The Foreign Minister of Liberia, Ms. Marjon Kamara has extended deep thanks and appreciation to the Government of Japan for the immense contribution they are making to the socio-economic transformation of the country.
“This is another milestone that has enabled us to solidify our relationship,” she said, adding, “I want to assure you that Liberia values this relationship and we hope it will grow from strength to strength.”
According to a Foreign Ministry release, Ms. Kamara made the assertion at an official signing ceremony of Exchange of Notes and Grant Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Liberia and the Government of Japan for the Reconstruction of the Somalia Drive Project (Phase II) held in the conference room of the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday, March 14, 2017.
Phase II of Somalia Drive Project signed between the Government of Liberia and JICA is worth ¥5.22 billion or US$46 million. In addition to the Grant for Phase 1, the total budget for the project is approximately US$100 million considered one of the biggest JICA’s infrastructure projects in West Africa.
His Excellency Mr. Kaoru Yoshimura, Ambassador of Japan to Liberia and Foreign Minister Kamara signed the Exchange of Notes and Record of Discussions; while Mr. Koji Makino, Director of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Foreign Minister Kamara signed the Grant Agreement for the Reconstruction of the Somalia Drive Project (Phase II).
Ms. Kamara praised the Japanese Government for its assistance to Liberia in infrastructure, specifically roads and energy. “We are grateful that these two infrastructure priority projects will have immense impact on the lives and livelihood of the people of Liberia,” she stressed.
She expressed gratitude to the Government of Japan for other kinds of assistance that Liberia is receiving; highlighting Japanese support to Liberia through the food aid and non-project grant aid which is monetized and the funds used for various types of activities including the construction of alleyways along the Robertsfield Highway by the Ministry of Public Works; the construction of warehouses by the Ministry of Agriculture around the country so that increased production of farmers can be stored; the construction of bridges; as well as critical support to medium and small-sized enterprises.
“We just say thanks because you are doing these things aimed at lifting the welfare of the Liberian people,” Foreign Minister Kamara emphasized.
Speaking earlier, the Ambassador of Japan to Liberia, H.E. Mr. Yoshimura said the reconstruction of the Somalia Drive is a demonstration of Japan’s commitment to improving the socio-economic lives of partners such as Liberia through infrastructure development.
He said this commitment was further expounded during the 2016 Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD VI), held in Nairobi, Kenya. “During TICAD, Japanese Prime Minister Abe announced that Japan’s partnership with African countries would be aimed at achieving a “Quality Africa” built through the three elements of infrastructure, human resources, and “kaizen”, he indicated, adding, “To achieve this Japan pledged to dedicate approximately US$10 billion to Africa over the next three years for building high quality infrastructure.”
Ambassador Yoshimura said in September 2016, a project to rehabilitate the Monrovia Power System, valued at ¥2,125,000,000 or approximately US$25 million was completed with support from the Government of Japan.
He said these projects and many other infrastructure projects which Japan hopes to pursue in Liberia soon would significantly contribute to improving the lives of Liberians.
Ambassador Yoshimura acknowledged the good work of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Public Works and other relevant stakeholders in making the occasion possible. “We are very confident that the second phase of the project will be successfully implemented,” he said.
For his part, the Director of JICA, Mr. Koji Makino said that smooth traffic network is the foundation of all aspects of socio-economic development and it is the highest priority in Liberia. “We are grateful to contribute to the life of more than one million people in Monrovia as well as logistics and commercial activities in this area,” he reaffirmed, adding that JICA will continue to work together with the people and the Government of Liberia.
The Project for the Reconstruction of the Somalia Drive is the biggest Japanese grant-aid project in Liberia under JICA. In June 2013, JICA and Government of Liberia (GOL) signed a Grant Aid agreement for the reconstruction of Somalia Drive. In November 2016, the amount of the grant was amended to ¥5.689 billion or US$50.6 million.
As the project is to ease the traffic congestion alongside the Somalia Drive and promote the economic and social activities, major contents of the first phase include: the expansion of the current two-lane Somalia Drive to a total of four-lane - thus constructing two completely new lanes along with the 13.2-kilometer current road from Freeport to Redlight; construction of a new Stockton Bridge; and the repair of the Double Bridge.
For Phase II, two lanes of the existing road will be rehabilitated. With support from the Ministry of Public Works, JICA consultants have already completed their preparatory survey for the second phase and construction is expected to commence shortly, before completing the current Phase I. When the whole construction completed, Somalia Drive will have four new lanes from Freeport to Redlight.
The contractor, Dai Nippon Construction commenced construction in February 2014. However, work was suspended due to the Ebola outbreak. JICA recommenced construction work in October 2015.