By Amin Kef (Ranger)
The significance of having well constructed road networks that will fast track socio-economic development cannot in any way be overemphasized in the light of facilitating the swift movement of pedestrian and vehicular movements and in the transportation of goods of varying sorts from one place to another. Road construction and rehabilitation form an integral part of infrastructural development which any development oriented political administration would like to roll out in order to lay the foundation on which various development projects could be sustainably implemented.
As the country is just emerging from peaceful multi-tier elections with the re-election of President Julius Maada Bio, a new Government will soon be formed to continue to map out and implement various programmes that are geared towards checkmating inflation and revamping the economy.
One area which the SLPP led Government, headed by President Julius Maada Bio, made significant gain during its first tenure in office was the road sector. Certain vital roads and bridges were constructed, rehabilitated and maintenance in different regions across the country.
Through the interventions of meaningful development partners, one of which is Pavi Fort Road Construction Company, the President’s development aspirations were and are still being solidly and seriously carried out in order to produce the desired effects or outcomes that suit His Excellency as far as fostering development is concerned.
It could be recalled that in his 2018 Manifesto, Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio made an electoral promise to the citizens of Sierra Leone that when he becomes President of the nation he will endeavour to give real meaning to his road construction projects at minimal costs contrary to the colossal sums of money of which it accused the erstwhile Government led by former President Ernest Bai Koroma to have wastefully or corruptly expended.
In translating its road manifesto agenda into reality Pavi Fort Road Construction Company, an indigenous civil engineering entity with a distinguished reputation, won contracts that were advertized and awarded by the Government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Works and the Sierra Leone Roads Authority (SLRA).
Founded and being judiciously managed by a competent Management team led by its Chief Executive Officer, Alhaji Alimu Barrie, Pavi Fort has commendably and positively contributed in actualizing the President’s road agenda that mainly borders on enhancing infrastructural development .
This result oriented and highly productive company, Pavi Fort, is at this current moment or stage seriously engaged or involved in the maintenance of township roads right across the country, with particular reference to Freetown, Lungi, Port Loko, Kenema and Kabala among other areas where major road works had been undertaken and completed.
Pavi Fort, has in recent times being involved in the maintenance of roads in Freetown , mainly in the Eastern and Central parts,comprising Kissy By Pass -Old Road, City Road – Old Road, Main Motor Road -Old Road, Bai Bureh Road (P.M.B Junction), Bai Bureh road (Portee Junction to Rokupa Junction, Bai Bureh Road (Texaco Junction), Bai Bureh (Texaco Junction to Old road Texaco, Bai Bureh Upgun Junction, Jenner Wright Road (Upgun Junction), Cline Town Round About, Fourah Bay Road (Kennedy St Junction), Kennedy Street, Fourah Bay Road (Bombay Junction), Fourah Bay Road (Clock Tower Junction), Circular Road (Model School Junction), Rokel Street -Model Junction to Parliament, Sani Abacha Street and the Regent-Jui Road.
As at present, concrete work is now in progress on the Regent Road by the Police Checkpoint.
What exactly the company is doing is the priming of the roads and overlaying of tar or asphalt and in some cases undertaking patching. Significantly, since it commenced work, some of the targeted roads have been successfully primed and overlaid whereas work is ongoing on others. Also, some of the drainages are sometimes cleared as was the case on the Regent Road where concrete work was done instead of using tar because of technical advantages and durability.
Lamentably, the long neglect and dilapidated state of the aforementioned roads really reduced them into seemingly death traps and caused various unsuspecting individuals to incur serious bone fractures or injuries as a result of mistakenly falling into gutters with broken slabs.
The good news is that due to the foresight and development ambition on the part of President Bio and the professional civil engineering works carried out by Pavi Fort Road Construction Company the risks posed by the bad state of these roads are now becoming things of the past.
Cognizance must be taken that prior to undertaking the maintenance of major township roads, Pavi Fort, was engrossed with the implementation of a World Bank funded programme known as the Integrated Resilient Urban Mobility Project (IRUMP).
The Ministry of Transport and Aviation on the 23rd July, 2020 signed an 11 Million Dollar World Bank funded Contract Agreement with Pavi Fort Construction company for the implementation of an aspect of the project.
As learnt, the project is geared towards improving the quality of public transport, address climate resilience, improve road safety in selected areas and enhance institutional capacity in the transport sector.
Pavi Fort undertook the implementation of the project in three areas or corridors namely: Kissy Ferry Junction, Congo Cross and Lumley and the works involved comprehensive corridor improvements that covered complete traffic management measures including intersection improvements, coordinated traffic lights, improvement of sidewalks for pedestrian movement, drainage, etc.
The company expanded the road from two lanes, on both sides, to three lanes, fixed a new drainage system to replace the old small clogged ones which will curtail or drastically reduce flooding on the road during the rains, and made provision for a traffic light to be fixed at the Ferry Junction intersection to control the traffic flow, fixed street lights, guard rails as well as convenient bus stops or parking spaces.
Similar construction and engineering works were also done by the company at Cong Cross and Lumley under the same project, IRUMP, and as it now stands, works in the three areas has reached 85% completion stage. What now remains for the company to do in those three locations is the installation of traffic lights, a work that was delayed because the company was waiting for the experts to jet-in in order to provide the service. However, the company has assured that it will embark on in the shortest possible time from now
Also, the road signs or furniture will also be rolled out and it is expected that by the end of July, 2023 that last aspect of the IRUMP will mark the final completion by Pavi Fort.
The company was also awarded the contract for the rehabilitation or maintenance of major streets in Lungi including the Maada Bio Street which is mainly used by Sea Bird passengers and Sea Coach officials. In that locality the company was involved in stone basing and tarring of damaged roads with the aim of minimizing the number of pot holes which by extension has greatly helped in minimizing the occurrence of accidents.
In Port Loko, the company is engrossed with landscaping, roofing and fixing of pillars on a one hundred bed hospital which was once used by NaCOVERC during the COVID-19 and transformed into a hospital. The company has successfully constructed 2 Kilometre of the projected 2.2km road, according to our reporter, who conducted an inspection and an interview. The company has also 100% the perimeter fence, the car park and tiling of the hospital facility as well as the laying of asphalt in demarcated areas within the facility. Work so far done on the 2.2km road has reached a stage of passing the hospital facility leading to a nearby village and had it not been for the rains it should have been completed by now. As at this material moment, the hospital is 99% completed only awaiting commissioning which is projected to take place at any given time from now.
When this medium caught up with Ing Momodu Jalloh, who is a Project Engineer of Pavi Fort Construction Company in Kenema, Eastern Sierra Leone, he articulately revealed that the entire project involves the rehabilitation and maintenance of 30 Kilometre stretch of roads within the Kenema Township.
He further disclosed the company is currently involved with asphalt work adding that work is expeditiously ongoing as there are no plans of them shutting down maintaining that recently they just took a one day break in order to give workers the opportunity to vote in the June 24, 2023 elections after which they resumed work.
Ing Jalloh also intimated that drainage work is also ongoing furthering how the work is divided into three phases.
“We have completed phase one which is a 10 kilometre of roads that we completed work on and at this stage we are on phase two with almost completing 5 kilometre out of 10 kilometres the phase encompasses,” he stated adding that hopefully, all things being equal, during this same period in 2024 the entire targeted 30 kilometres will be completed.
He pointed out that though the company is an indigenous entity their work output matches match international standards further assuring how their qualitative works always stand the test of time.
It could be recalled that on the 19th May, 2023 in Dogoloyia Town, Koinadugu district, a 261-kilometer road project linking Koinadugu with Falaba and Kono Districts was re-awarded to Pavi Fort with a view to reduce travel time and cost, improve service delivery time and promote the health condition of residents in that part of the country. The road is also known as the 261km Kabala-Krobola-Kono Road.
Interestingly, Pavi Fort Road Construction Company was first awarded the contract of constructing that road during the tenure of the erstwhile APC Government under the leadership of former President Ernest Bai Koroma but work came to a halt when there was a change of Government and funds were not forthcoming despite the fact that the contractor (Pavi Fort) had pre-financed the project.
Construction work was around 40% to 50% when the halt took place as a result of a change of Government and it negatively impinged the company.
According to the CEO of Pavi Fort, Alimu Barrie, if there is one thing for which he will remain grateful to President Bio for it is the re-awarding of the contract to his company especially as he had already spent hugely in pre-financing the project.
Work is earnestly in progress and according to the Public Relations Officer of Pavi Fort, only known as Dabor, culvert work is ongoing further revealing that priming and tarring work are being done. He debunked the false information that the company has terminated work saying they only stopped work for three days because of the elections also divulging how they recommenced work afterwards.
Dabor disclosed that because of the heavy rains they will have to stop work in August and resume on the 15th September, 2023 adding that for now stone pitching is taking place and the quarry is operating as well as the asphalt plant functioning well.
“90% of the culvert work has been completed,” he confidently reiterated.
In an engagement with Pavi Fort’s Director of Operations, Juel Bernard Lawson, he frankly informed that the secret behind the successes of the company hinges on the fact that though Pavi Fort is an indigenous company that employs local staff yet sometimes they hire the services of experts if the expertise could not be secured nationally furthering that when it comes to equipment the company has fleet of machines at its disposal to undertake various tasks.
Lawson also mentioned that they have asphalt plants at different locations as part of their decentralization strategy also disclosing how they have the best paver which is an electronic device with an expert controlling it and Sierra Leoneans understudying him.
Random interviews conducted by this medium, targeting residents within the different project sites where Pavi Fort is involved in the implementation, they gleefully and sincerely commended the company positively for delivering qualitative road works maintaining that the initiative taken by the Government, under the leadership of President Bio was indeed a right step taken in the right direction.
They further expressed delight that the works, after completion, will greatly enhance pedestrian and vehicular movements, lead to the longevity of vehicles and minimize flooding from taking place on some of the major roads due to poor drainages.
They extended gratitude to President Bio and Pavi Fort Construction Company for improving road networks right across the country maintaining that such will largely enhance national development at all levels.