Works Minister Collins Gives Exit Statement -Outlines Achievements; Clarifies Allegations

MONROVIA: The outgoing Minister of Public Works, Madam Ruth Coker Collins yesterday delivered her exit statement to the media in Monrovia in which she outlined the achievements of the Ministry under her watch while clarifying allegations labelled on her in the media.

The Public Works Minister noted amongst other achievements the Ministry’s works on community and urban roads and City Streets during the period of Jan. 2018 – Dec. 2023, saying that the Ministry of Public Works during that period engaged 171.8km length of roads and completed 96.4km in and around Monrovia

Minister Coker Collins who traced her placement at the Ministry told the press conference that she began her journey at the Ministry in August 2020, when President George Manneh Weah appointed her to serve as Deputy Minister for Technical Services during the service of the late Mabutu Vlah Nyenpan as Minister of the institution.

“We worked collaboratively up to his passing when I was made Acting Minister and subsequently Minister of Public Works, June 2022,” the Outgoing Minister recalled.

The Ministry of Public Works under her stewardship, she explained, made significant strides in improving the road sector in Liberia, and added that the Ministry under her watch also carried out key reforms in the Ministry and the road sector in general.

She averred that when she inherited the 171.8km length of roads projects out of which 96.4km were completed, her focus was completion.

“We saw that the development of roads was about continuity; as such we were not focused on initiating what could be called ‘Signature projects’ but instead reached development to places for which contracts have already been signed as envisaged by the government of President Weah. We were fully briefed about the vision and agenda of His Excellency and from day one of our appointment we were fully prepared to move the agenda forward,” she maintained.

Notwithstanding, Minister Coker Collins and her team were all aware that the road challenges of our country run from Montserrado to Cape Mount, Bong to Lofa, Nimba to Grand Gedeh, Maryland to Grand Kru and from Sinoe to Rivercess.

“As Minister of Public Works, we initiated some major roads and community roads in various localities,” she noted:

With support of the WORLD BANK, the Ministry under Coker Collins rehabilitated and expanded 6.1km of the Coca Cola Factory to ELWA Junction Road Section, saying works on 5.99 km paved out of the 6.1km; design works roundabout at ELWA Junction completed; construction has started and will be completed in first quarter, 2024.

She said the project Affected Persons were compensated and funds allocation to address impact on petty traders in the environs of Red Light identified

Coker Collins who submitted a document containing a dossier of construction works and contracts, completion and other information to the media mentioned the rehabilitation of the 39km Ganta – Saclepea Road Milestone achieved June 2021 to December 31, 2023, saying works Status is asphalt binder course of 20km and Asphalt wearing course of 16km paved out of the 39km.

She mentioned an alternative plan to commence work on SECRAMP was discussed between GoL and IDA as part of the August 2020 mission.

Besides, she said GoL committed to frontload a total of US$36.4 million under NRF allocation, to intervene during the 2020/2021 construction Season on the 39km road section between Ganta and Saclepea using Limited International Bidding (LIB) method to procure contractor and consultant adding that commencement of works was on January 2, 2021.

Concerning Rehabilitation of the 61km Saclepea – Tappita Road Section Milestone Achieved January 2022 to December 31, 2023, Coker Collins pointed out that physical Progress Achieved to Date is 21% and itemized that mobilization, completed; camp site construction completed; Clearing/ Grubbing is 37km; Subgrade preparation- 15km; sub-base preparation – 24km; Pipe culverts – 41 nos out ‘96 installed; Box culverts, 10 nos. out of 14 installed.”

Accordingly, she disclosed that project affected persons were compensated; Abbreviated RAP additional PAPs, mainly covering compensation for graves and economic crops completed for submission to World Bank, and project financial status jointly funded by GOL and LRTF

She disclosed further that rehabilitation of Tappita to Toe Town Road Section(40km) Milestone was Achieved by December 2021 to December 31, 2023 in Collaboration with Ministry of Agriculture

The project approval by World Bank Board was done December 2021;  Procurement Process and Works Contract signature in August 18, 2023; Negotiation for conduct of Biodiversity Field Survey (BFS) in progress; Disbursement to contract to follow after the conduct of BFS Report is completed and disclosed while the Biodiversity field survey will take four to six months amongst other.

Amongst the many disclosures she made is the upgrading of the 37km Ganta to Sanniquellie Road Section for which the Chinese Company CHICO is the contractor and CSE (Senegal)

the consultant, stating that the Ministry didn’t sign the contract though, but the works met progress at 25%. “Currently at completion and ready for dedication.

She said the Ministry of Public Works will need to engage with the AML Management on funding requirements for Phase 2, the remaining rehabilitation of 30km between Saniquellie and Yekepa.

According to Minister Coker Collins, upgrading of Gbarnga to Salayea 81km Road Project is at its baseline status with contract yet not signed, highlighting that  she inherited work at 24%, but current status is at 94.4%;  67km out of 81km fully asphalt paved by the contractor CHICO and SaudConsult (Saudi Arabia) as consultant and funded by GOL and ARAB Donors.

Other Projects funded by the African Development Bank (ADB) including the Pavement of Fish Town to Kelipo (20km) status signed June 2022 for Which CHICO is also the Contractor is reported to be in progress at 64.84% completion.

Pavement of Sanniquellie to Loguatuo 47.1 KM for which China Railway Seventh Group (Liberia) Co. Ltd is the contractor was signed November 2020 at 31% completion but  is completed at 70%.

Highlights many other works in the Northeastern Nimba and other areas in the Southeast including Roadside Market Construction; the Karnplay City Kilipo to Zwedru City (River Gee to Zwedru road); construction of One Stop Border Post (Cavalla Border); Construction of Cavalla Bridge; Urban Mobility and Inland Waterway Feasibility Studies in Monrovia and Environs were amongst other work listed.

Under ECOWAS Bank Projects, the Minister listed

The Construction of the 96km Barclayville-Klowne- Sass Town Road Project while noting the Government of Liberia’s upgrading of the 45km RIA Road Project for which project she said concession agreement was amended and signed into law by the Legislature and President respectively.

For this stretch, she indicated that works on this are  satisfactorily progressing with 5km paved out of the 15km section from the ELWA Junction towards the RIA; and 3km on the Left-hand Side paved out of the 10km section from the RIA towards the ELWA Junction by the East international as contractor and subcontractor being China Rail Roald #5

Another road she highlighted in her dossier was the rehabilitation of the 42km Robertsport to Madina Road for which a company identified as West Africa was contracted supervised by the Ministry with physical at 15% completion, amongst others.

She spoke of the installation of street lights on the Major Roads within Monrovia to include ELWA Junction to Broad Street; Broad Street to St. Paul River Bridge; Pipeline Road; Archbishop Michael Francis Road (Chuckie Taylor Road); SKD Boulevard Road; Old Road; etc.

She hinted that construction of the pedestals commenced in September 2020, hence leading to the inauguration and commissioning of the streetlights from ELWA Junction to Vamoma by President Weah on October 1, 2020, and that completion is at 80%.

She also mentioned the ELWA Junction to SKD Boulevard Road sidewalks construction project (jointly implemented with the Armed Forces of Liberia) with contract signed with the Arm Forces of Liberia which she said is completed 100%

Other deliverables she mentioned were the acquisition of earthmoving equipment for the Ministry, contract signed concluded the procurement of 42pcs of earthmoving equipment for the purpose of the Ministry doing intervention works intended to keep our unpaved road corridors pliable all year round, 27 pcs have been supplied and delivered to the ministry of public Work, she said, pointing out that in total, the Ministry of Public Works was able to pave around 400Km of roads from 2018 to 2023.

“Members of the fourth estate, while the Ministry of Public Works is heavily engaged with construction of roads, the Ministry could not sort out all of the challenges within six years of this administration. Key among those challenges was financial. The COVID pandemic and climate change situation also led to many projects being stalled and in some instances abandoned,” she said.

She then closed on the note of clarifying allegations and misinformation that were aired by Stanton Witherspoon.

She said that some of his ill-informed panelists accused me of awarding a contract to my husband in the tune of two hundred and sixty thousand (US$260,000.00) for road works.

“I want to state categorically here that my husband has never been awarded a contract from the Ministry of Public Work. Since we challenged the Spoon Show on these allegations, character assassination and blackmail they are yet to prove their allegations which is sad for the sacred media profession,” the Minister further clarified.

She expressed hope that LACC does thoroughly look into this matter and close this chapter for the good of her character and that of our society, adding that she had become aware of the contract awarded to Bleco by the National Road Fund without my approval through FrontPage Africa January 8, 2024 edition.

“Bleco is owned by Sebastain Collins who has got no relationship whatsoever with my family. Accordingly, the nature of the contract, based on the report, was consultancy. Whether the contract went through PPCC or met all requirements as require, needs to be answered by the manager of NRF,” she defended her name, adding “… all I know or have seen about this contract and available at this Press Conference has got nothing about me, my signature or the Ministry of Public Works.”

She said Sebastain Collins is not her husband nor did he relate to her husband or our family. “I have never met this person and don’t know him or how he was awarded consultancy” she stressed.

She finally expressed pride in every work we did and said she remains happy that we drove President Weah’s road agenda to a phenomenal level as she wished the incoming administration of President Boakai “the very best, specifically my would-be successor.”

Vote of Thanks

She then gave God the glory for her services to the nation, appreciation to President Weah for his confidence reposed in her, felicitation to her deputies, Assistants, Directors and all employees of the Ministry of Public Works for the cooperation and support, and a very big thank you to all of Liberia partners including the World Bank, African Development Bank, Arab Donors (BADEA; SFD; OFID; KFAED), EU, European Investment Bank (EIB).

She also commended ECOWAS Bank for Investment & Development (EBID), UK Government, etc. for their support to the development of our infrastructures, especially our road infrastructure.

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