“Bad Roads Blocking Progress” in Southeast Liberia

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A men try to pull a pick-up out of the mud on the road between Grand Bassa County and Southeastern Liberia.

-Grand Kru Superintendent Doris Ylatun

At least 20 vehicles get stuck in the mud for several days every week between Gio Town in Grand Bassa County and ITI community in Rivercess County. And though the problem presents some economic respite for the youth in communities along the road, who along with fellow drivers, help get those vehicles through the mud, the much bigger problem is that the progress of business and development, bound for Southeastern Liberia, is blocked, a commercial driver told the Daily Observer.

It has been ten years since Jordana Hochman, in a report for the NPR wrote: “The roads are a major challenge for Liberia’s recovery. They block Liberians’ access to hospitals and schools, make it difficult for farmers to transport produce before it spoils, and impede the distribution of aid.”

Very little of this narrative, especially in rural Liberia, has changed. And while President George Manneh Weah has declared himself the “medicine for bad roads”, three years into his first term, most of his efforts on bad road relief have been in suburbs of the nation’s capital, Monrovia.

Doris N. Ylatun, Superintendent of Grand Kru County, the place from whence Liberia’s current President George Manneh Weah hails, knows all too well the constraints bad roads pose on rural development. Even while carrying out her own duties, the road condition has tested her ability to be resourceful in moving around the county and getting things done.

According to Superintendent Ylatun said since the 12th edition of the County Sitting, held over five months ago, when it was agreed that a vehicle would be purchased for her. The vehicle has been purchased, she says, but is yet to be delivered to her in the county because it is still in Monrovia, due to bad roads.

“Since my appointment in 2018 l am yet to get a vehicle. Between 2018 – 2019, the funds weren’t sufficient and it was just in 2020 the county sitting agreed to to buy me a US$33,000 vehicle but, since it was purchased, it’s still in Monrovia because of the bad roads. The roads are blocking progress in Grand Kru County,” Madam Ylatun said.

“For the past years, l am without a formal vehicle, so am using rented motorbikes and [chartered] vehicles to work,” she added.

Drivers said the road between Gio Town in Grand  Bassa  and  ITI  community  in Rivercess  County are so deplorable that commercial drivers and motorcyclists have drastically increased their fares.

On this route, where commercial drivers would normally manage to squeeze at least two or three roundtrips in a week, the bad roads have constrained them to just one roundtrip, if at all, drastically cutting their projected incomes. In addition to the time value lost, there is the extra wear and tear on the vehicles, as though that weren’t enough already, there’s the perennial cost of “dropping the gates” at state security checkpoints along the road. Portion of the fares also go toward paying off those who will assist the vehicles, when stuck in the mud, to get out.

The costs add up rather quickly, depending on the size of each vehicle and the amount of load it may be carrying.

A common sight of vehicles that have broken down or gotten stuck in the mud on the road between Grand Bassa County and Southeastern Liberia.

Normally, commercial vehicles would charge $10,000 while motorbikes would charge L$6,000 for the distance from Buchanan to Greenville. Now the fares have increased by more than 50 per cent because of the bad roads. For the same distance, vehicles now charge around L$16,000 and motorbikes, around L$10,000.

Joe Jojo, the Project Supervisor of the Building Construction Company (BCC), which is undertaking the Presidential Pro Poor Housing Project, said bad roads are delaying the implementation of project, which started since February 2019. According to him, BCC paid up to US$7,000 to transport materials to Grand Kru County because of the bad road.

The Housing Units, which are 27 feet in length and 25 feet in width, contain two bedrooms, a living room, a bathroom and two porches (front and back).

BBC was contracted to build 170 housing units in six of the nine towns in Sasstown while another contractor, Mobel, is due to construct 33, also in the six towns.

The towns include Jekwikpo, Felorkri, Daryokpo, Kitea, Klaydia and Kunie. Norkwia, Sloyee and Wessah towns are the only towns in Sasstown which are not part of the construction. Meanwhile, the Presidential Pro Poor Housing Units are also being constructed in the cities of Grand Cess and Barclayville.

A staff for Mobel, who begged not to be named, said the major constraints in the completion of the houses are the transportation of the building materials which is very expensive, strenuous and a headache

The staff said the high cost of the road transport has caused them to use water transport, which is a slightly cheaper and very risky.

“We are suffering. Progress in the southeast is very slow because of the bad roads,” one passenger said on August 6th.

There are times during the rainy season when some roads are completely cut off, another commercial taxi driver reported.

Several of the drivers and passengers interviewed said in the government’s effort to support economic growth, it should focus on upgrading strategic roads across the country in order to connect major counties and towns to the nation’s capital.

“Road network and connectivity have become one of the most challenging issues for people, especially women in rural Liberia,” a member of the House of Representatives, who requested not to be named, said. “The roads, which are essential for development, livelihood and boosting the economy of Liberia, still pose a major challenge to commuters and business people.”

Reports said President George M. Weah, is yet to visit the southeast, especially Grand Kru County — his hometown — because of the bad roads, but other reports said it was because of the COVID 19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, between 1981 up to present, Liberia has produced two elected Presidents and one interim President from the Southeast, namely: the late President Samuel K. Doe (1985) from Grand Gedeh; currently President George M. Weah (2018) from Grand Kru County and former interim President, Dr Amos Sawyer (1990), from Sinoe County.

Author

  • I am a Liberian journalist, born November 7 and hailed from the Southeast and of the kru tribe. I began contributing to the Daily Observer 2008 and was fully employed in 2012. I am the 3rd of eight children and named after my great grandfather. Am happily married with three children (girls). I am a full member of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) and also the Sports Writers Association of Liberia (SWAL) and the Legislative Press Pool (LEGISPOL). I can be contacted through email: [email protected] or cell number/WhatsApp: (+231) 0886585875 or Facebook.

12 COMMENTS

  1. What if someone needs surgery? How will they get there? This must be the priority of the government because it is isolating the southeast from the rest of the country

  2. Do you know that the president of the Republic of Liberia, honorary doctor doctor doctor Weah, the five-star general, the bad-road-medicine-man, is from this region?
    During his campaign, he promised a paved coastal highway from Buchanan to Maryland in the first 2 years of his presidency, he’s almost gone three and feasibility studies of such project have not begun yet.
    And you know what, the guy has permutated his region to Montserrado where he and the Hebrew boys build all their mansions and estates, neglecting their traditional birthplaces or origins.
    Tomorrow, if there should be another president, they will yell everywhere on all rooftops to claim they are marginalized.

    All this is due to a Liberian disease called “stupidness”. I hope one day they can be cured from this age-old pandemic that has plagued Liberia for centuries.

  3. This is actually sad. My husband just came from there. I felt so bad when he showed pictures of the bad road conditions and how it is a serious risk to ride on those roads, especially during the rainy season.

  4. Mr. Pete Gboyo is correct!
    The counties of Grand Kru, Maryland, Sinoe and Kru Coast are blessed with their fair share of Senators and Congressmen (Representatives). The lawmakers of the states mentioned (make it the counties) need to do an eye and ear exam. Eye exam because the lawmakers cannot see how bad the roads are and ear exam because they cannot hear the cries of the poor people who voted them into power and wealth. The lawmakers of Liberia, especially the Southeastern ones are weaker than a dead battery.

    • Very objective Mr. Hney. Very objective. Actually putting the blame where it belongs. The lawmakers wear two tall hats as direct Representatives of their constituents. They are direct Representatives of their constituents at the national sitting of the House of Laws. They are also direct leaders of their constituents local legislative caucuses, which puts into their hands how planning and money meant for their counties are spent. The lawmakers as local legislative caucus leaders, they used their influences to open bank accounts and they have authority over those accounts with their signatures. Most citizens are afraid to confront them because of the national legislative powers they have. They are the big people. And this present for them an opportunity to be directly in charged of developments planning, with limited influence and involvement from the Executive. The lawmakers are not weak, they are provided through their local legislative caucuses capital development funds for their counties nearly every budgetary year by the Executive Branch to carry out developments on behalf of the citizens. If anyone is weak , it is the Executive Branch that has failed to do a followed up on how money as capital development funds meant for the counties and its citizens are spent. Every county has an Attorney General that works under Executive to prosecute on how money meant for developmental projects were never completed, never carried out or left abandoned. The capital development funds belong to the state , it was not meant to be used as personal expenses for those in charged of the funds. The blame goes right back to the presidency for it failure to follow up on how state funds are used or managed by those in charged of their local legislative caucuses. No has ever been prosecuted. A case in point is the ongoing construction of Bong County Community College, far from completion. Some local counties’ officials are of the opinion that once the state gives out funds, the state has lost its oversight responsiblity to ask and to prosecute. The weaker link in this is the Executive. For the county’s officials, happy days are here again, when government makes available capital development funds to the counties. For the officials, happy days are here, show us the money. Just a lot of conspiracies against the people of that country by its officials. And the merry-go-round of the funds keeps going around, and around and around , with no development.

  5. The president who claims to be the “bad road medicine” has concentrated all of his road construction to Monrovia, he has been in office now for a little over 3 years, but has yet to take a tour of the country that he governs, but claims to be the bad road medicine, our people made a very sad mistake by electing this guy who knows little , to nothing about governance.
    In my opinion one of the main problems that we have in Liberia is we vote for people who are hustling to make ends meet. How do we expect to elect incompetent hustlers to represent our aspirations for development? The George Manneh Weah led government is the most corrupt, and incompetent to lead Liberia; as everybody is there hustling to line their pockets in the shortest possible time, cause they know that the Liberian people will not vote them again come 2023. That is the main reason why the president and his minions are doing all in their power to cheat in the up coming senatorial elections.

    • Tolo Bonah Corfah, when you and Tom Kamara walked from Capital Bypass to LPMC to print papers for the selfish propaganda of Tipoteh, Dew Mayson, and the rest of you people stupid MOJA gang, what did you people do after you people became sitters at the national cake??

      Didn´t you people take Doe to your dying communism in Ethiopia, and people like you were simply rewarded with going to Ethiopia to attend some stupid back street semi-high school institution?Did you people build any roads.

      When your friend Chris Massaquoi and his gang were in control of the government, why you did not tell him to tell Ellen to construct roads?

      Your cowardly self was afraid that if you played shit, Chris would have “done your work” as he warned you and Dusty Wolokolie.

      Now today you have mouth to talk about road, simply because neither you nor any member of your gang is part of this great government doing its best to rebuild us a great nation you and your gangs destroyed.

  6. So these development and progress can only come around the Raining Season? 1847, and we have lost counts, and you are still kidding us?

  7. Liberia’s problems shouldn’t be solely laid on President Weah. It has been a age-old problem. To build a nation is not a quick fix. Most especially Africa, even those countries that were build by colonial powers we are all facing similar problem today when it come to road connectivity. At no time, nowhere that a person or goverment can satisfactorily build a country in three years period as been insinuated. Even the late Thomas Sankara in all his De-facto powers didn’t accomplished such mission, but instead the Burkinabees are praising him today because of the policies he initiated although there are lesser infrastructures attached to his legacies. In all, as a military government, he rule by decree.

    This blame should be shifted to the founding fathers and mothers of this nation. They could have done better to secure the future of this country but imstead redirected their allegiance to the US where tjey chased and force out forgetting their sole purpose of founding this nation. This generation is just doing damaged-control intentionally caused by the founder’s of this nation wherein things were cheaper to do including roads and infrastructure development as compare to this contemporary society were all things are financial intensive and hard earning.

    Apart from lesser or high class of political games or critical views we all share s in our daily encounter, but the reality is in the minds of all level headed Liberians. I from Lofa County we too experiencing the same problem as Southeasterners do. I just paid a visit in my hometown while returning I almost spend four days on the road. Although, I am not a CDCIans or a George Weah purist; neither do I in any wise in defense of the CDC led government for their fogginess in responding to crirical issues of this country, but this country is on critical juncture that needs the logical input of all Liberians in order to secure the future of the next generations.

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