Reviving Water Transport—a Most Reliable Option in Yester Years

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Commerce and Industry Minister Axel Addy came up on Monday with a truly innovative and highly interesting idea that he proferred to the Dutch delegation that visited on Monday.

He suggested that the Dutch, who are experts in waterways, join Liberia in developing water transport to ease traffic on the nation’s few, highly overused roads. Minister Addy hoped that by
December this year there would be water taxis on the Mesurado Bay. He told the Daily Observer yesterday that the Dutch had accepted his proposal, and that by December they would have a boat on the Mesurado Bay as another means of transport.

Here is a great opportunity that we hope Liberians will take seriously. We ended yesterday’s Editorial, which was on the Dutch Delegation’s visit, by urging that Liberia take the Dutch initiative very seriously.

Why? Because we know that we are not always a serious people. We receive one idea today and forget it before the day is over, never to return to our consciousness. That is the reason so many great ideas die a natural death in our country.

Commerce Minister Addy’s idea is a serious one that we hope no one will forget but rather, everyone will embrace and run with until it is fulfilled. Here is why this is extremely important.

Long ago, before the people from way up country could travel by road directly to Monrovia, they passed through Careysburg and turned right into Bensonville and on to Crozierville and White Plains.

There they, like everyone from Careysburg, Bensonville, Crozierville caught the motor boat from the White Plains wharf to Monrovia. As Kenneth Best, in his book on Albert Porte, recalled, that is how people from the St. Paul River settlements—Royesville, Clay Ashland, Harrisburg, Mount Coffee, Millsburg, Robertsville, Virginia, Arthington, Louisiana, Caldwell, Crozierville, etc., got to Monrovia.

They brought along with them their cane juice, a popular rum made from sugar cane, their fruits and vegetables for sale in Monrovia. The people from up country, too, brought their produce through White Plains to Monrovia.

During those days, as late as the 1930s through the 1950s two boats traveled the St. Paul and Mesurado River routes—the Cooper Boat, owned by a man from Clay Ashland, and the Dixon Boat, run by White Plains-born Buddy Dixon. These boats traveled up and down the St. Paul River picking up passengers, their luggage and goods, then entered the Mesurado River and sailed on to Monrovia.

The boats landed at what was then called the Landing Stage, which was situated across Providence Island on Water Street. The Landing Stage was immediately at the foot of the Center Street hill coming down past the College of West Africa (CWA).

Commerce Minister Addy says the Dutch partners have also agreed to dredge the Mesurado River, which is full of debris from all the surrounding areas. Once that dredging is done, and all the surrounding neighborhoods cleaned up, sail boats, equipped with restaurants and bars, could be acquired to ply the Mesurado as a source of recreation for Monrovians and other visitors.

There is also traveling all the way from the St. Paul River area on Bushrod Island a huge waterway called the Stockton Creek. It runs through Bushrod Island all the way to Margibi County, before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean. The major bridge which one crosses en route to the Roberts International Airport (RIA) crosses the Stockton Creek. The creek bypasses Caldwell, crossing Gardnersville on to Margibi.

A Liberian woman entrepreneur, Ms. Martha Conto, owns a thriving motel complex at Bushrod Island near Duala. The Stockton Creek runs behind her motel and she dreams of putting a boat there for people to ride up and down its corridor.

In the 1950s Liberia’s Secretary of State, Gabriel L. Dennis, after work each afternoon, drove from his Broad Street residence through Bushrod Island to the St. Paul, got into his speed boat and drove it fast southward down the river just before it entered the Atlantic. We look forward to the day when there will be boating clubs along the Stockton and St. Paul, to utilize the blessings of waterways with which Monrovia is richly endowed.

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