The civil works component includes: the rehabilitation of 70km of road (Section 1) between Matotoka and Yiye, rehabilitation of 20km of feeder road and rehabilitation of social infrastructure including, 3 schools, 1 market and 1 hospital. The consultancy services component includes: environmental and social impact mitigation measures, supervision of civil works, monitoring and evaluation, sensitisation of project area inhabitants on TB,HIV/AIDS and STIs; malaria and water related diseases; ownership and environmental protection, and sensitization of project area inhabitants on road safety, which the audit component comprises the financial and technical aspects of the project.
The project was launched on 26th July 2013 and the first payment disbursement to the contract made on 21st November 2013 and it is expected to be completed 0n 6th November 2016. However, this date has been extended to eleven months because of the lull in the project works caused by the Ebola outbreak. It will therefore be completed on 6th November 2017. The Salini Impregilo S.p.A is the contractor and the entire project costs USD 23,010,334.70 (twenty-three million, and ten thousand, three hundred and thirty four million US Dollars).
A total of 42Km of road has been completed and the culverts along that section of the road are 100% complete with only inlet and outlet protection works ongoing. The rehabilitation of deep culverts and construction of social infrastructure are ongoing, while rehabilitation works are 40% completed.
According to the Project Manager at the Sierra Leone Roads Authority (SLRA), the project is encountering a technical, management and financial challenges. Among other challenges, he mentioned that there were design inadequacies during the design of the project which led to a review of the project and modification of the design. This he maintained slowed down earlier progress of the project. He also mentioned “low community and other key stakeholder involvement in the planning stage” and the non availability of baseline data to establish the social and environmental impacts of the project, inadequate donor coordination and the lack of support to the Project Implementing Unit. He highlighted delays in the processing and withdrawal of applications of Contractor/Consultant’s IPCs/Invoices, etc., because of many intermediary points and the late payment of compensation and its financial implications and these, he stated, caused delays in handing over of site.
A major observation by the African Development Bank (AfDB)staff during the review was that a meeting of all stakeholders of the project should sit around the table “to look at the bigger picture of the project and its players so as to be able to identify issues that are bottlenecks in the project’s processing line to avoid blame game.” According to the AfDB, such a move will ensure that all the players in the project game are on the same level of understanding of what is happening along the project line and workflow. The AfDB therefore insists that the Project Manager should hold contractors liable and responsible for their work plans if they do not meet deadlines and that certificate of extension should be a matter of last resort in extreme case scenarios, noting that for any extension, there is a cost implication incurred by the donor and counterpart funders.
In view of these and other challenges discussed, the following recommendations were reached for the attention of stakeholders: to build the capacity of implementing agencies’ in-house staff to be able to review designs submitted by consultants, a thorough sensitization to be done during appraisal stages and to involve community and key stakeholders; to conduct a proper sensitization to enable beneficiaries identify their priorities needs with respect to the available budget, ensure ccommunity consultations and coordination with other donor agencies at planning stage, streamline payment process to avoid delays and intensive follow-ups on the part of line Ministries.