Monrovia - As the administration of the Unity Party led Government under the leadership of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf draws closer to its end, some top government officials have been witting in their opinions on its achievements.
Despite staunch criticisms from the opposition blog and some quarters of the Liberian society that the government has failed to live up to its expectations, these stalwarts say the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf-led government has laid the foundation for the “forward match of the country”.
“There is a bigger plan that the government commits to implementing. We will do it at the level we can until we leave and whoever comes in after this government will meet that solid foundation that they can stand on to work,” declared Presidential Press Secretary Jerolinmick Piah.
Appearing on the State Broadcaster’s flagship program, Super Morning Show on Wednesday, December 28, Piah and Information Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe, said the construction of major roads across the country and the rehabilitation of the Mount Coffee Hydro power Plant are major steps taken to boost economic growth and improve the livelihoods of all Liberians.
“We are talking about just 11 years of this administration, and the solid foundation which is very important is being laid by this government because you see all of the connectivity going on, coming from all the way Maryland County advancing to Fish Town, and with the new approach that Minister Nagbe just talked about coming from Ganta moving toward Saclepea and Tappita are all gear toward making sure that the country is fully connected; because if you do that, then the economic viability of the nation that we all yearn for will happen,” Piah added.
Touching on key sectors of the economy and government’s activities in 2016, the chief communicators of the Liberian government noted that although much was being done to develop the country, the government was still far from reaching its objectives.
Minister Nagbe, giving update on the government’s infrastructure development programs, disclosed that a tripartite discussion is being held among the Governments of Liberia and the United Kingdom, and the World Bank for the pavement of the Ganta – Saclepea road early next year.
He noted that the government has accrued $25m of the total $40m needed to start the project; and was optimistic that the remaining $15m would be realized following the ongoing negotiation with its international partners.
Nagbe and Piah also disclosed that the constructions of the Manikorma road in Lofa County and the Kesselly Boulevard that is expected to connect Gardnesville to Sinkor, will commence in 2017.
“The Government of Liberia is negotiating with its international partners including the Arab Bank for Development in Africa, the Saudis and the Kuwaitis,” Nagbe said.
These partners came to Liberia and drove on the road with the Vice President to see how the project was ongoing."
"So now we are concluding procurement; because it is also a requirement. And once procurement is completed in the next few weeks, actual construction work will start on that road.”
Nagbe further asserted that the newly constructed roads including the Monrovia-Gbarnga highway are impacting the lives of ordinary citizens.
“We can say the road connecting Gbarnga to Monrovia has made significant impact to the citizens.
The cost of living has improved, access to markets by farmers has improved, meaning that I can leave from Genepleta and come to Monrovia with my potatoes or my tomatoes and be able to sell it at a better price because the transportation fare has reduced,” he said.
And the Presidential Press Secretary added that major bilateral and multi-lateral agreements were signed in 2016 that are currently being implemented; and when completed would take the country to another level.
He named the ongoing $US50 million modern terminal and runway construction project at the Robert International AirPort and the erection of the $US60 million ministerial complex by the Chinese Government as major infrastructures Liberia is expected to boast off soon.
“In 2016 we were able to conclude all of the arrangements, and as we speak now, mobilization is going for the actual commencement of the work to give us a brand new terminal and the brand new runway.
It is under the same 2016 that work has progressed and almost in the middle with the construction or the rehabilitation of the White Plains water treatment plant that will increase our capacity to generate water from four million gallons to over 60 million gallons per day,” a buoyant Piah explained.
“It is in the same 2016 that we were able to ensure that we built wash facilities in over 50 schools. It is the same 2016 that we were able to bring to Liberia what we called Project Link Liberia with Google that will be able to enhance our internet connectivity. That’s why I said 2016 was a year of concrete and tangible deliverables.”
Health Sector on Track
Minister Nagbe said despite the scourge of the Ebola Virus Disease, all of the health indicators show that Liberia was doing well.
He noted that life expectancy in Liberia has increased to around 54 years for male; while the female figure was a bit higher (wasn’t exact); something he said was better than Guinea and Sierra Leone.
Nagbe pointed out that more people have access to health facility than ever before and the maternal mortality rate was decreasing steadily.
He also added that the country’s Human Development Index (HDI) was climbing gradually.
The HDI measures and compares the general human development activity of countries with similar economic conditions of a region; taking into consideration the health and educational sectors and also the general livelihood of the people.
Liberia is often compared to Guinea, Sierra Leone, Mali, Niger and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), but according to the Information Minister, Liberia has been steadily performing.
He, however, stressed that the figure was not yet satisfactory and much are being done to improve the situation.
“2016 indicators have not yet been published, but the 2015 indicators have shown that we have made some progress, not progress enough for us to climb out of the red, but the progress is steady,” Nagbe intimated.
He asserted that the number of Medical Doctor prior to the inception of this administration has quadrupled (4 as compared to 200).
He named the provisions of attractive incentives and increased housing facilities for doctors as some mechanisms that are being put in place to get the best out of them.
Increased Student Enrollment
The Information Minister outlined the increase in students’ enrollment and the construction of more schools as some of the greatest achievement in the educational sector.
He also stated that the number of girls in school is now on pal with boys. Nevertheless, he noted that the ability to provide quality education is one of the main challenges facing that sector.
He said despite the president describing the system was messy some years back, tremendous effort are being applied to improve the sector.
He mentioned that the Kakata Rural Teacher Training Institute (KRTTI) in Margibi County and the Zorzor Rural Teacher Training Institute (ZRTTI) are now functioning actively and training quality teachers.
He stated that 2,000 schools have been built by the current administration, and among that number, 50 schools were built in 2016 alone.
The information Minister further disclosed that the Private Public Partnership launched by the Ministry of Education (MOE) is ‘scoring some success,’ adding that the Bridge project is still in its trial stage.