The Liberian Government has signed a landmark Loan Agreement with the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) for the immediate pavement of the Gbarnga-Salayea Road. According to a MFDP dispatch, Liberia’s Finance Minister Amara Konnehand Mr. Suleiman J. Al-Herbish, Director General of the OPEC Fund for International Development on Monday, February 22, 2016 in Vienna, Austria signed the landmark Loan Agreement worth US$20 Million to support the pavement of the first phase of the Gbarnga-Mendikorma road project.
The road project which is significant, given the importance of agricultural activities in that part of the country, will also accelerate regional trade and commerce, as well as the overall economic development of Liberia. The signing which awaits timely ratification by the National Legislature is an excellent opportunity that will open up the north-western part of Liberia, signifying a positive step taken by the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Administration through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning in delivering development targets under the Agenda for Transformation. In remarks, Minister Konneh expressed delight over signing this historic financing document, building on the many achievements of this administration under President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and bringing development to the north-west of the country. “This is the first step towards paving the road from Gbarnga to Mendikoma, linking the country together,” Minister Konneh declared during the signing ceremony in Vienna, Austria on Monday. Minister Konneh maintained that the government acknowledges the paving of the road from Gbarnga to Salayea will directly contribute to economic and social development of Liberia through expansion and integration of road networks, which would reduce travelling time and cost; improve accessibility, achieve road safety and security, and ultimately improve the standard of living of the inhabitants of Bong and Lofa counties. The MFDP dispatch noted that the agreement signed on Monday will provide US$20 million into a pool of funds meant for the pavement of 81 km of the road from Gbarnga to Salayea which is the first section of Lot 1 between Gbargan and Salayea at the total project cost of US72 million. The dispatch indicated that the MFDP is working with Public Works Ministry and other partners, including the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), The Saudi Fund for Development (SFD), and the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) as well as the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) to finance the rest of the road project. For his part, the Director General of the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), Mr. Suleiman J. Al-Herbish who welcomed Minister Konneh and delegation said the loan is intended to raise the standard of living of the population in the two counties, including Lofa and Bong, to reduce time and cost of travel, improve accessibility and achieve security and safety on the road. He thanked the Liberian delegation for the visit and subsequent signing of the agreement while at the same time pledged the Fund’s support to Liberia’s development. It can be recalled, the Liberian Government in September 2015 hosted a delegation of Arab lenders, including the OPEC Fund for Development (OFID), the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD), and Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED). The Arab lenders conducted an appraisal of the road project and committed their willingness to finance the Gbarnga-Mendikoma Highway Reconstruction Project. The cooperation between OFID and Liberia started in November 1978 when a project loan for an amount of US$3 million was approved by the Government Board. Since then, OFID has extended to Liberia four loans totaling US$36.3 million in support of the energy, transport and industry sectors with additional benefits of seven regional grants to Liberia.