Residents of Wartehken and Gbolobo Nimeken towns in Pleebo Statutory Soloden District in Maryland County have expressed frustrations over the delay in the construction of a US$35,000 bridge linking the two towns around the cavalla river belt.
According to the aggrieved residents of both towns, the construction of the bridge started in 2021, when the statutory superintendent of the District, Aloysius Williams, broke ground for the construction of the bridge. Since then, however, there has been no sign of completing the bridge project. The residents said as it stands they cannot tell what has delayed the completion of the bridge, despite funds identified to get it done.
They said that US$35,000 was earmarked for the construction but later learned that only US$10,000 has so far been utilized. Meanwhile, Aloysius Williams, the statutory Superintendent, and Robin Scott, the County Development superintendent, have reassured the residents that the bridge project will be carried on.
Both authorities of the county have promised that the US$35,000 allotted for the construction of the bridge will still be used because it is a resolution that was agreed upon by the previous county council sitting in December 2019. Friday Dennis, an elder of Wartehken Town, said the delay in completing the Bridge has created a serious setback for them as citizens.
“This has created a serious setback for school-going kids of both towns thereby leaving them with no option but to travel long distances to attend schools,” he said.
According to him, residents of Wartehken are finding it very difficult to access health care delivery services as the only health facility is in Nimeken, which is currently inaccessible. Elder Dennis has since expressed serious concern as to whether this bridge construction will be completed because, as it stands now, the cavalla river banks are overflowing, a situation he says has the propensity to continuously delay the work.
“The residents of both Wartehken and Gbolobo Nimeken saw the construction of the bridge as a great relief but, as it stands now, we are left in limbo as to whether we will have it completed one day. We are suffering because our children are not in school and we cannot go to the clinic for health services”, Friday Dennis lamented.
Also, a youth leader Mark Cooper of Gbolobo Nimeken has called on the local authority to fast-track the completion of the bridge. He said anything outside of constructing the bridge will not be accepted by them as it is alleged that county authorities want to construct a culvert instead of a proper bridge.
“The designated area for the bridge construction is not good for a culvert; but only a bridge can go there, due to its close proximity to the cavalla river,” youth leader Mark Cooper noted.
Cooper further said that the current temporary traditional bridge is the only one they used to enable them to access the next town, but its condition is not good.
“It poses a serious danger to kids of both towns while crossing on the bridge by this time, as the river is getting over flooded,” he explained.
The Maryland County Project Management Committee (PMC) chairman, Lawrence Kyne, said given the fact that the bridge project has been delayed, the citizens have all right to know what has caused the delay.
According to him, the delay in the project was based on the criteria set by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning. He said for a project to be awarded to any contractor, the contractor must be able to pre-finance the project for about 30% to 60% cash.
“The bridge construction project was in 2021 awarded to Sammy Group of Company, who succeeded in completing the basement of the bridge,” he disclosed.
The PMC chairman added that bureaucracy associated with the withdrawal of development funds from the bank was a key reason for the delay in completing the project. According to him, the county does not have a separate account but a joint account with the central government.
Kyne added that before the contract was awarded to Sammy Group of Company, the contractor’s documents were all up to date. However, due to the delay to get money, some of the documents expired and had to be renewed.
He said that is one of the several reasons that have also been attributed to the delay in the project. “As it stands now, we have succeeded in getting a portion of the US$35,000 and it has been placed in the contractor’s account,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kyne has dispelled claims by residents of both Wartehken and Gbolobo Nimeken that the county superintendent, George Andrew Prowd, has decided to reduce the US$35,000 allotted for the construction of the bridge to US$10,000.
Kyne said such claims are to his knowledge as PMC chairman and could not be true. He recalled that it was agreed upon by the county council at the 2019 county sitting that, before any change be altered in the resolution, the county has to reconvene a special sitting by the county council. According to him, no special sitting has not been convened so far.
He has however reassured the residents of both Wartehken and Gbolobo Nimeken that the bridge will be constructed and that there is nothing that can stop the project.
The county has resolved to carry on the bridge construction, as is important to both towns and it will bring great relief to them when completed,” PMC chairman Kyne concluded.