Liberia: UN-backed road rehabilitation can help spur economic revival

Liberia: UN-backed road rehabilitation can help spur economic revival

Labour-intensive road rehabilitation work carried out with United Nations support can help revive economic activity across Liberia as it consolidates its transition to democracy from 14 years of civil war, according to the top UN official in the West African country.

“Roads provide jobs and security,” Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Representative Alan Doss said on a visit to an important road project in northern Lofa County, which has already created more than 500 jobs.

“This is why President [Ellen] Johnson-Sirleaf has listed road improvement at the top of her ‘dry-season deliverables.’ We have the human resources, the equipment, and now we also have the funding and the partners. So, we can make a difference before the end of the dry season,” he added.

The rehabilitation of the Voinjama-Zorzor road, being re-built by the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) Pakistani engineering unit with funding and support from the World Bank and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), will serve as a model for similar projects across Liberia, he declared.

The 95-kilometre project is just one of several joint UN implementation projects in Lofa County, involving UNDP, the World Bank, and UNMIL in close collaboration with Liberia’s Ministry of Public Works.

The World Bank has contributed $600,000 towards the project and the Bank’s official responsible for infrastructure in Liberia, Paul Kriss, said the success of the project could be replicated through similar collaboration for the re-construction of other roads.

UNDP Country Director, Steven Ursino called the partnership between UNMIL, UNDP, the World Bank and Liberia’s Public Works Ministry a good example of collaboration. “We need to draw the lessons from this partnership because there are many other roads that have to be rebuilt and this could serve as an example,” he said.

In addition to the creation of jobs and economic revitalization, the initiative also forms part of UNMIL’s programme for the re-integration of former fighters and returnees in the County.

UNMIL, established by the Security Council three years ago to support the peace process after a ceasefire between the warring factions, played a multifaceted role in overseeing Liberia’s transition from the ravages of a disastrous civil war, culminating in the democratic election of Ms. Johnson-Sirleaf a year ago.

It is engaged in many development projects, and just this week handed over a rebuilt police station in Nimba County, a border region that saw much of the unrest in the war.