Implementation of a Bridge Management System in Liberia
The following article presents the work conducted by the project “Capacity Development in the Transport Sector in Liberia”, which is implemented by GIZ and co-funded by the Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany (BMZ) and the EU:
With one of the highest pluviosity in the world, Liberia in West Africa has numerous rivers, which made the construction of bridges essential for the country’s connectivity.
In the fifteen years of Liberian civil wars, the registers, schemes and descriptions of bridges of Liberia got lost or destroyed. With the establishment of a democratically elected government, the reconstruction of the destroyed infrastructures belongs to its major tasks. Following the request for assistance for the implementation of a Bridge Management System (BMS) of the Ministry of Public Works (MPW) GIZ provided an Integrated Expert (IE), with a vast experience in bridge construction and bridge maintenance.
Picture 1: Liberia Road Condition 2016, Spatial Analysis for Transport Connective and Growth, Liberia, Cardno IT Transport, p. 21.
Task and Challenges
The BMS is a tool, which allows the entity to manage bridges throughout their design, construction, operation and maintenance. The tasks of the Bridge Management Team are:
- The implementation of functioning BMS (this includes the training of the local staff)
- The creation of a design office for structures, especially bridges
- Improvement of the quality control on bridge projects
As drawings of the bridges were destroyed, no database of the bridges was available up to the year 2017. Even the exact number of bridges was not known. The BMS had to start by the ground work, the creation of a database.
With the logistic assistance of the project Capacity Building in the Transport Sector in Liberia (CDTS), the Bridge Unit team of the MPW started the assessment of the structures. The result was an estimate for the costs of minor repair works. To obtain the names and the completion dates of many structures is not always possible.
Picture 2: Assessment of a bridge in Grand-Bassa, by Rigobert Kilu
As the drawings were not available, the first step was to get an overview of all bridges in Liberia and to make drawings of each of them. With approximate 4,000 bridges to start from a scratch was a Herculean task.
The Bridge Unit consists of only three civil engineers and a team leader (IE). To make sure the work can be completed in a shorter time, the Faculty of Civil Engineering of the University of Liberia was asked for assistance. The idea is to involve graduating students into the geometric reproduction of the structures, after those structures were measured under the supervision of an engineer of the Bridge Unit Team.
Even though, students and young engineers had strong disbelieve in their capacities, with peer-coaching, training on the job and constant feedback they could deliver high quality results.
Picture 3: A 3D drawing produced by the engineering students of the University of Liberia
Cooperation with Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC)
The Bridge Unit of the MPW successfully collaborated with Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). With advisory of the GIZ, compatible data formats between MPW and MCC were detected for the registration of the bridges to enable long-term usability of different IT systems. Finally, the full catalogisation of bridges in Liberia has started. At present, about 50% of the bridges in the country are recorded.
MCC provided 20 computers with the necessary CAD software to the University, while the young engineers of the Bridge Unit teach the students how to use it. The bridge data is captured, and digital drawings of the bridges are created. The results of this work have been accepted as high quality by the Volpe Center of the US Department of Transportation.
The project “Capacity Development in the Transport Sector in Liberia” is implemented by the GIZ and co-funded by the Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany (BMZ) and the EU.
Contact: Rigobert H N Kilu (Rigobert.Kilu@cimonline.de)
Project Director: Ulrich Thüer (email@example.com)