Liberia: Govt Launches Project to Cut Down Cost of Road Pavement

Deputy Public Works Minister for Technical Services Claude Langley

MONROVIA – The Government of Liberia (GOL) has launched a pilot project with a South African company for the pavement of roads using different chemicals and methods in a bid to help curtail wasteful spending on roads construction in the country.

The pilot project was inaugurated by government and Polyroads/Polymer Pavements Limited on Tuesday, November 19, 2019 in Schufflein, Margibi County.

Under the project, the South African company will construct the one (1) kilometer road leading to the 14th Military Hospital that is under construction for a cost of US$424,000, instead of the regular US$900,000 to US$1million that are normally charged for a similar kilometer of road.

As part of the agreement, the company will foot the cost of the road construction by 60%, while the government is responsible for the remaining 40%.

Speaking in an interview with reporters during the inauguration of the new road construction exercise, the Deputy Minister for Technical Services at the Ministry of Public Works, Mr. Claude Langley, disclosed that the introduction of the polyroads pavements will help the government to significantly save monies.

According to him, road construction remains a top priority of the government and as such, the introduction of a new road construction system and methods will be tested in south-eastern Liberia and others parts of the country when successful.

He noted that due to the current situations in Liberia, it remains quite different for the government to finance the construction of asphalt, or reinforced concrete roads.

“We recognized the fact that the cost of during the asphalt roads, or reinforced concrete is exorbitant. Giving the budgetary constraints, we know definitely that we cannot use the amount of money that it takes to do one asphalt paved road or reinforced concrete,” he stated.

“This is a pilot project and the manufacturers are saying this is the business that we want to sell out. They are coming in to try it; let’s see how the outcome will be. If we do it successfully; certainly, this is something government is going to seriously considered because of the difference in cost,” Minister Langley assured.

Minister Langley disclosed that polyroads have been successful in other countries including India and Ghana.

He noted that the government remains focused to ensure that the pilot project is successful.

According to him, the assessment shows that polyroads last for between 10 to 15 years during both the rainy and dry seasons.

Minister Langley pointed out that a covert system has been put into place to curtail the overflowing of the waters along the road leading to the hospital.

Win-win situation for all

When successful, he assured that the government will partner with donors to move from laterite roads to polyroads pavement across the country to ensure a win-win situation for all.

“This is important because, we have donors and everybody coming in fixing laterite roads-one and two years after, it’s gone. My objective now is to clearly states to the donor or whoever is coming that you want to do 20 kilometers of laterite road, but instead of giving me that, you can give me 15km and let me ceil it. So, with that way, two to 10 years’ time, I don’t have to go back to do that same road. It’s beneficiary to government and you,” he added.

Minister Langley furthered: “The investment is going to be kept. We keep doing laterite roads all the time; it’s complete repetition and when the rain comes, it wipes it out again.”

“We recognized the fact that the cost of during the asphalt roads, or reinforced concrete is exorbitant. Giving the budgetary constraints, we know definitely that we cannot use the amount of money that it takes to do one asphalt paved road or reinforced concrete.”

Claude Langley, Deputy Public Works Minister for Technical Services

Observation and assessment

Minister Langley disclosed that engineers at the Ministry of Public Works assigned at the project site will thoroughly assess the project and chemicals to guarantee the worth for money.

He indicated that the commencement of the project is also a learning process for others at the Ministry of Public Works, and therefore, all of the necessary steps and procedures will be observed and assessed scrupulously.

“By a week, we should be finished. And then, we will observe it. Once we observed it, basically we will make our assessment. We will look at the coverts and other things,” he stated.

Minister Langley added that local Liberian engineers will benefit from the transfer of knowledge depending on the ratio of a succession of the polyroads trial project in the country.

Frustrated over poor quality of road works 

The Deputy Public Works Minister, however, expressed frustration over the poor quality of road construction works previously initiated in Liberia.

He maintained that the construction of road to a greater extent does not imply its full completion.

“Yes, I have a problem on the issue of quality. From the layman’s point view, we can understand as soon as we see black coal tie on the road, everybody thinks that it’s all done, no. One of the major destruction of the roads are the rain,” he noted. 

No intent to undo other pavements 

The launch of polyroads pavement in Liberia would intensify competition in the infrastructural sector.

When endorsed by the government, owners of construction companies operating in the country will now be compelled to lower the present amount of US$900,000 to US$1million (depending on the road) being charged for the construction of a 1km of asphalt pavement road, or negotiate for a lesser price with government or its partners.

The Deputy Public Works Minister for Technical Services pointed out that the launch of the polyroads pavement in Liberia is not intended to take from business other companies doing asphalt and reinforced concrete pavements in Liberia.

According to him, government is presently concerned about quality, functions, and durability of road construction at a lower price.

“Let me be very clear to them-government interest is to make sure that we get value for money. They that are in the business been knowing that. There are lot of primary roads that will be done with asphalt and concrete. But being in business, you must understand that we need good value for the bulks we gave you. I have seen this pavement in South Africa, and I think we are making serious efforts. I can guarantee you that we have people with the expertise that we are learning from,” he among other things stated.

For his part, the Technical Director of Polyroads-Liberia, Austin Doe disclosed that the new methods of road construction is capable of combating flooding.

He pointed out that the company envisages the application of its products to other parts of the country.

He noted that the conventional methods used to construct roads continue to create lots of problems at the base of the soil through the use of granite, but soiltech will be applied by his company to stabilize the soil, and help increase its strength for durability purposes.

“We are applying a special product to the soil. It will cause the base to be water type. We first go and test the soil and get the right materials for construction. The reason for the pilot project is to strengthen our partnership with the government and we are getting support from the Ministries of Public Works, and National Defense” Doe added.

Also speaking, Montserrado County Senator Saah Joseph expressed delight over the testing of polyroads pavement in the country.

According to him, the move is in support of government’s pro-poor agenda.

Senator Joseph said the pilot project will minimize the spending of millions of dollars on road construction in Liberia.

Advantages of polyroads

Research shows that polyroads materials include both soiltech and ashphalttech to reduce construction cost by 30% to 60% than the use of conventional asphalt or cement.

It speeds up construction time by 50%, and it is usable generally within 24 to 48 hours of application.

The roads are environmentally friendly, while less maintenance works are required.

It reduces the consumption of quarry aggregate used in conventional construction, and