From the Minister’s Desk
I am proud and humbled to be acting as Minister of Works, Housing and Infrastructure at such a crucial time in the wake of infrastructural development in our country. The Government of His Excellency the President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has taken tremendous steps in raising the country from the era of under development to a period of economic progress and global recognition as a place fit for business. The vision and aspiration of His Excellency have inspired us to stand up strongly to the challenges for us to contribute to Sierra Leone’s Agenda for Prosperity. But I am grateful that though the mandate of my ministry poses huge challenges, my staff is committed to meeting the demands of our people. Government is faced with huge expenditure in meeting the cost of reconstructing major and feeder roads.
Road infrastructure projects so far have covered all roads linking provinces and cities, as well as the Sierra Leone-Guinea International Highway. Preparations for commencement for the reconstruction of the Sierra Leone-Liberia International Highway have begun. With my leading role in monitoring and supervising agencies and department under the purview of the Ministry, i.e. Sierra Leone Roads Authority (SLRA) and Road Maintenance Fund Administration (RMFA), we have succeeded in maintenance of roads in Freetown, Makeni, Bo and Kenema, as well as the Freetown-provincial Highway through major overlaying. The positive commendation being heaped on the Ministry by members of the travelling public, civil society organizations and media practitioners is a testimony of our increasing success. So also is the pace of on-going trunk road projects. Also, the Ministry has played crucial roles in ensuring SLRA and their contractors complete works on the Port Loko, Lunsar and Kambia Township roads reconstruction projects; roads including Beach Road, Kissy Road, etc have been done, while work is to start on the Fourah Bay Road, Mountain Cut and Macauley Streets by November, 2014.
Much progress has been achieved with Government-solely funded city and township roads maintenance in the provinces. The provision of office accommodation for Ministries, Departments and Agencies is another enormous task the Ministry is undertaking together with providing rents for private building and houses for offices and living quarters, refurbishment of Government Lodges, Buildings and payment of rates to councils and provision of subvention to affiliated professional bodies. It is also worth noting that the Ministry proffers technical and professional advice on architectural drawings and structural designs, civil works, mechanical and electrical works, building construction and regulation of quarry operations in the country. Thus, installation of seven lifts at Youyi Building has been done with advanced plan for a thorough facelift to be given to the complex. The positive synergy of the Ministry has been cascaded down to contracted local contractors that have been able to start refurbishment works on the Vice President’s Office, former Foreign Affairs Ministry Building now slated to be used by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Immigration Department, as well as raising additional three floors on top of the State House laundering and constructing the former State House staff Quarters for additional office spaces, in addition to a good number of government residential quarters that have been refurbished.
The policy of the Ministry engaging local contractors, which as Acting Minister have for the past one year been implementing has contributed to giving meaning to the Local Content Policy of Government. To strengthen these, we are presently reviewing all existing policies in enforcing our operations. The National Building Code is being developed. The code will detail urban and rural planning and construction combining with the National Housing Policy to complement “The Persons with Disabilities Act” of 2011 that provides for the elimination of all forms of access barrier to public buildings and places. We are also in the course of reviewing the Quarry Operations Policy; which, will look into the process of registration of companies, licenses, machine equipment, blasting and the adverse effect on the environment. The Government is committed to harmonizing the ECOWAS Treaty in our Traffic Laws on road safety and protection on Standards and Procedure for Control of Dimensions, Axle Load and Overloading of Vehicles as well as instituting Weigh Bridges so as to protect our roads from frequent deterioration with a heavy cost burden of maintenance. We are pretty confident that the review and adoption of policies will be enhanced early next year.
We are also focusing on construction of affordable houses. Currently, we are in partnership with the private sector in providing modern housing accommodation for our people and those who may choose to live in Sierra Leone. Examples of such projects are those being implemented by a Chinese company at Kerry Town, Freetown Peninsular and at Spur Road in the Western Area. Furthermore, the Ministry is constructing demonstration houses along the Freetown-Masiaka Highway as a prototype low-income housing project in the country. We are also responsible for the construction of houses to relocate indigenes of Mamamah Village, who will be affected by the construction of the Freetown-Mamamah International Airport and Airport City. Sadly, this year the Mano River Basin has been worse hit by the dreadful Ebola Virus greatly impacting the socio-economic growth we have been determining to achieve the country’s Agenda for Prosperity. However, even as we yearn for progress in the socio-economic sector, we are deeply sad of the loss of our beloved ones to this dreadful virus scaring the human existence. We are still faced with the challenge of caring for the many children orphaned by the deaths of their parents and so many other people who lost their family members that were once bread winners.
We have been through a complex trial time of our country’s history during; which, we endured a period of nightmare. We shall overcome this moment and surely continue building our lives. However, with strong prospect that the crisis will pass by end of the year the Ministry under my leadership is committed in ensuring pending projects relating to its mandate in the Agenda for Prosperity are executed during the course of next year or possibly even by November of this year. This is as a result of meetings held between myself and major road contractors wherein they have assured the Ministry and SLRA of their willingness to recommence activities by November, 2014. I may at this time thank our entire counterparts who in various ways have displayed their support for the people of Sierra Leone and assistance in the fight to eliminate the infectious spread of the virus. This indeed is a demonstration of true friendship and love for humanity for which the Ministry is grateful. I will assure His Excellency, the President of my fullest cooperation and will be genuinely work with him to change the infrastructural dreams of our people into reality.
Abdul B Barrie.