On Friday 29th April, 2016 the 24 kilometre stretch, spanning from the Sumbuya-Lugbu jetty to Nganyaguehun-Gbagbo in the Bo District was official handed over to contractors for reconstruction. The commissioning ceremony took place at the Sumbuya Court Barray and was witnessed by local dignitaries from the District Council and chiefdom stakeholders from both Lugbu and Gbagbo chiefdoms.
The Equatorial Construction Company, a Freetown based company clinched the multi-million Leones Road Maintenance Fund bid for the reconstruction work that will ease transportation problems in that part of the country. This is part of Government’s commitment to the Agenda for Prosperity by ensuring that economically viable areas have good road networks to promote agriculture and investment growth.
Addressing the audience, Paramount Chief Alhaji Mohamed Alie Nallo started by thanking the Government of His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma for thinking of them this time in road reconstruction and rehabilitation. According to him, it was largely possible through the resilience of Hon. Helen Kuyembeh whom he described as ‘the commando’ that led them in the fight to ensure funding was sourced for the reconstruction project. The PC also thanked God for making it possible under his tenure to see lots of development projects being flooded into the chiefdom.
“Development is avalanching into Lugbu; crossing rivers and rolling atop mountains to come to reach us,” posited Chief Nallo. He said previously they had lost a lot of opportunities because of the poor road network. “But we thank God now that with our little efforts and that extended by agricultural and mining companies operating in the chiefdom, our roads have been manageable.”
He however, hastened to add that their efforts have been very slow and inadequate for which reason they decided to take up the matter seriously with government to come to their aid. “We planned and worked towards the realisation of this project but we are thankful for our daughter, Hon. Helen for championing the cause for us with President Koroma’s government,” he furthered.
He said he was particularly proud with the track record of Hon. Kuyembeh as she always stands by them in times of need. “We do not send MPs to Parliament to build schools or construct roads. Their primary function is to legislate on our behalf but Hon. Helen has gone far beyond that by having hands in everything developmental in this constituency, including building schools, Bondo houses and even extending personal gestures,” Chief Nallo noted as he admonished all to work together and remain focused for the development of the chiefdom.
Speaker after speaker lauded the efforts of the elders for bringing development in the chiefdom, noting that with better roads more development is sure to come. Coucillor Vandy Amara thanked Hon Kuyembeh and the Government of Sierra Leone for thinking of them as in his words “a lot of efforts have been put but little had since been realised to see the road in appreciable condition.” This was re-echoed by the youth representative who said for decades, Lugbu could only boast of development under the tenure of the PC and the MP.
Mr. Jah, Bo District Council Road Maintenance Committee representative said it was a truism that bad roads hinder development. He disclosed that series of meetings were being held in Bo to strategise for the road, saying the people were very cooperative to ensure attendance. “I appreciate the role played by the chiefdom people, especially the chief and Hon Kuyembeh who always left their busy schedules to attend those meetings and in particular for lobbying government.”
Hon. Kuyembeh in her brief address said serving her people was merely keeping to her promise made during elections in 2012. She said since she entered Parliament she had always got the determination to help both individually and collectively, irrespective of anything. “I am an MP for everybody; not only SLPP and I know development touches all regardless on one’s political affiliation,”
According to the MP they have been spending a lot of money on the road but with little realisation. “That was why when I discovered our limits, I decided to lobby government to consider my people. It is your right to have good roads because you are paying taxes so government has considered pinching from those taxes to help us,” she told them. She said it was not easy as an opposition MP as year in year out she lobbied until the Sumbuya-Nganyaguehun stretch was finally factored for reconstruction in the 2016 Appropriation Act.
“I want you to thank President Ernest Bai Koroma and the Road Maintenance Fund for providing the money for the work to go ahead,” she entreated, as she advised them to work together as a constituency to foster development.
She ended by debunking claims that the reconstruction work was jointly undertaken by GOSL and some investment companies in the chiefdom. “Though we appreciate the companies for helping but it is their corporate social responsibility; and besides they also use the roads but this project is entirely being funded by government through the Road Maintenance Fund.”
The Equatorial Construction Company representative promised that they would complete the work in record time. He said in all they would have to do 18 culverts and create new bridges. He said the good thing was that they have agreed with the chiefdom authorities to hire labour entirely from the constituency. “We will engage no outsider to do the labour work because we want the job to be done by the youth here and get paid,” he allayed. The occasion climaxed in the inspection of the road under reconstruction from the Sumbuya Jetty.