The Nimba County branch of the Federation of Road Transport Union in Liberia (FRTUL) has called on the government of Liberia to quickly intervene and rehabilitate the primary road linking the county to other parts of Liberia to ease transporation difficulties in the region.
Speaking to the Daily Observer recently in Ganta, FRTUL Branch President Lawrence Queeglay said because of the bad road condition, commercial vehicles are finding it hard to move from one point to another, adding that “those who are forcing it for humanitarian reasons end up destroying their vehicles.”
He said the bad road has also caused an increase in the price of basic commodities, including petroleum products, rice and vegetable oil in the county and nearby.
“Residents of Zwedru are buying a 25kg bag of rice for L$3,500 and above, and a gallon of vegetable oil for about L$1,000,” he said.
“It is very hard to find vegetable oil in the market,” said Helen Miller, a petty trader at Zwedru Central Market.
She said the price of gasoline has gone up from L$400 to L$1,000 per gallon, while diesel is sold at the same rate in the provincial city of Zwedru.
Although it is extremely difficult to get to Zwedru, the county capital, by motorbike because the Ganta – Zwedru highway is currently deplorable, residents braving the bad road are transporting their goods on motorbikes at the cost of L$4,000 per person, double the cost last year.
“This year the road condition is very bad compared to last year,” said James Yarkeseh of Ganta.
“The road is so bad that it discourages traveling to that part of the county.”
Gas dealer Kelvin Koah told this newspaper that petroleum trucks are unable to reach Zwedru, and so “we manage to get petroleum products for the city by motorcycles and this is a shame.”
Every day, dozens of motorcycles are seen loaded with drums filled with petroleum products heading for Grand Gedeh.
The price of basic goods varies from county to county, one traveler said, adding “counties closer to the coast get their goods by boats and canoes via the sea.”
Fred Wiliams, a petroleum dealer in Karnwaken in River Gee County, said the price of a gallon of gasoline in his county is not as high as it is in Grand Gedeh, which is more inland.
He said during the rainy season most petroleum products are delivered to Maryland by sea, before reaching their various inland destinations.
However, FRTUL’s branch leader Queeglay said most of the vehicles that make it to Grand Gedeh County had to make a detour through Saclapea and Graie passing through Bahn and Toweh Town before reaching Graie.
On the other hand, vehicles also make a detour by way of Saclapea to Yekepa in southern Nimba and then to Tappita before heading for Zwedru.
In Grand Gedeh County, the road between Poh Town and Toe Town is also deplorable, with hundreds of vehicles constantly stranded in the mud.