‘Southeasterners Cut Off’

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About 600, 0000 citizens from five southeastern counties are cut off by deplorable roads, even before the rainy season sets in April, a report by Bridge Rural Communities for Trade (BRCT) has revealed.

three-day assessment by BRCT, which ran from March 1–3, described the southeastern roads as deep potholes filled with water and mud, making vehicle travel impossible, which has not only cost southeasterners basic goods, but also the voter registration process.

Mr. Gbenimah B. Slopadoe, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and President of BRCT, told journalists at a press conference in Sinkor yesterday that the affected counties include Grand Gedeh, Sinoe, River Gee, Grand Kru and Maryland.

“We are calling on southeasterners and other patriotic Liberians to say no to the deplorable road situation this 2017,” Mr. Slopadoe said. “We must find the resources to do everything humanly possible to restore roads in the affected areas.”

Accordingly, the BRCT CEO announced that the first fundraiser which would bring international and national non-governmental organizations, the Executive, the Legislature, businesses and concessions together will be held on Saturday, March 25.

He said the venue and time of the fundraiser will be announced after consultations with partners.

“The first fundraiser is intended to raise resources to keep southeastern Liberia connected to the rest of the country during the rainy season,” Mr. Slopadoe noted.

“We need road building equipment, fuel and finances to be placed at the care of the Liberia Agency for Community Empowerment (LACE), as the implementing agency under the technical supervision of the Ministry of Public Works,” he said.

The BRCT CEO has appealed to the five southeastern legislative caucuses to allow their respective County Development Funds to allocate US$1m to the road project.

BRCT’s request stemmed from an earlier campaign from two Senators from Grand Kru and River Gee counties who pleaded with Government to prioritize the repair of roads leading to the southeast.

Senators Peter Coleman of Grand Kru and Albert Chie of River Gee said bad road conditions remain a serious hindrance to people of that part of the country.

As a condition experienced every year, the two Senators lamented that people from southeastern counties living in Monrovia are unable to visit their home counties, thereby denying them the opportunity to see their families and friends.

Furthermore, they indicated that bad road conditions contribute to disease and poverty in those counties as goods and medical supplies hardly reach them during the rainy season, which reportedly increases the death rate in that part of the country.

Senator Coleman, who is also a medical doctor, said “President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf must give attention to roads leading to the southeast and Lofa since US$5 million (is) allocated for roads every budget year. We know the government has made some strides in improving roads and other social services, but people in the southeast remain cut off every year, and this is not good for the people.”

Meanwhile, as a result of difficult road conditions in that part of the country, a gallon of gasoline which was previously sold at L$350 is now sold at L$1,000, and commercial drivers, due to the high cost of gasoline, have resolved not to travel to the southeast. Additionally, a 25kg bag of rice which was sold at L$1,900 is now L$3,500.

“This situation is getting serious and harmful for those who cannot afford to get the capital to purchase food items, especially the nation’s staple food, rice,” a resident said.

Reports also said business owners in Maryland County are compelled to go to neighboring Ivory Coast via canoes and risk their lives to purchase goods.

Some residents of southeastern Liberia have vowed not to participate in the country’s October electoral process as a result of the continuous suffering they are made to endure due to the bad condition of the roads in their various localities.

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