Themed achieving sustainable rural feeder roads in Sierra Leone, the minister said in order to ensure sustainability of rural feeder roads, all donor funded projects on feeder roads should now be channeled through the Sierra Leone Roads Authority (SLRA), an institution with the requisite engineers to construct and maintain rural feeder roads.
“I believe in producing results. This is not a one-man show. That’s why we have brought together all the stakeholders in the road sector to discuss and come up with decisions to make the rural feeder roads sustainable,” he said.
He said in the specific area of feeder roads, his ministry has identified strategic interventions which, when accomplished, will enhance their role and operational significance, adding that they include, but not limited to, the following-rehabilitation and sustained maintenance of the existing network to maximize their contribution to socio-economic development of our country, introduction of modern technology to ensure sustainability, strengthening road infrastructure institutions through restructuring and capacity building.
“Other interventions are ensuring that road user fees are irrevocably dedicated to road maintenance and improvement, and with effect from 2020, all feeder road operations are properly planned and budgeted, based on the use of machinery and polymass and labour-based technologies, all donor funds are channeled through the SLRA to obviate the duplication of efforts and to ensure that the overheads do not exceed the actual maintenance costs of feeder road operations,” he noted.
“This government has made a commitment to open up the country and this retreat is one of the ways to achieve that. Once the rural feeder roads are improved on, there would be free-flow of agricultural products and other goods, which would subsequently accelerate economic growth and improve the lives of the rural poor,” he said.
He thanked donor partners for their support in the development of feeder roads in the country.
SLRA’s Director General, Engineer Amara H.J Kanneh, said his institution has the mandate to construct and manage all roads in Sierra Leone including feeder roads.
He said donor funds are mostly used for the rehabilitation of feeder roads, disclosing that since 2010 to present, a whopping sum of US$35 million was given by donors to rehabilitate feeder roads.
He noted that despite that amount of money invested by donors, 60 percent of rural feeder roads are still in bad shape.
“If that amount would be given to the current administrators at SLRA, much would have been achieved in the development of rural feeder roads. But a retreat of this nature, would address some of the gaps in the development of feeder roads,” he said.
Chairman, Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Works and Public Assets, Hon. Bashiru Silikie, said the retreat was to have a deep retrospection into the road sector.
He said the retreat is combination of concerted efforts by the Ministry of Works and Public Assets and its supervised agency-SLRA-to address the challenges that are faced with the development of feeder roads.
“When these challenges are overcome, the lives of our rural poor would be improved on,” he said.
Deputy Minister of Works and Public Assets, Hon. Philip Tetema Tondoneh, said his ministry invited and encouraged players in the road sector to support SLRA in addressing the challenges in the development of rural feeder roads.
He urged participants to identify the issues affecting rural feeder roads and effectively discuss them and come up with solutions.
“We encourage independent voices to address the gaps in the rural feeder roads. When these roads are improved on, the lives of the rural poor would be enhanced,” he said.