Ambrose James, Director, National Authorizing Office (NAO)
The Director of the National Authorizing Office (NAO), which falls within the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development (MoPED), Ambrose James, has said that the Mabang Bridge, when completed, will contribute significantly to the social and economic growth of people in that part of the country which at the moment faces huge challenges. Furthermore, poverty will be reduced and livelihood activities, as well as local economy stimulation, will be boosted.
He made this statement at the launch of the 1st phase of the installation of the Mabang Bridge steel girders with a length of 163 meters. Mabang is a major link of the Songo-Moyamba road, connecting the southern part of the country. The bridge that links Koya Chiefdom in Port Loko and Ribbi Chiefdom in Moyamba District has been a major infrastructural challenge, since it collapsed in February 2013.
According to Mr James, the bridge costs slightly over 9 million Euros. He said it is expected to enhance trade and commerce and would no longer endanger the lives of residents, but will considerably improve travel time. Currently, dug-out canoes are the means of crossing and access to other towns and villages in that part of the country.
“So far we have utilized about 75 percent of the finances to build the Mabang Bridge, but for us, we are building bridges to connect communities and to ensure that goods and services are accessible to remote areas in communities. This would mean a lot for the local people in this part of the country,” said Mr James.
He also noted that the completion of the bridge will fulfil President Julius Maada Bio’s infrastructural, human capital development, economic diversification and other promises.
Engineer Vandi French, Director of Planning, Policy and Research, SLRA, said the project so far was in its advanced stage and that they were impressed at the quality of the work been done at the site. He said this was a critical milestone to the development of the country.
The Project Manager from CSE, Abdoulie Mbow, said the bridge after it’s completed would be expected to last for over 100 years. He said the 2nd phase would be very short, which would include 7 beams, welding, testing before finalizing the launching. He said the decks would be prepared, after the launching which would take two and half months to complete and then in February the completion of the bridge.
Alusine Koroma, the Chairman of the Driver’s Union at Mabang, said people in that part of the country are engaged in various commercial activities, and the bridge was an essential infrastructure for their daily survival. He thanked the Bio-led government for bringing such development to the people of the Mabang community.
“I buy most of my goods from the capital city, Freetown— and bring them to trade in villages, across the Ribbi River. We have suffered and have been cut off for so long. But with this bridge, our livelihoods will be back. President Bio is a Champion,” says Zainab Koroma, a local businesswoman.
The Mabang Bridge is part of Lot 2 of the global European Union-funded project, which costs 40.7 million Euros. It provides for the rehabilitation of 33km of road between Moyamba and Moyamba Junction, and four bridges. These include one over Gbangbama River, another over Yambatui River in Moyamba Town, and the construction of two-lane bridges over the Rokel River (Magbele Bridge) and the Ribi River (Mabang Bridge).