Head of European Delegation in Sierra Leone Ambassador Peter Versteeg has said that the Bandajuma Liberia highway construction project will create 700 direct jobs for the locals as well as a greater amount of indirect employment.
He made this disclosure during the signing ceremony last Thursday at the Vice President’s office, where the Minister of Finance Dr Kaifala Marah and the Regional Director of Compagnie Sahelienne D’Enterprises (CSE) Mamadou Demba Sow signed the agreement.
Amb. Versteeg said the project includes accompanying measures for the communities along the road in order to enhance its socio-economic impact at local level and to mitigate the impact of the construction works.
“Gender is a particular concern of this project as the employment of women will be monitored and the contractor is therefore encouraged to employ women including in qualified jobs. Youth employment will also be strongly favoured with a trainee programme to allow 36 junior engineers or technicians to get practical experience on the field, with an objective of gender balance.”
Amb. Peter Versteeg says the construction works to be carried out by CSE amounts to 67.7 million euros and will last for 36 months. “It includes 100 km of paved road, the reconstruction of two bridges of 225 meters over the Sewa River and 82 meters over the Wannje River, and the construction of a brand new bridge of 160m over the Moa River to replace the existing ferry close to Zimmi.”
The EU boss said they expect the project to significantly improve access of citizens to health and education services and generate direct employment in the region throughout the period of works and beyond. “It will also facilitate access to markets and boost trade between Liberia and Sierra Leone.”
The Minister of Finance, Dr Kaifala Marah said the Bandajuma Liberia highway is part of infrastructural development for the socio-economic development in Sierra Leone as detailed in the Agenda for Prosperity and consistent with vision 2035, which is among the key flagships of the government.
“The Bandajuma Liberia border road is located in the south-east of Sierra Leone and forms part of the Trans-West African Coastal Highway; the main highway connection between the countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. This highway passes through Bo, the second largest city in Sierra Leone, crosses the Sewa River approximately 8.8km south of Bo and continues south to the small chiefdom town of Bandajuma located among the banks of the Waanje River.”
Dr Kaifala Marah said this project is expected to contribute to the reduction of poverty through the enhancement of the road and bridges network in Sierra Leone and in the West African region. “In addition, this project unlike other infrastructural projects comes with providing other social amenities for the locals including schools, health care facilities and water wells.”
The Minister also reiterated that this project will contribute to the objective by enhancing the socially and economically sustainable development of the population by the elimination of constraints to road transport and consequent reduction in costs.
“This is consistent with the government strides in ensuring a middle income level Sierra Leone by 2035.”
Vice President Victor Bockarie Foh said the construction of the road has lots of economic benefits to the five chiefdoms that the road passes through as the rubber, Cacao and rice production will increase and they will have access to the markets as well as paying low cost for transportation.