Zachariah Jalloh – StratComm – MIC
The President of the Republic of Sierra Leone Dr Julius Maada Bio has officially commissioned the newly constructed Mabang Bridge, which has now been renamed, PC Ella Koblo Gulama Bridge.
The construction of the bridge falls under lot 2 of the 48 million Euro project titled “Moyamba-Moyamba Junction Roads and Bridges”, which also includes the 32.8 km Moyamba Town and Moyamba Junction Road, the 36-metre span Gbangbama Bridge, the 42-metre span Moyamba Bridge and the 163-metre length Magbele Bridge, all funded under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) The new 231 metre span Mabang steel bridge has a concrete deck across the Ribbi River, two abutments on both ends, two pillars in the middle and electricity powered by Solar.
In his keynote address, President Dr Julius Maada Bio spoke about the symbolism of the bridge, stating that, the bridge is a symbol of our national cohesion and connectivity. He expressed his profound happiness for seeing the completion of the bridge that connects the Northwestern and Southern regions of the countries. While also revealing plans for the construction of the road itself and how the negotiations are far advanced, the President expressed his determination to transform a total of six former ferry crossing to bridges, most of which are in the northern region of the county.
President Bio paid tribute to all those who lost their lives trying to cross the Ribbi River when there was no bridge and said that the new bridge will certainly save lives and ease movement of goods and humans.
Thanking the European union for their support to the project, President Bio stressed the fact that he was able to work with the EU to finish the bridge because he was serious and had the EU’s trust. He said that when the EU provided the funds for the reconstruction of the bridge in 2015, the then government failed to fulfil their part of their bargain and botched the project, leaving behind huge contractual debts, unpaid aggrieved workers and disgruntled landowners.
“When my government came in 2018, we paid all the debts the previous administration left, people whose lands were affected and the aggrieved workers all backlog salaries. That is how we were able the regain the confidence of the EU and today we are here celebrating another Sierra Leonean success.” He said.
The Director of National Authorizing Office, Mr. Ambrose James gave a brief background of the project, stating that the Geotechnical studies at the Mabang Bridge started in September 2018 and even though the soil posed a difficult challenge for the contractors they were able to finish the job and meet all the requirements. He thanked the European union for providing the funds and President Dr Julius Maada Bio for granting tax waivers to the consultants and the materials used for the bridge.
The Deputy Head of Delegation of the European union, Juan Antonio Frutos, said the cooperation between Sierra Leone and the European union goes beyond building roads and bridges.
“The cooperation between the EU and Sierra Leone includes working together in Education, Agriculture and Good Governance. We also believe that this bridge will bring people closer and improve the lives of thousands of Sierra Leoneans who will directly benefit from the link” he said.
The Minister of Development and Economic planning, Dr. Francis Kaikai, spoke about the economic impact of the bridge, while extolling the good relationship between Sierra Leone and development partners under President Bio. He emphasized that the European union continues to work with the Government of President Bio because of the Government’s commitment to good governance and human rights.
According to the Director General of SLRA, Engineer Amara Kanneh, the Mabang bridge has a lifespan of 100 years. He also thanked President Bio for keeping to his promise to finish all ongoing roads in the country.
Other speakers at the ceremony, including PC Koblo Quee and PC Charles Caulker VII of Marampa and Moyamba Chiefdoms respectively, expressed similar sentiments in appreciating President Bio for what he has done to connect two regions.
The Program was climaxed with the cutting of the ribbon, in the midst of joyous cultural performances from jubilant citizens in appreciation of the President.