Deputy Public Works Minister for Rural Development and Community Services Jackson Paye
More than 1,000 kilometers of feeder roads are being constructed and rehabilitated in several parts of the country, Deputy Public Works Minister for Rural Development and Community Services disclosed yesterday in Monrovia, stating that these developments bolster the economies of rural dwellers and improve their livelihoods.
With improved roads, citizens are able to easily and timely move their farm produce to major markets and earn incomes from their labor that would help reduce poverty and improve their lives, Minister Jackson Paye indicated.
Paye said the Ministry of Public Works (the infrastructure development arm of the government that has come under serious public criticisms) has a “strong and vibrant” feeder road program that making impact in the counties, with the support of development partners.
The Minister spoke at the launch of leaflets on the “Best Practice for Rural Roads” produced by the Ministry in collaboration with the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), under the Liberian-Swedish Feeder Road Project.
SIDA is the Swedish Government’s development arm implementing a 5-year feeder roads project in the country to enhance free and easy movements of goods and services in rural communities.
The project is being implemented in Lofa, Bong and Nimba Counties, where nearly 450 kilometers of feeder roads have been constructed or rehabilitated, officials said.
Paye noted that SIDA is the key partner to the Ministry’s vibrant feeder road project in the country, and indicated that SIDA’s intervention is upped by similar activities of other donors and ministries of government.
“SIDA has constructed 436 kilometers out of 546 kilometers of feeder roads in Lofa, Bong and Nimba counties under the Liberian Swedish-Feeder road program,” he disclosed. “There are plans afoot for the project to be extended to the southeastern counties. We are working to get the requisite fund from the Swedish Government.”
The United States Aid agency (USAID), Paye went on, is also planning to construct 300 kilometers of feeder roads in Bong, Nimba, Lofa, and Grand Bassa Counties to shore up its agriculture based Food Enterprise Development project.
Similarly, the Ministry of Agriculture is working to construct at least 1,000 kilometers of feeder roads in Lofa, Nimba, Grand and another southeastern county, through a project sponsored by African Development Bank, the World Bank and other partners, the country’s rural roads chief said.
Speaking on the best practice leaflets launched, Paye said the production was “the result of our collaborative efforts involving SIDA, engineers of the Public Works” and its officials and other partners. “It was reviewed, approved, and adopted by the Ministry of Public Works as a quick reference guide or field manual for feeder road engineers,” he declared.
“We do not want to take credit for this work without acknowledging the work and contributions of our predecessor including Hon. Christian G. Herbert, former Deputy Minister for Rural Development and Community Services and other officials of the ministry of public who contributed immensely for the completion of this project, including SIDA, among other stakeholders,” he asserted.
While the leaflets are useful tools, Paye told engineers that they are by no means the replacement to what the Ministry initially had. “By the same token,” he furthered, “we are open to any suggestion that could help to enhance work that this research is intended to perform.”
Liberia has a network of 1,860 kilometers of primary roads of which 732 Kilometers are paved; 1,947 kilometers of secondary roads, and 4,200 kilometers of feeder roads, Public Works statistics reveals.
Unlike Ghana, Liberia is beginning to place more emphasis on the construction of feeder roads, and Minister Paye claims that “We are making in rows with the help of all our partners, especially SIDA. We boast of being one of the countries in the sub region that will boast of connecting rural inhabitants to the main markets and we are in the position now to do so because of this research and other collaborative efforts.”