On a sunny Saturday morning in the ever-bustling commercial city of Ganta in Nimba County, commuters, businesspeople, and taxi drivers move goods and other products between different locations from far and nearby cities and towns, the bordering countries of Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire and nearby counties.
If traveling across Liberia can be described in one word, it will be ‘adventurous.’ The limited number of asphalt paved roads and the poor state of laterite roads between counties restrict economic activities, with a far-reaching impact on social life and social development.
The African Development Bank (AFDB) estimates that of the total of 10,538Km of public roads in Liberia, only a minute portion about 7% (734 Km) are paved.
The Liberian Government has made the construction of roads a top priority and a conduit to achieving the objectives of its development roadmap, the Pro-poor Agenda for Development and Prosperity (PAPD).
A committed and long-standing private sector partner to the Government and people of Liberia, ArcelorMittal is strongly supporting the government’s efforts to improve road connectivity across the country by committing USD $ 40million towards the asphalt pavement of the 65km major economic corridor between Ganta and Yekepa. The 40 million dollars to fund the road construction is not an MDA commitment but was given by ArcelorMittal Executive Chairman Lakshmi N. Mittal, as a gift to the Liberia people’s infrastructural development initiatives.
It can be recalled that on Jan 30, 2013, ArcelorMittal Liberia announced that it has signed a US$40 million deal with the government of Liberia to build a 70km road between the towns of Ganta and Yekepa, close to ArcelorMittal’s iron ore mine in Mount Tokadeh.
The agreement, signed at the Ministry of Public Works (MPW) on Jan 25 in Monrovia, signified the official start of the construction process on the road which will significantly cut the journey time between the two towns and allow local farmers and businesses to more easily take their goods to the regional market in Ganta.
ArcelorMittal Liberia then CEO Antonio Carlos said, “Today we are happy to make good on our promise to the Liberian people; a promise that Mr. Mittal, chairman and CEO of ArcelorMittal made to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in 2011.”
Road construction work on the Ganta – Yekepa is far advanced and already, commuters and locals in towns and villages along the road are beginning to enjoy the improvements the road is making in their daily lives including reduced travel time, lower transport fares, and increase in economic and social activities.
In Dingamo Town, located a few kilometers away from Ganta City, Town Chief Moses Senneh recalled the difficulties and challenges his people faced before the road construction and expressed gratitude to ArcelorMittal Liberia for its financial commitment of USD $ 40m to the road project.
“First of all, I appreciate ArcelorMittal for the efforts being made. We are looking at the road and this road is appreciated by the citizens here. Because first, this road was looking dusty but right now we’re living in a very good condition because some of us have houses on the road, and during the dry season, all our clothes and materials in the house would get dusty but we can’t experience such thing anymore. Even travel was difficult, and the bike riders and taxi drivers were charging us so much.
So, we appreciate ArcelorMittal for the efforts because they are the ones causing this road to be like this. So, we appreciate the project.”
President George M. Weah has also spoken of the importance of a good road network to spur Liberia’s development process. Speaking after inspecting the AML-funded Ganta-Yekepa on 12th June 2018, President Weah reemphasized his commitment to road construction that would open up the country.
“When the road is built, we all can connect. Don’t let anyone discourage you about the roads; the roads are very important for our economy,” President Weah stated.
The Ganta – Yekepa road runs through Sanniquellie, the capital of Nimba County up to the border with Guinea in Yekepa. The Compagnie Sahelienne d’Enteprises (CSE), a Senegalese construction company was awarded the contract for the road construction project by the Ministry of Public Works, and construction began in 2015.
Commercial drivers on the road have excitedly welcomed the project and the relief it is bringing to their daily travels.
Martin Beito, Vice President for the Federation of Road Transport Union of Liberia (FRTUL) in Nimba County acknowledged the improved condition of the road and the impact it is having.
“The way the road used to be, it’s no longer that way. The road used to be rough and dangerous. During the rainy seasons, cars used to get stuck but that’s no longer happening, because of the ongoing pavement. It’s a good project that will bring relief to travelers. It is one of the major developments by ArcelorMittal Liberia because when the road is developed, you will have investors coming in,” Beito explained.
The FRTUL Nimba Vice President wants the Government to closely monitor the project to ensure that the work is speedily done and up to standard.
“The next thing is the project duration. The length of time the contractors are taking on the road. It’s too long. We need the right information to be informed on the progress and challenges, because we are stakeholders, as major users of the road. We have people who look up to us for information,” he stressed.
The Ganta to Yekepa road project is being implemented in partnership with the Government of Liberia and is one of several ongoing projects ArcelorMittal Liberia is contributing to, outside of commitments in its Mineral Development Agreement (MDA).
Many Nimbaians and Liberians, in general, have praised ArcelorMittal for making such a huge contribution as the initiative had nothing to do with the MDA commitment and is hailed as a step in the right direction and indicative of the company’s long-term commitment to Liberia.
The Ganta Yekepa road was never paved, not even when the former mining companies operated.
Completion of the project is being accelerated under the current administration and very soon Liberians will be able to travel faster and safely from Ganta to Yekepa.
ArcelorMittal is the world’s leading steel and mining company, with a presence in 60 countries and primary steelmaking facilities in 16 countries. In 2021, ArcelorMittal had revenues of $76.6 billion and crude steel production of 69.1 million metric tonnes, while iron ore production reached 50.9 million metric tonnes. Our goal is to help build a better world with smarter steels. Steels made using innovative processes which use less energy, emit significantly less carbon and reduce costs. Steels that are cleaner, stronger and reusable. Steels for electric vehicles and renewable energy infrastructure that will support societies as they transform through this century. With steel at our core, our inventive people and an entrepreneurial culture at heart, we will support the world in making that change. This is what we believe it takes to be the steel company of the future. ArcelorMittal is listed on the stock exchanges of New York (MT), Amsterdam (MT), Paris (MT), Luxembourg (MT) and on the Spanish stock exchanges of Barcelona, Bilbao, Madrid and Valencia (MTS).
Source: All Africas