Monrovia – A Liberian delegation to Hong Kong and Japan is due back in the country today after what officials in George Weah-led government are describing as a successful mission aimed at jump starting a key pledge by the new government, the construction of a coastal highway.
FrontPageAfrica has learned that the delegation comprising Finance and Economic Planning Minister Samuel Tweah, Public Works Minister Mabutu Nyenpan, Minister of State Nathaniel McGill, Justice Minister Musa Dean and Cllr. Archibald Bernard, Legal Advisor to the President, has reportedly signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a financing group of Asian companies for a reported US$536 million dollar agreement to access funding for the implementation of the coastal road project.
The agreement is reportedly in the form of a loan payable over 22 years, according to a source privy to the discussion.
It is unclear whether the US$536 million is in addition to a similar quest by the new government to source funding for the same project from the a financing organization in Singapore said to be in the tone of US$500 million.
A source on the delegation confirmed to FrontPageAfrica that the deal which is subject to legislative approval will cover a little over 500 kilometer of roads.
However, the US$536 million still falls short of the estimated US$3 billion the President projected it would cost to link the capital Monrovia to the remote southeast in his annual message in January.
In that speech, the President acknowledged the challenge of making the pledge a reality.
“This is going to be very challenging but I am convinced that with the assistance of friendly governments and institutions this can be achieved before the end of my tenure.”
President Weah who said he inherited a broke country has already pledged to slash his salary by 25 percent in a bid to save development funds.
Asia has off late taken keen interest in Liberia.
The Japanese in particular, have been instrumental in helping Liberia achieve a lot of its desired objectives in recent years, making millions of dollars in rice and fuel to the previous administration headed by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
Since 2008, Japan has been making a lot of contributions, starting with with a 364 million Japanese Yen grant for the rehabilitation of Liberia-Japanese Friendship Maternity Hospital at the JFK Medical Center in Sinkor and from 2008 to 2017, the Japanese Embassy implemented several projects in the tune of several millions of United States dollars. One of such projects is the reconstruction of the Somalia Drive, which phase two is shortly to begin.
Outside of government, the Japanese recently signed a grant agreement with four local non-governmental organizations for the implementations of several development projects in rural Liberia.
The grant was awarded under the Japan’s Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Project (GGHSP).
In a recent meeting with Foreign Affairs Minister Mr. Gbehzohngar Milton Findley, Mr. Tsutomu Himeno, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan pledged his government’s commitment to working with the Liberian Government.
During that meeting, the Ambassador remarked on aid to Liberia from his country:
“We can't do all. What we can do is based on your priorities which we would like to build on and strengthen the existing relationship between our two nations."
"We are going to review our strategies base on your priorities, Mr. Minister. We are here to work and cooperate with your government.”