The reconstruction of the Gbarnga, Ganta to Guinea highway has finally reached Ganta, but there still remains confusion about properties in the right of way, with many wondering when payment will be made to those property owners in order for them to relocate.
Caterpillars were seen approaching Ganta city center, bulldozing and removing old pavement to make way for the new. However, the procedure seemed to be hampered by the nearness of stores and shops to the road and their owners’ refusal to move until they are paid for their properties.
“We are willing to move, but we want the payment of the money to be done before we leave,” said one Gbeadeh who has his shop very close to the road.
The Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Public Works, has done all the appraisals of properties that fall in the right of way, but paying property owners to vacate has remained the problem.
In all the cities through which the highway passes, the structures near the road were demolished by the owners before road building equipment arrived, an investigation by the Daily Observer has confirmed.
In Ganta, however, nobody is in the mood to vacate due to the delay in the payment of the resettlement package for their properties.
“The Chinese are in high gear to finish this work sooner, but it appears that the government is delaying with payment for the properties along the road and this is why it is taking so long for the people to move,” said Oldpa Abuja, a businessman.
“When will the people be paid and what time will be given them to leave?” he asked, saying, “This is actually embarrassing.”
When contacted, Public Works Resident Engineer in Nimba County, Lahaison Waritay, said the payment to property owners has been prepared by the government and soon (he did not indicate how soon), all those who have their properties from Jackie Guest [House] in Ganta to the Guinea border will be paid.
Last month a high powered delegation led by the Minster of Public Works, and including representatives of the World Bank, the EU and the Chinese Construction Firm (Chico), paid a one -day working visit to Ganta to provide the citizens with information about the type of road that was going to be built.
In the meeting it was disclosed that the entire road work from Gbarnga to the Guinea border is expected to be completed by July this year.
Property owners interviewed by the Daily Observer said, “If the government pays us, we will find somewhere quick to build something and move, but we cannot move if we don’t get our money.”