So Close, Yet Still, So Far Away

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    Citizens of Vahun warmly welcoming_web.jpg

    It used to take a resident of Vahun in Lofa County about seven hour from the morning hours to reach Monrovia and finish whatever he or she had come to do and get back on his or her way before the fall of night. But that was then—what many today term “normal times” when infrastructures, especially roads, were not as bad off as many are today.

    The road the citizens of Vahun traveled during “normal days,” came through the Bomi Hills concession area, operated by the Bong Mines Company. The journey took about four to five hours from Vahun to Bomi Hills and about an hour or two to Duala and then into Central Monrovia.

    This is no longer the case because the roads, as well as the one that linked Vahun to the county’s capital, Voinjama, were destroyed as a result of the years of civil war. This situation had Vahun cut-off from the rest of the country, until the recent intervention of the government with the rehabilitation of a road that now connects Vahun with Voinjama.

    Though the construction of the Voinjama-Vahun road may not have solved all the Vahun people’s problems, it has brought them a sense of belonging to the Liberian state—a feeling that they have yearned for, for years. Notwithstanding, the road through Voinjama takes a passenger about two days to get to Monrovia—not a very comforting prospect.

    And so, they have decided to appeal to the Central Government to rehabilitate the Bomi Hills-Vahun road, to make it easier for them to get to Monrovia.

    In a petition statement presented to the President in Vahun on Tuesday, February 18, through their representative Fofi Sahr Baimba, the citizens said that the rehabilitation of the road will greatly help farmers; business people will also benefit and will soon once more make the region a vibrant agricultural hub.

     “Madam President, the road we had here took us about five hours to get to Bomi Hills, in Bomi County; but, it was destroyed during the war.

    So, your people have come to ask that you please help us rehabilitate this road which we considered a short-cut to Monrovia,” Representative Fofi Sahr Baimba pleaded.

    The Lofa lawmaker said that when rehabilitated, the road will be of great help to the many farmers who have to take days to get their produce to Monrovia.

    There are also the exorbitant fares demanded by the transport ‘big shots,” who marketers have to depend on to get their goods to the markets; making things worse, some produce begin rotting long before they reach Monrovia.

    Needless to say, many middle-men and middle women and consumers are daily waiting in the capital to pick up these items to keep their distributors and consumers supplied.

    “Our district has been isolated from the rest of the country for too long, and most of us who only had the opportunity to be educated in Sierra Leone as a result of the long time neglect, have been considered by many as foreigners, because of our accent.

    We are so close to Monrovia, yet so far away; why? Because, instead of taking about seven to eight hours to get to Monrovia—through the Bomi Hills route—we have to travel through Voinjama. That takes about a day and a half or two,” Representative Bimba explained.

    He earlier lauded President for the Voinjama-Vahun road rehabilitation project, which he said has brought considerable relief to the people of Vahun

    Another resident who identified himself as John Binda had this to say: “We want to be grateful to this government for the rehabilitation of the road that now connects us with Voinjama. It used to take us many days to get to Voinjama. Thank God that President Sirleaf is now thinking about us after so many years of being neglected by past leaderships.”

    “The one thing we as a people desire most from Madam Sirleaf, is for her to please fix the road that links with Bomi Hills. Those days it used to take us about four to five hours in car to get to Bomi Hills. And lately before the civil war we used to paid US$4 to get to Monrovia through this route,” Mr. Binda said.

    In response, President Sirleaf said that she will work with the leadership of the county and other relevant stakeholders through a consultative process to see how best modalities can be worked out to address the citizens concern.

    She thanked the people of Vahun for the warm reception accorded she and her entourage. She, that day, had begun her 2014 nation-wide tour, kicking-off with Vahun, a district she termed a government strong-hold, due to the kind of supports received in the 2005 and the 2011 elections.

    Meanwhile, President Sirleaf became the second President ever to have visited Vahun; the first was William Richard Tolbert, who visited the area on several occasion. He paid his last visit in 1978.

    Prior to the reconnection, Vahun Citizens had almost conducted all of its activities, trade, and social transaction with Sierra Leone. The people are currently using triple currencies as mediums of exchange: the Liberian dollar, the US dollar, and Sierra Leone’s Leone, as a result of the newfound inter-connectedness (new connections) of the regions.

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