Residents raise concern as over deplorable city, county roads
The extremely appalling state of the condition of roads in Gbarnga City has become a cause of grave concern among residents, particularly drivers and motorcyclists, who regularly ply the city streets.
In an interview with the Daily Observer recently, the concerned residents noted that such a terrible road network in Gbarnga City and the entire county seems to be a glaring manifestation that the leadership has neglected the county and possibly for political reasons.
The concerned residents described the potholes on the roads as gross violation or abuse of their rights, as they are paying taxes to the central government, which should in turn provide good roads and social amenities.
They said that it is the right of every taxpayer and all other citizens to enjoy good roads and that, depriving them of that right is tantamount to exploitation.
A survey conducted by this newspaper in the city shows that several streets and other roads are becoming increasingly inaccessible as a result of lack of maintenance or rehabilitation.
It was established that motorists often bump up and down in potholed streets, a situation that continues to defy attention.
Some of the streets that are in a bad state and have compelled motorists and motorcyclists to take a detour, include Gbarbea, Suakoko, Progressive and People’s streets as well as Kokoyah Road.
The road leading to Gbarbea Street and to the Far-East Junction is fast becoming a death trap, posing serious consequences to vehicle and motorbike users, if nothing is done to improve the status of that road.
The frustration on the faces of residents is quite visible amid concerns that road building equipment procured by the county leadership to routinely rehabilitate these roads have broken down.
In 2012, the leadership of the county budgeted US$662,300 from the County Social Development Funds (SDF) to procure a front-end loader, a motor grader, and a dump truck to rehabilitate existing roads and open new ones.
The vendor, whose name has not been disclosed, was reportedly paid an upfront amount of US$634,300 for the front-end loader and the motor grader, with a balance of US$28,000 to complete payment for the dump truck if the first set of equipment arrived. But it has been established that the county is yet to pay the vendor his balance to take delivery of the truck.
The front-end loader and motor grader were refurbished, even though members of the 53rd Bong Legislative Caucus along with other leaders argued that the machines were brand new.
These machines were used by the county leadership to repair some of the deplorable streets in the city since 2013. The machines were also used on rotation by some members of the 53rd Caucus in their districts to rehabilitate their roads.
Representative Marvin Cole, one of the newly elected lawmakers, early this year hired the motor grader to recondition the road to his village. The motor grader has since broken down and is parked in his village.
“The roads are even spoiling. Riding now in Gbarnga and its surroundings is like defensive riding, because the roads are terribly bad, and potholes are all around. It is difficult, it is actually dangerous to ride around Gbarnga,” one of the residents complained.
When contacted via mobile phone, Bong County Assistant Superintendent for Development, Anthony Sheriff, said the county does not have money at the moment to repair the machines.
“During the next County Council Sitting, we will put in money for the repair of the machines,” Sheriff said.
Even though there has not been a County Council Sitting since 2014, Mr. Sheriff said the leadership of the county allotted money last year to repair the machines, but the repair was not done.
“Last year we allotted US$15,000 to repair the machines, but that money was used as part of pre-financing payment to do some road works in Gbarnga,” Mr. Sheriff explained.
“In our area, the roads are bad and narrow. When we are riding on the roads and encounter vehicles from the opposite side, we need to stop and park the motorcycles off the road to enable the car to pass,” remarked a commercial motorcyclist from Garyea in Yellequelleh District.