Minister of Works, Peter Bayuku Conteh (centre) and Ambassador Tom Vens-EU Head of Delegation
By Joseph S. Margai, Strategic Communications Coordinator (Office of the President)
Ministry of Works and Public Assets and its agency-Sierra Leone Roads Authority (SLRA), had on Thursday, 22nd August, 2019, engaged a delegation from the European Union on the status of road network in Sierra Leone.
Minister of Works and Public Assets, Peter Bayuku Conteh, said his ministry invited the EU delegation to share their plans with them.
He said EU’s contribution in Sierra Leone, especially in the road sector, is immense, adding that the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP)-led government puts infrastructure top of its agenda.
“We inherited lot of challenges in this ministry from the erstwhile government. Some of them include lack of coordination and collaboration among key players, improper criteria and politicisation of key projects, among others. Under the ‘New Direction’ administration, these challenges were being addressed,” he said.
He disclosed that previously, there were different players rehabilitating and constructing roads-especially feeder roads-but this government has reverted all road works including feeder roads’ rehabilitation SLRA.
“We have taken some stringent actions to enhance our efforts in the road sector. Every feeder road construction and rehabilitation should be sent to us for approval. We have also put all feeder roads activities on hold during the rainy season. We would no longer tolerate any designed, built contracts, among other actions taken,” he disclosed.
Minister Conteh said plans are underway for his ministry to host a road and infrastructure investment’s conference, which is slated for 5-6 December, 2019.
He noted that the roads that this government is approving for rehabilitation and construction are strategically-selected and not politically-selected, adding that there are better heads at SLRA to do construction and rehabilitation of roads in Sierra Leone.
Presenting on the topic: “Connectivity for Economic Emancipation”, SLRA’s Director General, Engineer Amara Kanneh, said the economic emancipation of this country is largely hinged on the state of the national road network.
He said over two billion, five hundred million United States Dollars (US$2,500,000,000) is needed in the coming years to give a major facelift to the country’s core road network.
He gave general background on the status of road network in the country, degree of improvement over the years, the economy and the road sub-sector, strategy for improving on the status quo, proposed programmes and ongoing projects.
Ambassador Tom Vens, Head of EU delegation in Sierra Leone, said from the SLRA Director General’s presentation, the Ministry of Works and Public Assets has a very sound and strategic plan to achieve major infrastructural development in the country.
He noted that there should be continuity in the road sector irrespective of politics, adding that the ministry should not only maintain roads but provide governance for those roads as well.
“Roads built with EU’s support are of high standards like the ones in Europe. We are aware of the fact that poor road standards put people’s lives at risk,” he said.
He urged that feeder roads rehabilitation should be seen as an opportunity to employ locals and develop skills.