Liberia: Paving the Ganta-Saclepea Road

..... A Major Move toward the Development of Rural Liberia and National Unity 

Our rural correspondent, Ishmael Menkor, has given the reading public another glimpse of positive development in rural Liberia.  

Ishmael’s story on the initiative, by the Chinese road building firm, CICO, to construct the Ganta-Saclepea Road, which appeared in yesterday’s Daily Observer, marks a major new development in Liberia’s rural road connectivity.  We recall the many pitfalls our people have encountered over decades traveling up-country, wading through miles of mud and water to get from one point to another.  The road from Ganta, Nimba County to Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County has been especially challenging and   troublesome during the rainy season,  with many cars, pickups, and trucks frequently stuck for days in mud and water along the route.  

We are grateful to the government of Liberia and to the illustrious Chinese road-building company CICO that is cooperating in the construction of this important highway linking these two major counties in rural Liberia.  

According to Reporter Menkor, the Ganta-Saclepea highway is the first “lot” of the 118-kilometer road linking Ganta, the most important commercial city in Nimba County, to Zwedru, the capital of Grand Gedeh County.  This road benefits major urban areas such as Saclepea and Tappita in Nimba County, the nation’s second most populated county, after Montserrado County, which hosts the capital city, Monrovia.

Reporter Menkor reminds us that for decades the Ganta-Zwedru highway has been in deplorable condition, getting worse during the rainy season, seriously impeding the movement of people, goods and services.  A 2018 World Bank report noted that the country’s road network reaches approximately 73 percent of the total population and that road quality has long been a matter of grave concern.  

The report, which is entitled Spatial Analysis of Liberia’s Transport Connectivity and Potential Growth, indicates that nearly 60 percent of Liberia’s unpaved roads remain in poor or very poor condition; while the secondary and tertiary road networks appear in particularly poor condition.

The 2016 Rural Access Index (RAI) reveals that 1.6 million rural people in Liberia have access to a road network in good condition, leaving 2.3 million people unconnected to the road network.  Poverty remains persistently high where rural accessibility is low.

The World Bank adds that rural accessibility of 41.9 percent leaves 2.3 million rural people unconnected to a good road network and constitutes a significant constraint.  Limited inland road connectivity contributes to the scarcity of regional trade across inland borders.

This state of affairs places great emphasis on the need for the government of Liberia and its development partners to emphasize road development and connectivity throughout the country.  A critical part of this program is the laying of asphalt on all our rural roads, for we all know the heavy rainfall that is an enduring part of the Liberian reality.  We are a rainy country.  We are not complaining; let us rather remain grateful to God that we have abundant rainfall, which gives our people access to abundant water year round.  The best way for us to show our gratitude for this abundance of water is to make the best use of our water.  Our children should be taught from an early age to make good use of water, not to waste a drop of it, but always to preserve water and use it frugally (carefully, sparingly, economically).  

Let the Government of Liberia make it a matter of national policy to pave all our roads throughout the country with asphalt, which we commonly call, in Liberia, ‘coal tar’.  This will give our roads permanent accessibility, free from water and mud, and make traveling easier and more convenient.

This would be a major boost to commerce, development, and national unity.  It will make travel throughout the country easier, and thereby accelerate commerce, industry, and even tourism.

Good, all-weather roads will enable Liberians to travel more throughout the country, and this will have an even greater unifying effect.  The ability of people to travel easily to all parts of the country would be a major boost to national unity, cohesion and cooperation.  

Heaven knows that national unity can never be overemphasized.  We need to be a united people, and making travel easier from one part of the country to another definitely makes us more united; for we get to know one another better and learn to live together as one people, with one destiny.