Until very recently, people traveling from Gbarnga to Ganta and on to the Guinea border had to endure deep potholes, dust and mud to reach their destinations.
Our pick-up, taxi and truck drivers, not to speak of motorists, including government people and foreigner partners, driving through this region, attempted their trips with trepidation (fear, nervousness). It was not only the discomfort driving on the bad roads but the heavy toll they inflicted on the wear and tear of their vehicles. Market women, moreover, suffered serious losses when their perishable goods, especially bananas, fish, fruits, plantains and vegetables rotted during long delays due to mud and impassable potholes along the way.
Not anymore, especially on the Gbarnga-Ganta-Guinea border route! Last week Monday President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf traveled to Ganta to dedicate the 70-kilometer paved road linking the Bong and Nimba capitals and the Guinea border.
She was accompanied by Public Works Minister Gyude Moore; diplomats; development partners—especially the World Bank, European Union, Germany (KfW), Norway (NORAD) and United Kingdom; as well as legislators, including Senate Public Works Chairman Oscar Cooper of Margibi; County Superintendents; Chiefs and other local leaders.
The opening of this paved road linking two counties and the neighboring Guinea border is an important milestone. Not only will it facilitate easier and more comfortable travel; it will also encourage trade and other economic activities. The Bong and Nimba people must now intensify their agricultural production.
Remember what the President Sirleaf told you as she dedicated the road: This paved corridor and all other development accomplishments belong to you, for your cooperation and support helped bring them about.
Agriculture Minister Moses Zinnah should seize this opportunity to reach out to the people in these two counties and ensure that they grow more tubers (cassava, eddoes, potatoes), fruits, plantains and vegetables, to feed their people and to supply the urban markets in Kakata, Harbel, Paynesville Red Light and Monrovia.
We are here urging Agriculture Minister Zinnah to FOCUS on these areas and flood them with agricultural extension agents to convey the benefits of
research from the Central Agricultural Research Institute (CARI).
This road must NOT be a corridor for more accidents, with reckless drivers misusing the pavement with excessive speeding, injuring and killing people. See what happened last week to our young Public Works Minister Gyude Moore, who was knocked down by a wicked, speeding hit-and-run driver as he jogged along Payne Avenue, Monrovia—why? Only because unlike past years when Payne Avenue and all other thoroughfares were riddled with potholes so that vehicles could not move fast, today, because most roads are paved, motorists drive recklessly.
We pray that our youthful Minister has been restored to perfect health.
Motorists using the new Gbarnga-Ganta-Guinea highway should make a conscious effort to drive safely, carefully and responsibly on this paved new road. That is the best “Thank you” they can give to the President.
We call on the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) to install lights along this and all other highways to ensure night safety; and on the Liberia National Police (LNP) to install signs indicating curves, bridges, hills and other danger points along that route.
We insist that this new thoroughfare should be an opportunity to boost agricultural production in Bong and Nimba. This road must NOT be used to import farm produce from Guinea and La Cote d’Ivoire! Bong, Nimba farmers, grow your own bitter ball, cabbage, lettuce, pepper, tomatoes and other produce, for you can no longer use “bad roads” as an excuse for failure to be hardworking and productive.
We further call on the Liberia Business Association (LIBA) and the Liberia Marketing Association (LMA) to tour the area and encourage Bong, Nimba and other entrepreneurs to open businesses along this new, welcoming corridor—agro-industry enterprises, such as poultry and meat processing plants; building materials stores; food centers; hotels, motels, shopping centers, etc.
Who amongst us can forget that this government has been severely criticized by the people for the lack of enough development initiatives? At this point, we are compelled to say to Liberians: “Thank God for mercies—great and small.”