From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

SLPP Frustrated as Kono Highway Gets Full Funding
By Aruna Turay
Mar 21, 2013, 17:16

Funds for the construction of the full-length stretch of long-awaited Kono Highway (i.e: Matotoka-Sefadu), have all now been secured through untiring efforts of His Excellency President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma who is leader of ruling All Peoples Congress (APC). This was announced yesterday March 20th 2013, during the signing ceremony of an agreement to fund the Yiye to Sefadu segment of Kono Highway. However, though this laudable effort has brought pride and smiles to Kono people, it has brought a palpable level of frustration to major stakeholders of the opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) who had long been using the defunct state of Kono road as a campaign tool against the APC.  SLPP, when in governance from 1996 to 2007, had ignored the need to construct the Kono Highway but during the past 2012 elections campaigns, SLPP vigorously told the people of Kono that the APC had neglected to build Kono Highway but had been developing parts of the neighbouring Kailahun district highway.


The propaganda had worked to some extent as many Kono voters had made the poor road network into their district as an elections issue.


Therefore, in a bid to get the SLPPs views on this latest development, this newspaper contacted many senior SLPP stakeholders yesterday but they all refused to positively express acknowledgement on worthwhile securing of funds.


None of the SLPP stakeholders agreed to be placed on recorded interview as acknowledging that the ruling party deserves praises for being able to convince lending agencies to fund the Kono road.


However, whilst SLPP opposition were sulking at the development, Chairman of the Kono District Local Council, Dr. Richard A. Koninga, was effusive in his praises of both ruling APC party and President Koroma.


Dr. Richard Koninga described the confirmed securing of needed funds as important in the political scenario of the Kono people.


Indeed, the importance of the road now coming to fruition along its full length from Matotoka in Tonkolili district which borders Kono, right into Sefadu town in the heart of Kono district cannot be over-emphasised.


The poor state of the entrance stretch of road from Tonkolili into Kono district has continued to be a burning issue to the poor residents and indigenes of Kono who have suffered the ignominy of travelling on the terrible road network for many years now.


Regime after regime have come with promises to construct a modern and sustainable highway into Kono but until now, it has remained nothing but a dream.


It is the above backdrop which was behind the words of Finance Minister Dr. Kaifala Marah yesterday.


The myth is broken. When President Koroma last year went to Kono and said the full stretch of the road all the way from Matotoka to Yiye onto Sefadu will be done, sceptics said it would not be done. Today, my signing of this agreement is a demonstration that when Mr. President said yes, he meant yes. He meant it all, Dr. Kaifala Marah proudly stated adding a call for applause of the President.


Please let us applaud this man who has a vision for his people and who, knowing the economic potential that this road will provide for Kono district, has gone all out to ensure his government secures the money to build the entire stretch of the Kono Highway, Dr. Marah loftily said as he signed a loan agreement of Sixty-Five Million United States Dollars with the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED).


The signing ceremony which took place at the ministrys conference room on George Street in Freetown was done by Dr. Kaifala Marah and the Deputy Director-General of the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, Mr. Ghanem Sulaiman Al-Ghenaiman.


In his formal speech, the Finance Minister, Dr. Kaifala Marah on behalf of President Koroma and the people of Sierra Leone, thanked the Kuwait Fund for its interventions in the development objectives of Sierra Leone.


The 120km Matotoka-Sefadu Road he went on, is a strategic road link connecting the administrative district of Tonkolili and Kono in Sierra Leone. He said the road was first constructed about 40years ago but it is now in a deplorable condition.


The minister revealed that the total cost for the rehabilitation of the Matotoka-Sefadu Road was estimated at US$73.48 million. He said although it was governments desire to construct the entire length of the road at the same time, the funding required made it impossible to do so all at once so the project had been divided into sections, Matotoka-Yiye and Yiye-Sefadu, for construction purpose.


Accordingly, Minister Marah further revealed, Government solicited funding from the African Development Bank (ADB) and the Opec Fund to start the construction of the first phase of the Road, noting that the procurement for the first phase of the project (Matotoka to Yiye) was concluded in 2012 and the winning contractors will soon be on site.


In response, the Deputy Director General of KFAED, Mr. Ghanem Sulaiman Al-Ghenaiman said, the Kuwait Fund will be more than always ready to sign more loan agreements with Sierra Leone for the countrys development projects. He praised Sierra Leone for its ongoing tremendous and rapid development in all sectors.


The Deputy Director General said they are looking forward for an invitation to witness the commissioning of the Kono Highway when it would have been completed and hoped that the highway will serve its intended purposes on its completion.


It is a fact that under the visionary leadership of President Koroma, this country has witnessed an un-matched level of construction in many aspects of infrastructure all over the country.


The entire country is like a works yard with ongoing modern roads construction taking place simultaneously in many districts.


The latest United Nations Human Development Index has reflected this upsurge in development.


Sierra Leone is now ranked as the African country with the highest speed of development for its citizens.


Worldwide, the country is placed in second position.

All of this is because of untiring efforts of ruling APC to ensure the country develops.

© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.