A week ago, I travelled to Robertsport, the capital of Grand Cape Mount – located in western part of the country, to assess its tourism potential.
My expectations of Robertsport were high. I expected to see improved infrastructure, even socially and economically, since my last visit there three years ago.
However, things turned out to be the opposite. Although the city has a huge potential for tourism, which still remains largely untouched or undeveloped, nothing has changed in terms of infrastructure and social and economic development.
My first depression came about when the taxi I was in turned off the paved road leading to the Liberia-Sierra Leone border, and started on the road to my destination, which was unpaved and muddy.
Though the country has not fully entered the rainy season, during which most of the roads are in a deplorable state, the one leading to Robertsport has started to disintegrate, and will get worse during the rainy season.
Despite the rough ride to the city, when I arrived, I was delighted to experience the beauty of Robertsport and its undeveloped tourist spots, which still has lots to offer visitors.
I took a canoe ride over Lake Piso, saw the bay mouth of the lake connecting the Atlantic Ocean, visited historical sites, and the famous Massatin Island,, home to monkeys and different bird species.
Nevertheless, the happiness was short lived as the city is still undeveloped, and still the way it was during my previous visit there. The city’s infrastructure is old, most buildings with tourism potential lie in ruins, there are no recreation centers or parks, and day or night, the city is dead.
Once a beautiful place before the civil war, Robertsport can only boast of having one bank, without an ATM, no restaurants, no supermarkets, not even an internet café. There is also no electricity.
The only hotel in town is very expensive, though it lacks a bar, gym or spa.
In addition, the city is filthy, as heaps of rubbish surrounds it; and worst of all, the city has a very poor internet connection; you even have to walk up a hill to get mobile internet connection.
Meanwhile, Robertsport’s fishery industry has not improved; it remained stagnant like the way I left it years back. Also, half of the communities are covered in bushes, as if to say ‘nobody lives around here.’
Moreover, since the city’s infrastructure has not improved, the economic wellbeing of the people looks worse than people in the Monrovia. Although the people appear happy, they are materially poor. Very Poor! Socially, the 21st century youth of Robertsport are living like it’s the 20th century.
Sadly, Robertsport is not the only city facing this challenge; Tubmanburg, Bopolu, Greenville, Cestos City and Barclayville, just to name a few, fall into this same category. They are lagging behind in everything; and it is sad to say that people are still living like in the 19th and 20th centuries.