 kilometers of urban and secondary roads.
Fact Check: We have reached out to the president press office and will update the report should we hear back.
Claim: Sixty-six (66) kilometers of primary roads have been completed, and construction is ongoing on an additional 365 kilometers.
Fact Check: On 28th August 2018, the Executive Mansion publication “President Weah’s Mandate on Pavement of Feeder Roads Nearing Fruition – As Public Works Seeks Bids”. The publication unveils feeder roads that were ongoing and expected to be done, there is no record that 66 kilometers of primary roads started and completed in the year under review, (January 2020- January 2021).
Though some roads are completed it does not amount to the number stated herein.
Verdict: False- Exaggeration and Debatable.
Claim: 50 kilometers from Harper to Karloken and 16 kilometers from Harper Junction to Cavalla River.
Fact Check: 50 KM road from Harper Kaloken road commenced in 2014 and was included in former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf Annual speech “The first phase of the asphalt pavement of at least 50 kilometers of road that will link Harper to Karloken is scheduled to commence this year – a significant milestone that signifies Government’s commitment, making the southeast section of the country more accessible.” The EOI was done the same year.
True, that the road has been completed.
Claim: Meanwhile, construction works are ongoing on the following roads: 67 km road from Ganta to Yekepa; 47 km road from Sanniquelle- Logatuo.
Fact Check: True, the 67 km road from Ganta is ongoing, it commenced in 2018 including the Sanniquelle- Logatuo road, both roads were mentioned in the 2018 annual address.
The Bong and Lofa corridor, 80 km road from Gbarnga to Salayea, In the South-Eastern corridor, 80 km road from Karloken to Fish Town.
Similarly, funding has been received and preparatory work is ongoing on the 45km highway from Roberts International Airport to ELWA Junction and the 6km road from ELWA to Coca-Cola Factory. A contract has been awarded for a 39 km road from Ganta to Saclepea in Nimba County, see here.
Additionally, complete studies with committed funds are now available for another 131km of roads, and procurement processes are ongoing. These corridors include 50km road from Barclayville to Sasstown, which is part of the coastal highway project. Already, the Ecowas Bank for Investment and Development has approved an initial $50 Million US dollars for this project.
Fact Check: True, US$50 Million is provided by EBID
False, the road is 21km and not 50km
Untenable: that 131km of roads and procurement processes are ongoing
Claim: Financing arrangements have also been concluded for the construction of a 20 km road from Fish Town to Kaylipo, and a 61km road from Saclepea to Tappita. The World Bank has earmarked $55 Million US dollars for the pavement of the Tappita – Zwedru highway.
Fact Check: Untenable, we are yet to find information on the 20 km road from Fish Town to Kaylipo and the 61km road from Saclepea-Tappita. However, we found a former Sirleaf 2014 annual speech with this: “The Ganta to Harper road has been divided into segments to allow for phased development: Ganta to Tappita, Tappita to Zwedru, Zwedru to Fish Town and Fish Town to Harper. Feasibility studies for the segment between Zwedru and Fish Town are underway, as we seek financing for the feasibility and pavement of all segments.” It is unclear if this supports President Weah’s claim. We also found this but the road project is 80km and not 20km.
Untenable: We are yet to discover a record that supports Weah’s claim on the World Bank giving $55 Million for the pavement of the Tappita road. But we found out that the World Bank contributed $29 Million United States dollars to the Ganta – Tappita – Zwedru Road.
Claim: discussions with partners for funding commitments for the following roads: a 208 km road from Buchanan to Greenville, a 31 km road from Yarkpa Town Junction to Cestos, and
Fact Check: Debatable: The Executive Mansion states, “316 Kilometers stretch from Buchanan to Cestos City-Greenville-Barclayville”, there is no record of a 208km road from Buchanan to Greenville. Yarkpa Town Junction to Cestos road record is untenable.
Claim: 146 km road from Konia to Voinjama.
Debatable: The Konia- Voinjama road US$25 million loan agreement is yet to be ratified according to the government. Weah requested the Legislature to ratify the “Upgrading of the Konia-Voinjama Road Project Loan Agreement between the Republic of Liberia and the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID)” and the Renewable Energy for Electrification in Liberia (REEL) Project” between the Republic of Liberia and African Development Fund.
However, in 2018 annual speech Weah disclosed that the Government of Liberia secured funding from the Arab Banks, led by the Kuwaiti Fund, for the ongoing Gbarnga to Salayea Road corridor to be extended to Voinjama via Konia in Lofa County, totalling one hundred and ninety-five kilometers (195 km).
The Konia-Voinjama road project is yet to be known because in one speech it is 64-km while in another it is 146 km.