Residents of Nyenhn in the Todee District have begun a self-help initiative under the banner, “Todee Sawmill Road Rehabilitation Committee,” in conjunction with Dehjlaa Movement to Achieve Economic Middle-class in Liberia to reconstruct the damaged bridge in the District.
The initiative seeks to solicit funds from citizens from the district for the bridge rehabilitation project. Todee, Montserrado County, is one of the poorest areas were a lot of residents hardly afford to purchase basic needs including clothing and proper nutritional food, and roads connecting villages therein are very deplorable and inaccessible to vehicles. The biggest livelihood occupation of people of this district is charcoal burning.
The creek to build the bridge over is wide and, in order for vehicles or motorcycles to find their way across, residents of the district placed four logs — two on each side to enable vehicles and motorcycles cross from one end to the other. However, it is certain by the look that, if the rainy season comes, the logs may rot to break or the current of the creek may carry them away.
At a Townhall meeting held in Nyenhn recently, Gbenimah Balu Slopadoe, and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Dehjlaa Movement to Achieve Economic Middle-class in Liberia told residents that Todee is one of the rural communities in Montserrado county that need serious attention, and as such he thought it was important to work with the citizens to ensure that the bridge is constructed before the rainy season.
The bridge according to him links several Towns and villages in the areas; therefore, if nothing is done to remedy the situation, students will find it difficult to go to school. ” This bridge connects over 45thousand inhabitants,” he noted.
Mr. Slopadoe, who listed several plans for the people of Todee District, said he wants to work with the citizens of the district because he has a vision called “Vision Todee.”
Slopadoe’s vision seeks to see Todee’s agriculture is reformed and specialized to become the breadbasket for Montserrado County – achieved through the holding of an expert-partnership agriculture conference that discusses and takes Todee away from subsistence farming for food and charcoal production for income to farming methods that makes them food secured, creates jobs and increase income under the campaign “Feed Your Family – Grow What You Eat.”
In line with this vision, Mr. Slopadoe appealed: “I wish to call on all citizens of Todee here at home and in the diaspora to rise up now and do those things that we are able to do for ourselves and assist others for those things that we are not able to do.
“In our Liberian adage we say, ‘wash your belly while others wash your back.’ “Today, we are raising fund for cement, steel rods and crushed rocks to reconstruct our Nyenhn Bridge – making Todee viable,” said Slopadoe.
Mr. Emmanuel Yarkpazua, an inhabitant who spoke to the Daily Observer, described the initiative as welcoming and said they have been faced with a serious problem with the bridge for a long time. Yarkpazua said it means a lot to the people of Todee District for a strange person to come to discuss with citizens to carry out such a project.
“You know everybody is talking about the road and even the government; for this is where food is taken to the market. It is therefore important for us to have this bridge built,” he said.
He, however, acknowledged and applauded the government of Liberia for building community roads in Monrovia; noting that there is a need to place a specific emphasis on Todee District because it is the first District in Montserrado County.
“I can tell you that this is a death trap right now; if you can take a look at this or get a photograph of the bridge you will see the bridge is crack and that also poses threat to students here. Someone who is not knowledgeable about this bridge will break their neck or the car will just jump in and it may lead to destruction,” Mr. Yarkpazua said.
Mr. Yarkpazua said the Sawmill Road leads to 21 villages and host approximately 45,000 inhabitants, which he said makes the road is very cardinal for the survival of the people of Todee.
He the damaged bridge impedes students’ movement to go to school on the other side, and because of their seriousness to learn they thought to cut some palm trees to cross over the creek, but fall short of the strength to pull these logs to the site.
Stephen Moore, one of the engineers behind the project, revealed that the total number of damaged bridges in the district is 68 currently. Moore disclosed that citizens have chosen to highlight the damaged bridge because of its importance to the number of students, the community, the marketers and farmers.
He also expressed disappointment over the current situation; describing it as unfortunate and unbearable. “We have many schools in the district here that have been disconnected due to the damaged bridge. WAEC is around the corner, so we are afraid that if the bridge is ot repaired, children will not write their exams.”
”We have not asked any lawmaker or government official, and we will not ask them,” he said. When asked why, he told the Daily Observer that, “this is because in time past we were considered beggars, this time around we don’t want to reduce ourselves to that as we were described before by some of the lawmakers. We will raise the fund.”
Mr. Moore recalled that after the elections when everyone is employed by the people’s vote, they forget the community, adding that “We got our the community at heart; therefore we have to start our own initiative.”
He said Mr Slopadoe’s idea took us by surprise because after making the SOS call on Truth FM, he heard it and thought it was important to work with the people of Todee.
“He is from the south-east, but he believes that when Todee is developed, it is part of Liberia that is developing.
It may be recalled that prior to the intervention of Mr. Slopadoe, there were several SOS calls sent out especially on Truth Fm radio calling on the government through the Ministry of Public (MoPW) to intervene, but according to the residents, there has not been any response.