For years Liberians and foreign residents living in the country have been faced with a transportation problem which has yielded nothing but frustration and nightmare while increasing the country’s economic hardships.
This year is even worse as thousands of Liberians, especially businesspeople from all parts of the country, have stormed the capital Monrovia, shopping and trading in anticipation of celebrating Christmas and New Year.
This comes amid the country’s persistent and often frustrating transport hiccups, leaving thousands of commuters, businesspeople and foreign residents stranded in and around the city. Some are now forced to walk home after hours of waiting futilely for commercial transport and in fear of violating the recent 12 p.m. curfew imposed by the government to combat Ebola.
The pain of the festive season
It can be recalled that on December 5, 2014 the Government of India donated to the Liberian government 15 fifty-two-seater buses, aimed at easing the acute transportation challenges in the country, but the government has yet to put the buses into services, except for several that were recently used by a candidate in the just ended senatorial election.
Many transport and economic analysts, however, say that the country’s transport problems have more to do with bad roads in several parts of Monrovia and its environs than the availability of adequate commercial transportation.
At the SKD Boulevard in Oldest Congo Town and on Somalia Drive in Gardnerville, hundreds of commuters, United Nations and International aid agency’s vehicles were yesterday stranded for several hours due to traffic jam. The Somalia Drive road in Gardnersville is especially bad as it is filled with potholes and a good portion lacks asphalt.
Commuters and some businesspeople walking from the Congo Town back road, many of whom have endured hardships transport their goods in and out of the city, expressed outrage and disgust at what they believe is government’s inability to provide sufficient public transportation to serve the growing number of Liberians in Monrovia, especially during this festive season. Adding to the transport difficulty were hundreds of vehicles, some with mechanical problems, blocking the road at several points.
Many of the commuters and small businesspeople that were seen walking said “it is sad and regrettable that the Unity Party administration has not been able, despite huge foreign aid, to prioritize the provision of sustained transportation for the public.”
“Why must we suffer and endure this hardship every year, when several bilateral and multilateral partners have assisted the Liberian Government with critically needed funds that could empower Liberians with sustained transportation?” an angry commuter wondered.
Due to the severe shortage of transport vehicles in Monrovia and its environs, observing the Ebola virus health measures has been relatively difficult as hundreds of people, for lack of adequate transport, must crowd into vehicles that would ordinary accommodate only a few persons.
Untimely Road Repairs
One of the contributing factors that could be responsible for many Liberians and businesspeople being stranded is the current road construction works at the Bushrod Island Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC) depot in Monrovia.
Many political commentators in Monrovia told the Daily Observer yesterday that the repair or reconstruction of the road is not timely, owing to the Christmas and New Year festive season.
Pundits have pointed out that the construction of the road should be carried out during late night hours, given the horrendous traffic jams that day time road works create in that part of Monrovia, underscoring the urgent need for sustained transportation strategies for 2015.