A dilapidated bridge servicing more than 2,000 residents and business entities in New Johnsonville in Paynesville is in urgent need of repair.
Residents and several business owners in a SOS appeal told the Daily Observer that as the heavy rains arrive, they are worried about the expected difficulties the weather will bring.
Private vehicles, commercial motorcyclists and other users plying the damaged and nearly collapsing bridge are constrained to use both sides of the creek bed to transport commuters of the densely populated community.
Our reporter who toured the community recently observed many of the residents and business owners’ anxiety (worry) as the small creek begins to overflow.
“Each time there is a heavy downpour, residents including the students remain stranded on either side of the creek for several hours,” resident William B. Harris said.
One other situation that worries the residents is that most of them fetch drinking water from the nearby swamps and dilapidated hand pumps constructed by aid agencies two decades ago.
According to residents, another added menace to their plight is that there are no social services such as schools, clinics and safe drinking water for such a fast growing population in that part of Paynesville.
“Our current appeal goes beyond political boundaries,” teacher Emmanuel Dolo said.
The chairman of the New Johnsonville Community, Roland Teah, said over the weekend that the first rehabilitation work on the bridge was carried out in 2012 through the collective efforts of residents and well-meaning partners.
“I wish to plead with all Liberians at home and abroad to think about their kinsmen and women and help in the rehabilitation of our bridge before the rainy season comes into full swing,” Mr. Teah said.
At the same time, Nurse Eva L. Dorwon, 52, said pregnant women and seriously ill persons continue to encounter serious difficulties reaching the nearest clinic at Mount Barclay.
“I want to candidly admit to all Liberians everywhere that if nothing is done before the heavy rains come, a looming disaster should be anticipated at New Johnsonville,” Madam Dorwon warned.
Community spokesman Jerry S. Stewart reiterated that their appeal is also directed to all leaders of political parties, humanitarian organizations and Liberians for the rehabilitation of the bridge.
“I wish to emphatically state that we are making this appeal in the supreme interest of (helping us remain) connected to our business district of Red-Light Market,” said Mr. Stewart.
Stewart also explained that the only Liberian government elementary school at Mt. Barclay is overcrowded due to a “sharp increase in student enrolment.”
He envisions hardship for the students getting to and from school during heavy downpours.
“We actually want for this damaged bridge to be repaired in order to assist our school going children and childbearing mothers from being late to school and hospital,” Mr. Stewart concluded.