It needs no angel to tell the government of Liberia how happy Liberians, especially people in the northeast and southeast were, and still are upon hearing the good tidings of securing US$200 million to pave the road from Ganta, Nimba County to Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County.
Our Assistant Editor C.Y. Kwanue reported that the people of Ganta and Zwedru, upon hearing this breaking news on ELBC Radio on May 8, took to the streets expressing their delight and appreciation for this great development. Response to the news leaves no room for doubt that this is what Liberians expect and want to hear, instead of rhetoric and political insults without relevance to the livelihood of the citizenry.
The happiness expressed by Liberians in the locations where the road project is to be implemented can be analyzed from two major perspectives: Firstly, the people believe that paving the road will enhance economic viability in the region, whereby they will have easier and less expensive means of transportation and access to the capital, Monrovia, where many of their family members also live.
During the rainy season, people from Grand Gedeh and other parts of southeastern Liberia are separated from their families due to the bad road conditions. Moreover, manufactured products for consumption in those areas become so scarce and expensive that the impoverished citizens cannot afford to purchase them. Many a time people have to spend two to three weeks on the road during the rainy season before reaching Zwedru because of deplorable road condition. Paving that road will also enhance maximum use of the 100-bedroom regional hospital facility dedicated in 2010 by the Liberian and Chinese governments. The hospital is ideally located in Tappita to serve the population in the north-east and south-east, but due to bad roads, it is difficult for people in Grand Gedeh, Rivercess, River Gee and other parts of the country to benefit from this well-equipped medical facility. Shouldn’t news about the pavement of that stretch of road elicit happiness from Liberians? Surely indeed, this is happy news.
Another perspective to consider in the joyous demonstration by the people is integration. Although a fierce war characterized by tribal sentiments was fought in the country, we recall that despite differences that exist, a large number of Nimbaians and Grand Gedeans have made homes in both Nimba and Grand Gedeh, including others from River Gee, Maryland, Grand Kru and Sinoe. This integrative move is a constitutional right given Liberians in Article 13(a) of the Liberian Constitution which states, “Every person lawfully within the Republic shall have the right to move freely throughout Liberia, reside in any part thereof and to leave there from subject however to the safeguarding of public security, public order, public health or morals or the rights and freedoms of others.”
This right has nevertheless not been fully enjoyed by many Liberians, only because of constraints associated with traveling from one area to the other due to bad roads. History will remind us of William V.S. Tubman’s Unification Policy in the 1950s and 60s. Besides his desire for perpetuating himself in power, for which he joined the Poro Society, President Tubman realized that connecting provincial capitals of counties would promote fast integration and national unification. On the basis of this, most county capitals were connected by these muddy roads we still have today.
This latest development reminds us of the euphoria that gripped Liberians when the Ganta-Harper Highway Project commenced in 1983. We join others in commending the Liberian government for securing the $200 million to begin this road project. Already, the road leading from River Gee to Harper in Maryland is ongoing; and if this connects, the Ganta-Harper Highway plan that has been kept in suspension for years will be realized. We hope and pray that he who will succeed President Sirleaf will continue the meaningful projects she has initiated but has been unable to complete.