Chinese Firm To Complete Major Bridge Construction One Year Later As Pres. Sirleaf Visits Project Site

A scene from the 240-meters Vai Town Bridge being constructed in Monrovia by the Chinese Company. It is expected to be complected and handed over in November 2011
A scene from the 240-meters Vai Town Bridge being constructed in Monrovia by the Chinese Company. It is expected to be complected and handed over in November 2011

It will now take up to 18 months before construction works on the Old Bridge (otherwise known as Vai Town or Tubman Bridge) is complete and opened to public use, construction officials disclosed to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf yesterday.

Officials of the Chongqing International Construction Company (CICO), the Chinese firm contracted to rebuild the bridge and Monrovia’s street, told the President that all materials needed for the construction of the bridge were now on the ground, and full-scale work was proceeding rapidly.

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and her Labour Minister Samuel Kofi Woods touring the construction site
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and her Labour Minister Samuel Kofi Woods touring the construction site

“We will finish the work in 18 months…we will finish the work by November 2011…I am sure the work will be finished by next November,” one of the officials told President Sirleaf and Public Work Minister Samuel Kofi Woods, who had gone to tour the site for an update.

The latest development indicates that the construction of the bridge will last one more year longer than the initial completion and hand over date of November 21, 2010.

The World Bank is pumping in a little over US$14.5M to restore the bridge which finally crumbled in May 2007 after 60 years of existence.

The 240 meter-long railway bridge was built between 1945 and 1946 for railway purposes and later became a two-lane vehicle bridge with pedestrian sidewalks.

Besides providing easy and shorter alternative route to entering the capital from Vai Town to the commercials enclave of Waterside, the Tubman Bridge (official name) also served as a bustling trading center for petty traders and fishermen, who fetched fish in the Mesurado River.

Dozens of other people including criminals also found homes and save havens under the bridge, some of whom looted parts and sold them to scrap dealers.

Many Liberians had hoped the bridge construction would have been near completion by now.

“There were some challenges and difficulties in the beginning” that caused delay in the commencement of the work a CICO officials told the President, but said these challenges have now been dealt with.

The officials informed the Liberian leader that mobilization, geotechnical investigation and demolition of the existing bridge have all been done.

They said construction of the foundation, which is now taking place, would be followed by construction of the superstructure, deck pavement and handover hopefully in November 2011.

“This is the most difficult part of the bridge construction – the foundation – and the entire construction will be complete in 18 to 20 months,” a technician explaining diagram to the President and the Public Works Minister, said.

President Sirleaf lauded the company for the work and stressed the need for Liberians to be trained. She applauded the company’s pronouncement to train some Liberians engineering and bridge construction skills.

Prior to reaching the bridge, President Sirleaf, as part of touring the waterfront of Monrovia along with Minister Woods, ordered the demolition of structures in the right of way.

The Liberian leader frowned at illegal structures including toilets built along the waterfront and Lebanese stores constructed at the intersection of Water and Gurley streets.

She told the proprietor of the Rasamany Brothers that his store/warehouse was built on government’s properties and it would be demolished.

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Author: D K Sengbeh

Danicius Kaihenneh Sengbeh is a media and communication practitioner with practical experience both as mainstream journalist, social justice advocate and corporate communicator since 2001. He currently serves as Manager for Communications, Media and Public Affairs at the Liberia Revenue Authority—a semi-autonomous agency responsible for the collection of revenue in Liberia. He has acquired great organizational, research, analytical, documentation and communication skills over the years, that make him seamlessly fit into any professional organization. Danicius is former Media Affairs and Public Information Officer of the Liberia Revenue Authority, former Secretary General of the Press Union of Liberia, former Assistant Secretary of the Press Union of Liberia, former News Editor and Editor-In-Chief of The Informer Newspaper, former Editor of the Independent Newspaper, former Reporter of the Patriot Newspaper, a UN Media Fellow and Liberia’s first UN Medal Award-winning journalist. Currently pursuing MA in International Relations, Danicius holds a BA Degree in Mass Communication and Sociology from the University of Liberia, and a Diploma in Journalism from the International School of Journalism. He boasts of dozens of certificates in mass media training (journalism and communication studies) from studies and fellowships in Ghana, China, United States, South Africa, Rwanda and Switzerland, among others. As an active member of the Press Union of Liberia, Danicius believes in advocating for free speech, professional journalism, press freedom and social justice. Danicius' many years of rich experiences in the Liberian media, his fortitude as an excellent and resourceful team player, his excellent connection and explicit understanding of local and international media developments, and the working of the Liberian government and society, among other enviable attributes, make him one of the country's respected and admired media personalities. His career objective is to join an institution with a professional team of individuals dedicated to working for and serving humanity (in and outside the media industry), where he can meaningfully contribute his knowledge, attitude and skills in helping achieve the set goals and objectives of said institution. He can be quickly reached via (+231) 886586531/777586531 / dakasen1978@yahoo.com. He also has an active presence on social media, especially Facebook and WhatsApp.

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