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A two days intensive consultative review process of conceptual designs for the construction of seven bridges along hand drawn ferry crossing points in various parts of the country is being conducted by the Small Holder Commercialization and Agribusiness Development Project (SCADeP) at the New Brookfield’s Hotel at Jomo Kenyata Road in Freetown.

The process which commenced on the 8th of June draws together engineers from the Sierra Leone Roads Authority (SLRA), consulting engineers from International Consulting Services (ICS) based in Sierra Leone, engineers from MARISWE based in South Africa, PCU staff of SCADeP and the fourth estate.

The two days meeting is the outcome of a previous visit by consultant civile engineers from South Africa who conducted arial, geological, soil sample and other surveys relevant to bridge construction along the seven ferry crossing sites for the development of conceptual designs for all the bridges to be constructed with a $ #30 M dollars fund from the World Bank in Sierra Leone.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Director of Feeder Roads Mr. Tamba Amara noted that the review process is very important and time bound recalling that the process had to be speeded up so as not to miss out on vital time frames set for the actual commencement of the bridges. He said the bridges themselves have been classified under two categories; class (a) and class (b) with the former being the priority ones while the class (b) roads are still been done but not with the high priority as the class (a) bridges. Mr. Amara, noted that all review comments are important as they will form part of the final design which will become the manual for the construction of the bridges.

Project Coordinator of SCADeP Mr. Sulaiman Sesay, stated that government through the SCADeP project is working with the consultants of MARISWE and ICS to undertake the conceptual designs through field studies and provide procurement support for the project and also supervise and monitor the construction of the bridges across river crossing points. “This is a very important assignment because the pronouncement of this work was actually done by his excellency the president retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio who had requested from the World Bank funding towards replacing manual cable ferry crossing points that we have at selected points in the country” Mr. Sulaiman Sesay said.

According to Mr. Sesay,, with funding from the World Bank and the government of Sierra Leone, the SCADeP project is to design seven of such bridges and finance the construction of a number of them based on the funding that is available. The first assignment which is the most critical side is the design part of it; “ because we cannot proceed to construction if we don’t have good designs” he noted. “ We are happy that the consultants have been able to turn in some draft conceptual designs in addition to submission of a resettlement action plan” he went on. Additionally, the consultants have also turned in an Environment and Social Impact Assessment (ISHIA) document which identifies the possible environmental and social safeguard issues and make recommendations on how those issues could be addressed. This aspect of the process is an important milestone and the review process is to capture the interest of everybody including the knowledge of all institutions that have a role to play in the construction process.

The consultants had earlier met with a cross section of the national feeder roads committee chaired by the Minister of Works and Public Asset including the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry which is the supervisory Ministry for the SCADeP project and other stakeholders. Those high level stakeholders had provided their own comments based on presentations made by the consultants on the draft conceptual designs.

After the completion of the review process the procurement process for the construction of the bridges will commence.

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