Liberian team visits Sierra Leone on National Road Fund study tour

Freetown, May 27- 29, 2021: A High-powered Liberian Government delegation on Friday concluded a 3-day working visit to the Republic of Sierra Leone with the aim of exploring and adopting best practices related to the management, control, development and maintenance of national road network in order to provide safe, reliable and sustainable means of transport in Liberia.

A press release from the National Road Fund (NRF) Office says particular emphasis was placed on the Toll System, which is greatly helping to improve road management in that neighboring Country coupled with its potential of revenue generation in addition to fuel levy. Currently for the past wo years the Sierra Leone Road Fund Administration has generated approximately 10 million in toll revenue. Additionally, Ethiopian officials reported that it has generated over 13 million in toll revenue.

The primary Objectives of the “Mano River study tour” has become very necessary for the following reasons:

  1. As a peer review mechanism which will set the basis for sustained and continuous collaboration;
  2. To begin data collection process for the proposed national toll policy;
  3. To learn and/or adopt best practices from the Sierra Leone experience (activities, technologies, approaches, legal and regulatory framework and infrastructure, etc.);
  4. Built further technical expertise among NRF and MPW technical teams;
  5. Hold a Knowledge Exchange Section between SLRA and NRF.

Currently in Liberia fuel levy is the core source of funding to the road fund program. The National Road Fund Act of December 12, 2016 Session 5.2 provides for road user charging system which includes:

  • Charges on motor vehicles traveling within the Road Network of the Republic of Liberia, whether foreign or national (toll fee), based upon the vehicle’s mass, length, width, height, loading, number of axles, distance covered or a combination of all of the factors mentioned herein. 
  • Entry fees levied on all foreign vehicle entering the territory of the Republic of Liberia.
  • Registration and license fees of motor vehicles entering the territory of the Republic of Liberia.
  • A levy on every gallon of petroleum product imported into the country.

According to the Road Manager Mr. Boniface D. Satu stakeholders of the road fund system in Liberia are identifying additional road user charges and other sources of funding of road works in Liberia including the development of a Toll policy similar to that of the Sierra Leone.  Sometime last year the NRF commissioned National Road User Charges System Study which has been completed ready for execution. Financial institution has expressed their interest in financing the Toll Booth system both national and international. The NRF and donors (AfDB) made several trips on fact findings to various countries which includes, Ghana, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe.  

The tour funded under the auspices of the National Road Fund gave firsthand information on strategies employed by that country to fund more works related to rehabilitation, maintenance and construction of roads and bridges at national and local levels. 

Sierra Leone’s Road Fund Law also supports Public Private Partnership (PPP) in which companies enter into pre-financing agreements with repayment plans spanning over certain number of years. It is in line with the PPP policy that a Chinese Company named China Railway Seventh Group (CRSG) has expanded a 61.8km highway linking Freetown where the investor installed three Toll gates serving over thirty thousand vehicles with millions of Sierra Leonean Dollars being generated daily. According to executive of the Sierra Leonean authorities the construction of the 61.8 kilometer road along with the three toll gates valued at least 153 million Untied States Dollars. The Tool system is addition to the four United States cents ($.04 USD) user fee being charged per litter of petroleum product sold on the market.

According to the NRF press release the delegation comprised members of the Inter-Ministerial Steering Committee (IMSC) on the Road Fund, Members of the House Committee on Public Works and the NRF Secretariat. 

Senior IMSC members on the Delegation are the IMSC’s Chair and Acting Public Works Minister Honorable Ruth Coker-Collins, Internal Affairs Minister Honorable Varney Sirleaf and Minister of Commerce and Industry Honorable Mawine Diggs. The Chair on the House Committee on Public Works Honorable Matthew Joe, Honorable P. Mike Jury and Honorable Francis S. Dopoh all of the Legislature were on the delegation. National Road Fund Manager Mr. Boniface D. Sartu and his Program Officer Mr. Prince Nemrode were among members of the Liberian team. 

Speaking at the opening ceremony in Freetown, Acting Public Works Minister and Chair of the IMSC who also headed the delegation, Honorable Ruth Coker-Collins said the visit was to learn the good experiences of Sierra Leone for the attainment of President George Manneh Weah’s goal of improved road connectivity in Liberia.

Also in Freetown was Internal Affairs Minister, Honorable Varney A. Sirleaf who a member of the Inter-Ministerial Committee. Minister Sirleaf was particularly keen on how Road Maintenance Administration (RMFA) of Sierra Leone allocates 20% of the revenue to the 22 Local Councils for rehabilitation and maintenance of feeder roads. The local councils were in line with the country’s decentralization program as laid out in its 2014 Local Government Act. Minister Sirleaf praised the ongoing road works, especially the new pavement from the Liberian border to Freetown which is nearing completion, noting, road connectivity reinforces the spirit of the Mano River Union on the promotion of trade in the region.

Minister of Commerce and Industry Honorable Mawine Diggs asserted that connecting the countries by paved roads would further improve commerce thereby make doing business easier. 

For his part, Representative Matthew Joe who headed the House’ Committee on Public Works said he and his colleagues had gone on the study tour to work the Counterparts to review laws and policies on Toll system with the intent to develop same for Liberia.

Other members of the delegation were Representatives P. Mike Jury and Honorable Francis S. Dopoh all of the Legislature and National Road Fund Program Officer Mr. Prince Nemrode.

The delegation also held experience-sharing sessions with the Sierra Leonean counterparts on how both countries have implemented their Road Programs which were recently adopted. There were PowerPoint presentations made by both countries and the tour many facilities including the Toll gates and tollgate monitoring room. Meanwhile, a team from Sierra Leone is due in Liberia shortly in continuation of the experience sharing exercise. 

The major take away is that SLRFA is fully independent 2nd generation fund, completed the entire road sector reform require by international partners and funds are directly credited to their escrow account through single treasury account. The release concluded.

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