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SKD-ELWA-RIA Road Takes New Shape -As East International Begins Asphalt Pavement

Infufillment of President George M. Weah vision to connect the 15 counties of Liberia, East International Group, Inc., the contractor for the construction of RIA road corridor, on June 7, 2023, commenced the asphalt pavement work from SKD Sports complex after intensive day-night work for the past few months.

The road section from SKD Sports complex to ELWA market is scheduled to be paved by the end of June, 3.5km of asphalt pavement is scheduled to be completed by the end of July.

While, the road section from SKD Sports complex to Rehab Community is scheduled to be completed by August of this year, African Entertainment News (AEN) Liberia correspondent said.

Accordingly, the 45-kilometer road project commenced in September 2021, and was scheduled for completion within three years with targeted completion in 2024. It is estimated to cost US$116 million.

On completion, the expanded RIA highway will comprise a four-lane road with street and traffic lights along the route and at intersections. It will also have standardized culvert and drainage systems.

Recently, the country Public Works Minister, Ruth Coker Collins assured the public that significant progress had been made, and road pavement works was expected to start before the rainy season begins.

She spoke on the issues encountered during project implementation and how they have been tackled, adding that the workforce for the project has been increased, and that international experts have also been brought into the country to build local capacity.

Minister Coker-Collins also mentioned that a rigorous monitoring process was also in place to ensure worth taxpayers and donor funds get their money’s worth. “For the RIA highway, we expect to do pavement before the rainy season.”

“We have started placing sub-base courses on both sides and expect to start from ELWA up to five kilometres. That’s why we are putting in a lot of time,” said further asserted.

The Minister also disclosed that the asphalt pavement of the stretch from the airport would begin and said the three-year project that started in September 2021 would end on schedule in 2024.

The project is pre-financed for a five-year period, which includes two years of “defence and maintenance” and there have been multiple concerns about East International’s ability to implement the multi-million dollars contract, especially in the absence of equipment.

Additionally, the framework calls for the project to be executed into three lots which include: 1) from Roberts International Airport to Junk River Bridge; 2) from Junk River Bridge to ELWA junction and; 3) the construction of the Junk River Bridge and the upgrading of the existing bridge.

The civil works with the actual construction of the road project is valued at US$80 million; design and supervision cost valued at US$7 million; and the management and resettlement action plan valued at US$7.5 million and the length of the road is 45 km or 27.8 miles.

The design of the road takes into consideration many factors, including population density, social activities, and topography, which led the highway into different sections. The new road, when completed, will have a toll location, which is the Junk River Bridge.

The RIA Road is a project that is long overdue because of the safety hazards presented by its narrowness and darkness. The RIA Highway has been a death trap since it was built in the 1940’s, during World War Two. In the 70 years of its existence, it has claimed the lives of thousands of unfortunate passengers, both Liberians and foreigners alike.

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