Unemployed youths who have chosen to fill potholes in Monrovia are not afraid of the traffic dangers the job entails, Mark, 25, told the Daily Observer yesterday In an interview at the GSA Junction in Paynesville.
He is one of the two young men filling potholes, a job he does with his friend to provide them with food and shelter.
“I know some drivers don’t care what we do,” he said. “But others care and they help us with money as their appreciation for what we do to make the road a little easy to drive on.”
He said he had some time to look at the dangers in the venture as they kneel down on the streets filling holes with sand and rocks, hauled from nearby beaches, while vehicles move back and forth past their location.
“I am 25 years old and dropped out of school,” Mark said with a smile. “I don’t want to get involved in any criminal activity and therefore my friend and I look around for areas where potholes are making traffic difficult for drivers and then we begin to find rocks and sand to fill them.”
He said at the end of the day some sympathetic drivers would give them money while others would say things to discourage them. They sometimes make between L$800 and L$1000 a day, he said.
“We know roads in the city should be better than what they are now in Monrovia,” Mark said, “so we take advantage over bad roads to try to fill them with rocks and sand to help out.”
He admitted that filling in potholes without any warning sign to drivers that ‘men are working’ leaves them vulnerable to danger, but “we try to give way when cars are coming our way.” He has not been involved in any traffic accidents doing this work, said Mark.
Mark said he was born in the ‘90s during the war period, adding that he did not have parents or guardians who could afford to send him to school.
“I have to make ends meet (because) I don’t want to be a burden on someone,” he said. He would not talk about his parents, stating that receiving tips from sympathetic drivers makes life a little easier. “It will be good to learn some trade to be able to help ourselves,” he acknowledged.
Many residents interviewed yesterday said the deplorable condition of the roads in Monrovia and its environs have provided old and young men, especially school drop outs, a chance to be self-employed, hauling sand and rocks to fill in potholes that develop and worsen during the rainy season.
“I’m sure the government is aware of what is happening to our roads in the city,” said one resident who asked not to be identified. “It will be good for the Ministry of Public Works to gather such people and train them since they are already showing interest in fixing our roads.”
A Ministry of Public Works representative who this journalist spoke to yesterday admitted being aware of the deplorable road conditions that have compelled young and older men to risk their lives in traffic hauling sand and rocks to fill in potholes. “It is embarrassing,” he admitted. “But we have plans to work on them in the dry season.”