Liberia: Southeast Cut off Until October 9

 Heavy vehicles on the road between Saclepea, Nimba County and Toe Town, Grand Gedeh County

…. Heavy duty vehicles banned from Saclepea-Zwedru route, Nimba County Police Commander announces

The deplorable conditions of the roads leading to the southeastern region of Liberia have once again led to that part of the country being cut off from the rest.

Travel to that part of the region is practically impossible, as vehicles making their way there spend weeks through oceans of mud. The situation has led to the official closure of the main route to the southeast, especially for heavy vehicles, police say. 

The Liberia National Police announced on Tuesday, September 20, the closure of the major corridor of the road that leads to the southeastern region of the country, especially the highway that stretches from Saclepea, Nimba County, to Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County. The police said that that part of the road is closed specifically to heavy vehicles. 

Deputy Police Commissioner Dixon Kemokai, who is also the Police Commander for Nimba County, told a local radio station in Nimba that the police mandated the closure of the main road that gives access to that part of the country to allow the road contractors to carry out some maintenance work. According to him, only light vehicles are allowed on the road during the course of the rehabilitation of the hotspots on the road.

He said the police were acting upon the order of the Resident Engineer of the Ministry of Public Works in Nimba, Mr. Francis Carter.

It is not known what prompted the action at this time when the election is just 18 days away, but the police stressed that the company should be allowed to make the road pliable before it becomes very deplorable.

The stretch of road connecting Saclepea and Tappita is currently under construction by China Railway, a Chinese Road Building Firm, but the movement of vehicles, especially heavy-duty, is hampering the work. 

This presupposes that light vehicles should be able to pass — once they can pull themselves through the viscous mud. Realistically, only motorcycles and 4x4 vehicles would be able to pass. 

Most of the heavy vehicles traveling to the Southeast carry cargo, and they often return with goods such as timber or agricultural produce.

Thus, the ban on the movement of the heavy duty trucks will likely create shortages of key commodities such as petroleum, rice, and other food supplies in the southeastern counties, resulting in an increase in the prices of goods, especially imported goods.

“The stopping of heavy vehicles will likely hamper not only our goods but also the movement of voters,” Laimon Menlor, a trader in Zwedru, told the Daily Observer. She explained that voters usually move in trucks or heavy vehicles. 

“If the road is not properly rehabilitated, the road will surely be cut. So, for me, I embrace rehabilitation. The few days [will] do no harm, once light vehicles will be plying,” she added.

The movement of heavy vehicles is believed to be hampering or obstructing the road work because, whenever the heavy vehicles get stuck on the road, it takes about a week or more and also leads to the digging of the spot where the particular vehicle got stuck before it can be removed.

“If the heavy vehicles stop moving, the contractor will speedily rehabilitate the road to ease the hurdles people encounter on the road,” the police commander said.

Efforts to get the Public Works Resident Engineer, Francis Carter, did not materialize as he was not reachable in person or via phone.