The Deputy head of delegation of the European Union (EU) to Sierra Leone Juan Antonio Frutos has spoken at the commissioning ceremony of the newly-constructed Mabang Bridge linking Koya to Ribbi.
He said he was very happy and honored to be at the event. He recalled that not even two months after the commissioning of a major EU-funded bridge over the Rokel River, not far away, here we are again, together for the commissioning of another major bridge funded by the European Union, under the partnership between Sierra Leone and the European Union, and built together with the Sierra Leone Roads Authority (SLRA), this time over the Ribbi River between Port Loko and Moyamba Districts.
He noted that many dedicated professionals of diverse tasks, responsibilities and skill-sets contributed to this achievement: engineers, managers, officials, accountants, politicians, secretaries … and others.
He thanked the committed people who worked for different types of organizations, who came from different regions and countries: Senegal, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Uganda, India, Tunisia, France, Netherlands and Sierra Leone and individuals who spoke an array of different languages at home with their families – Krio, Temne, Mende, English, Limba, French … and others to make the project a success!
“We are here right now in Port Loko district. Tonkolili district is around the corner and Moyamba district is just a stone throw away across the river. Coming from the Western Peninsula, this bridge over the Ribbi River is the first river crossing towards the South via the route through Mabang and the bridge over Rokel River in Port Loko is the first river crossing towards the North. Together with its “sister” in Magbele, this bridge is part of a package of road infrastructure projects that Sierra Leone and the European Union intend to round off before the 2023 rainy season,” Juan Antonio Frutos noted.
Other key parts of that road infrastructure package are the road links from Moyamba Town to Moyamba Junction and from Bandajuma to the Liberian border.
Beyond Magbele, Mabang, Moyamba and Bandajuma, Sierra Leone and the European Union have worked successfully together on many more road infrastructure improvements, besides the bridge and road package that brought us here today. These are essential roads for the country, among which I am proud to mention: the Masiaka-Bo highway including the widening of seven bridges; 85 km of road along the Freetown-Conakry highway; the Makeni-Kabala highway; 175Km of feeder roads in Koinadugu, Tonkolili and Bombali
This bridge over Ribbi River stands at a place where there was previously an old one-lane railway steel bridge converted for vehicular traffic. However, it collapsed in 2013. Since then, crossing the Ribbi at Mabang was only possible with a hand-pulled ferry and other small boats.
The benefits of bridges at places where previously there was no bridge are immense. They bring people closer together.
Sierra Leone and the EU have together worked on other bridges that replaced ferries, and chief among these is the bridge over the Moa river in Pujehun District. It creates connectivity to Liberia and it links the Zimmi end of Pujehun district to the district headquarter town, as well as to Bo town and the entire Bo District.
Coming back to where we are right now, the Mabang bridge is about 231 meters long, and made of composite steel-concrete structure. It is the longest bridge of this kind of structure constructed in recent times in Sierra Leone. It is 10.8 meters wide and of a dual carriageway to carry traffic in the opposite directions.
It consists of two abutments and two piers. The foundation of the bridge consists of end bearing piles of an average depth of about 31 meters.
Over 2,219 cubic meters of concrete (equivalent to about 148 standard dump trucks) were used for this construction.
The weight of steel used is over 1,051 Tons, equivalent to about 21,000 50 Kg bags of rice.
A total of about 548 meters of approach roads on either side of the bridge were also paved.
Bridges provide connectivity. Bridges create exchange and closeness. Bridges help make grow together what belongs together. By doing so, bridges can become powerful drivers of growth and better livelihood… particularly in countries characterized by diversity and regional differences. Bridges bring together countries, regions, districts, towns, villages, and most importantly, people.
He also state that what we witness at Ribbi River also is part of a large program of building bridges between nations, as this road is part of a network connecting the whole of West Africa. The European Union believes in the “Global Gateway”. The cooperation of the EU and Sierra Leone, our teamwork has contributed to more connectivity in the sub-region.
Below is what he said”
“Please allow me to mention that the cordial and strong partnership between Sierra Leone and the European Union not only extends to infrastructure projects.
“The EU is a longstanding, committed and reliable political and development partner of Sierra Leone, encouraging and supporting the consolidation and progress on peace, stability, democracy, governance and human rights in the country.
“We cooperate closely also on education, decentralisation, agriculture, environment, rural electrification, the management of public finances and many more sectors, important priorities of the Government in line with the National Development Plan.
“Team Europe, which includes the EU Delegation and EU member states, represented here today by the Irish Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Ms. Claire Buckley, is proud to be among the key partners of the great nation of Sierra Leone.
“Our dialogue with the Government of Sierra Leone and other stakeholders to identify concrete areas of support under the European Union’s Multi-Annual Indicative Programme for partnership and cooperation with Sierra Leone for the period until 2027 is in full swing.
“The priority areas of this new programme of the EU with Sierra Leone, in line with important priorities of the Government, are: Green Economy, including, access to sustainable energy, employment-oriented, agriculture food systems management and protection of ecosystems and biodiversity
“Human Development, including basic and secondary education, technical and vocational education and training, Governance and Human Rights, including support to, peaceful, inclusive, transparent and credible elections; effective governance and public service delivery, strengthening public finance management, transparency and domestic resource mobilisation
“Please allow me to express my gratitude once more to all who have helped build this bridge. I am grateful to witness today that His Excellency the President will commission this EU funded bridge to the people.
“D Salone Roads Authority (SLRA) en D European Union dae woke together. Na D European Union (EU) gee D money but we woke with D Salone Roads Authority (SLRA) for build this bridge. We gladi because, dis go help pipul dem. EU dae woke together with SLRA for Salone pipul dem.
Ar tell wuna all plenty tenki!”