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At an epoch-making event at the George Street office of the Minister of Finance Mr. Dennis Vandy, SCADeP through the Ministry of Agriculture achieved another mile stone in the facilitation of the signing of contracts for the construction of two bridges at the Manowa and Tomparie manual ferry crossing points in the Karene and Kailahun Districts in the Northern and eastern Provinces of Sierra Leone.

In a well-attended ceremony on Wednesday 5th October, the minister of finance Mr. Dennis Vandy together with his counterparts ministers from the ministry of Agriculture Dr. Abubakarr Karim and Minister of Works Peter Konteh, along with deputy ministers, permanent secretaries of the line ministries, the Chairmen of the Karene and Kailahun district Councils John Dito Kamara and Sahr Amed Lamin, Paramount Chief Kandeh Sorie Kankanday of Tambaka Simibungbe Chiefdom, Paramount Chief Henry H. Barou of Pejeh Bonge Chiefdom and the contractor Mr. Hamidu Diof of the Alown/ JDF JV construction company, the contracts were signed to formalising the commencement of the construction of the brides. Each bridge costs $ 7.5 million dollars spanning lengths of over 150 meters each.

In a brief remark, SCADeP Project Coordinator Mr. Sulaiman Sorie Sesay noted that SCADeP in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, SLRA and the Ministry of Finance had come a long way towards this formal contractual signing to take place through a competitive bidding process for which the Alown/JDF JV construction company emerged successful. He said the government had been working tirelessly in to practicalise the designing and construction of several identified manual cable ferry crossing points around the country. In about seven crossing points identified, Tompare in the northern provincial district of Karene and Manowa in the Kailahun district which are under Lot 1 and Lot 4 respectively are the first phase for construction in which the procurement process has been vigorously completed.

SLRA Director of Feeder Roads Tamba Amara highlighted the significance of the process indicating that the services of two engineering consulting entities ICS Sierra Leone and MARISWE South Africa were contracted and given the assignments for geological surveys, conceptual designs of the bridges and geo tech information gathering for the construction process. The contract for the bridges he said are on design and build basis. Inclusive in the procurement process he noted were staff management issues, machinery and other relevant mechanisms to be put in place while the contractor will also be required to submit a phase-by-phase design.

SCADeP Social Safeguards Officer Nafisatu Koroma informed the gathering that Environmental Social Health Impact Assessment and a Resettlement Action Plans (RAP) had been prepared with the motive of ensuring that while the construction is on course it will be for the purpose of doing good rather harming the environment and social status of the beneficiary communities whom she noted had also been engaged.

Chairman of the Karene District Council Mr. Bambito Kamara and his colleague Chairman from the Kailahun District Council expressed great satisfaction for a major infrastructural development in their districts noting that it will not only connect key towns and villages, will enhance agricultural productivity and development in their areas. They expressed their appreciation to His Excellency the president for making their dreams come true noting the risks that the current state of the crossing points poses to their communities. They pledged that they will ensure their people support the construction to the fullest.

Paramount Chief of Pejeh Bongay Chiefdom in the Kailahun District PC Henry H. Barou highlighted the strategic importance of the bridge in connecting Pejeh Bongay and Pejeh west and the upper Bambara Chiefdoms recalling that the SCADeP secretariat has been consulting and involving them throughout the process of site visits and preparation for the construction of the bridge. Paramount Chief Kandeh Sorie Kankanday of the Tambaka Chiefdom in the Karene district said the bridge will benefit the entire northern province as it connects the Kambia district to the Kamakwe town and Kionadugu ditrict and prayed that the realisation of the construction becomes fruitful.

Alown/HDF JV construction company contractor assured the minister of finance that the confidence bestowed on his company will be sustained and upheld by doing all they can to undertake the construction in due time and in quality.

Minister of Works Mr. Peter Bayuku Konteh said that he was very happy because it has to do with massive infrastructure and went on to express satisfaction that his ministry will give the necessary oversight to the projects. He noted that in construction processes such as this, he always looks forward to standards such as value for money and timely implementation.

Hon. Minister of Agriculture Mr. Abubakarr Karim emphasised how happy he is because the construction of the bridges has been a long-drawn activity. He revealed that he actually inherited the proposed bridges from the current minister of Finance while thanking the SCADeP PCU for the hard work also pointing to the fact that such a project is vital for market access improvement and linkages which are critical for diversified and accelerated agricultural production. He stated that agriculture is one of the human capital development benchmarks which His Excellency the president wants to see happen. He said the Ministry of Agriculture will be working closely with all implementing partners to see that the bridges are built successfully.

Mr. Dennis Vandy, Minister of Agriculture revealed that the president wants the urgent realization and practical construction of the bridges noting that the president has requested more funding from the World Bank for the construction of new bridges but that it is prudent that work commence on those for which funding had already been secured. He admonished the contractor not to let the government and its people down. He reiterated hope that the contractor will ensure safeguard processes during the course of the implementation.

© SCADeP Communication.

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