The Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) says the Government of Liberia has acquired a commitment of US$300m from the World Bank to construct a dam in Bong County.

During a recent high-power delegation’s visit to Bong County, LEC Corporate Communication Manager Mr. Philip Farley said that the people are excited and have welcomed the dam construction in their area.

Mr. Farley described the acquisition of the World Bank commitment as a great step in achieving the project while expressing optimism for the remaining.

He said President Joseph Nyumah Boakai told the World Bank and everyone that his hand was behind the new project during a recent round table energy discussion with the president.

“Let me tell you, the president, after listening to the World Bank delegation explaining about this project, he accepted and said they have his 100% support,” said Mr. Farley.

“And so, we are so happy for the welcome and gifts you have provided us. We will make you happy,” he noted.

Over the weekend, a high-power delegation from the World Bank West Region office, Liberia’s Ministry of Mines and Energy, and the LEC visited Valayanah, lower Bong.

During the visit, the delegation held stakeholders’ engagement with residents for the construction of the proposed St. Paul 2 hydropower dam project (SP2).

Franz Drees-Gross, a US and German national, is the Director of Infrastructure in the World Bank’s Africa West region. Dress-Gross headed the World Bank team, while Mr. Monie, Captain and LEC Executive Director, headed the project implementation unit (PIU).

The Ministry of Mines and Energy represented the Government of Liberia. Mr. Bill Harkins, the project manager, and Mr. William Thompson, the project engagement consultant, were also on the delegation.

The objective of the delegation was to see the exact location of the project and have joint in-house or town hall engagement and interaction with the community.

The visit was also intended to examine the area’s topography and receive a technical brief from the project manager.

The joint assessment aligned with President Boakai’s first Energy Sector Round Table at the Executive Mansion, which included key stakeholders in the sector.

At that Energy Sector Round Table, President Boakai supported the project 100%, and the World Bank committed to US$300 million.

This interaction with the communities and the visitation of the site, coupled with the technical brief of the project, were part of the initiative’s feasibility studies, which indicate that work has already commenced.

The project’s average cost is estimated at around six million United States dollars. The Government of Liberia has received a commitment of three million United States Dollars from the World Bank.

SP2 is an initiative of the Government of Liberia, which is represented by the Ministry of Mines and Energy and development partners, particularly the World Bank.

The initiative will be implemented by the LEC through its PIU.

During the engagement, the delegation was received at the town’s entrance by a women’s group, elders, and youth who sang songs and presented gifts, including rice, white male chicken, and money.

In a technical brief to the World Bank delegation, Mr. Bill Hakins, Project Manager, said the SP2 is the second project of the St. Paul River hydropower cascade, and it’s divided into four main components.

According to him, the project has 6.5 km of dams, including main and saddle dams, creating a reservoir of 264 million c.m.

He disclosed that the third component includes about 80 km of 225kv transmission line connecting the project to the Mount Coffee substation and upgrading a 27km access road from Bong Mines to the project site.

“More feasibility [studies] will be released over the next months, weeks, and years, and that includes the economic, environmental, and social safeguard studies,” he added.

“These studies are going to guide the plan for the project by looking at [the] transmission line, farmland, the safety of homes and the water, and also the animals living there.”

If there is a means for relocation, he said, all of those things will be addressed.

Speaking during the Town Hall meeting with the residents, World Bank Regional Director Mr. Franz Dress-Gross extolled the locals for the warm welcome.

He expressed happiness that they have demonstrated love for the project.

According to him, recently, they met with President Boakai during a roundtable discussion on the energy sector held at the Executive Mansion. He said they talked about the project, and the president understood. He said they would build the dam.

” Today, we have come to hear from you if you want this dam. The World Bank has built dams in many countries. We want this project to bring light to the Liberian people. This project is big,” he told the locals.

SOURCE: New Dawn

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