The Bridge Rural Communities for Trade (BRCT) has announced a US$500,000 phase one road project to connect five southeastern counties.
The counties are Grand Gedeh, Sinoe, River Gee, Grand Kru and Maryland. BRCT is a non-profit organization with both local and international support.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and President of BRCT, Mr. Gbenimah B. Slopadoe, told journalists in Sinkor that BRCT would deal with the “very difficult and impassible” road conditions of the southeast that are the causes of the shortage of basic commodities and social services that occur in the region from May thru November each year.
As a result of difficult road conditions in that part of the country, a gallon of gasoline which was previously sold at L$350 is now sold at L$1,000, and commercial drivers, due to the high cost of gasoline, have resolved not to travel to the southeast. Additionally, a 25kg bag of rice which was sold at L$1,900 is now L$3,500.
“This situation is getting serious and harmful for those who cannot afford to get the capital to purchase food items, especially the nation’s staple food, rice,” a resident said.
Reports also said business owners in Maryland County are compelled to go to neighboring Cote d’Ivoire via canoes and risk their lives to purchase goods.
Some residents of southeastern Liberia have vowed not to participate in the country’s October electoral process as a result of the continuous suffering they are going through due to the bad condition of roads in their various localities.
It has been gathered that many of those who spoke on the issue said they would mobilize other citizens in that part of the country not to be part of the October presidential and legislative elections because of lack of attention to their plight by the government.
According to BRCT, the project to connect five southeastern counties and deal with the “very difficult and impassible” road conditions of the southeast will repair and maintain laterite roads, build bridges and insert culverts to connect the southeastern counties with the rest of the country.
Mr. Slopadoe is the former District # 2 Representative of Grand Kru County and is a non-aspirant in the October elections.
“The impassable sections of the roads are caused by mud, a man-made problem, and therefore it can be prevented.
“I am pleased to launch the Bridge Rural Communities for Trade in the Global Community as a strategic platform and champion the cause to pave Liberia’s inter-county highways to enhance mobility and improve the living conditions of the citizens including transportation, trade, income, health and education,” Mr. Slopadoe said.
He said Phase One is a two-year short term activity, and that a multilateral taskforce would be established to lead a private and public endeavor to prevent Liberia’s inter-county roads from becoming impassable during the raining season.
The phase is carried out under the slogan, “Keep Liberia’s Inter-county Roads Open during the Rainy Season 2017 to 2018.”
“Phase 2 is a ten-year long term activity dubbed ‘Pave Liberia’s Inter-County Roads,” he said.
He indicated that the multilateral taskforce would comprise local government, government institutions, corporate entities, donor partners and the fundraiser (BRCT). The taskforce will be responsible to mobilize, manage and execute resources required in the short and long term implementation of the project.
“The Liberia Agency for Community Empowerment (LACE) will receive the funds and logistics and implement the projects, and the General Auditing Commission (GAC) will provide fiscal and administrative guidance,” he noted.
Mr. Slopadoe served as a member of the 52nd Legislature and was the chairman on the House Committee on Labor. He sponsored two bills including one that required all government construction contracts valued up to one million United States dollars be awarded exclusively to Liberian owned construction companies (with at least 51percent of shares owned by Liberians) and capital incentives for farmers intended to revitalize the country’s agricultural sector as an investment to reduce food insecurity, create employment and income.
Neither of his bills was passed into law. He recently served as a consultant with the House of Representative on a Legislative Project.