The pavement of Lofa road has brought forth claims and counterclaims between current officials of Government and Sirleaf’s fanatic.
The former Information Minister and now Maritime Commissioner, Eugene Nagbe appeared on OK FM (2: 43min) conversation, Wednesday, December 29 claimed that though there were commitments by the previous administration on the construction of the road, there was little or nothing done to begin the construction.
According to Nagbe, there was a contract signed from Gbarnga to Salayea and now it is Gbarnga to Mendekoma.
“It is a big lie! There was no money available for the Gbarnga – Konia Road before President Weah took over. We have to push and push and push to have this Lofa Road going so how can somebody say that money was there?”
Nagbe continues, “ If it was there why they did not fix the road? There was a contract signed from Gbarnga to Salayea now it is Gbarnga to Mendekoma.”
The maritime commissioner stated that on January 17, 2020, the President‘s Annual message was named the Lofa Road.
“ It is the ‘Loan agreement for the upgrading Konia to Voinjama Road Project Between the Government of Liberian and the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development; it was passed by the legislature during the same year, “Nagbe’s.
The statement was supported by Finance Minister Samuel Tweah when he phoned in.
The Stage Media will analyze the claim in several parts.
Was there an agreement between the Kuwait Fund and the Republic of Liberia prior to the current Administration?
Yes, there was a Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development delegation that arrived in Monrovia on November 18, 2013 that met with the former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the Minister of Public Works.
What Happened next?
The discussion with the Kuwait Fund focused on the allocation of US$1.8 million provided to the government for the feasibility study for the Gbarnga-Mendekoma Highway, and on funding opportunities for the construction of that highway relative to the completion of the feasibility studies originally for Lots 1 and 2.
Minister Antoinette Weeks provided an update of the completion of the feasibility studies for Lot 1 (Gbarnga to Konia) and Lot 2 (Konia to Mendekoma), citing the delay in delivering the documents for the latter, which are being prepared by a Kuwaiti consultant firm.
According to the Minister, the initial estimated projected cost for the entire corridor was US$350-385 million.
Response to Liberia by the Kuwaitis
The representatives of the Fund acknowledged the internal problems with the consultant on Lot 2 and suggested that the government consider exploring other lenders, and suggested that Public Works should present two separate loan packages.
The Fund recommended that Public Works prepare an executive summary for the construction of the Gbarnga-Mendekoma Highway to include the estimated project cost, economic benefits; and to indicate its financing options; on the percentage of the national budget versus external financing.
Was there an agreement for Gbarnga to Salayea Road?
Yes, there was an agreement between the Government of Liberia and the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic in 2016 that signed a $17 million United States Dollars loan agreement to help finance the Gbarnga –Salayea Road project. The road connects Bong and Lofa Counties.
Was LOFA road included in the 2020 Annual Message?
Yes, it was included four times in President George Weah Annual 2020 speech.
It is safe to say that the Sirleaf administration secured monies as stated by Nedhal A. Alolayan, Deputy Director-General for Finance and Administration of Kuwaiti Fund for Arab Economic Development when he signed the 20M agreement in 2019.
The loan according to Mr. Alolayan is the 4th concessionary loan extended to Liberia with a total amount of US$ 60 million, all of which are for the projects in the transport sector.
However, he said the Fund has extended technical assistance amounting to about 1.8 million US Dollars for the preparation of the feasibility study and design of the Gbarnga-Mendekoma Road Project and a grant extended by the Government of the State of Kuwait to Liberia on March 2, 2012.
Records from the Ministry of Finance show that there was a negotiation during Sirleaf’s Administration in 2017. Lot 1 of the Gbarnga-to Kornia highway was financed and there was a groundbreaking done in 2017.