The Konola Bridge Could Tie Up Interior Traffic

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Just last week the new Minister of Public Works, Mr. Gyude Moore, confidently told the Daily Observer that the road projects, especially those of the Red Light to Gbarnga and Gbarnga to Ganta, were on stream and that two reputable Chinese companies were doing the work.

But last Friday our Bong County Correspondent Marcus Malayea sent the grim report that a serious crack had been discovered in the crucial Konola Bridge near the border linking Margibi and Bong counties.

Correspondent Malayea interviewed the Chinese contractor, CICO, to find out what had happened. They told him that the bridge was 51 years old and that they had recently repaired it; but it had been damaged by heavy trucks that exceeded the prescribed 50 tons. However, the contractors said they would soon repair the bridge again.

Being 51 years old, the bridge was clearly not built by the Chinese, who were nowhere around in 1964. In fact, that was during the Tubman era, when Liberia maintained diplomatic relations with the Republic of China, commonly known as Taiwan.

So CICO is not responsible for the bridge’s current condition, though the company did in fact recently repair it as part of its ongoing contract.

We suggest that the Public Works Ministry undertake a complete reassessment of that bridge, to determine whether it needs reinforcement and for how long, or whether to demolish it and build an entirely new, reinforced one, that will be able to withstand the heaviest of trucks.

This will undoubtedly call for substantial new financial resources. But the government has no choice but to make an urgent decision on what to do about this bridge, because it lies smack in the middle of the highway from Paynesville Red Light to Gbarnga. This is the only corridor leading to Central and Western Liberia which comprise the nation’s breadbaskets—Bong, Lofa and Nimba counties; and Southeastern Liberia, through which a lot of agricultural produce passes en route to Monrovia. So this highway is indispensable to travel to and from the Liberian hinterland.

There is yet another major bridge that must be rebuilt. It is the bridge that is closest to the Margibi-Bong border. A temporary steel bridge was erected there by UNMIL forces to facilitate the free flow of travel after Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) bombed the concrete structure during the civil war. This was the beginning of the notorious Taylor’s destruction of Liberia’s infrastructure that threw the country 50 years backward.

But Taylor was not alone in the hateful and vicious destruction of Liberia. Several other warring factions joined in the deliberate, destructive assault on the country they call their motherland. These included Alhaji Kromah’s ULIMO that destroyed almost everything in sight in Lofa County, including the Lutheran-built Currans Memorial Hospital in Zorzor, and the Lutheran Training Institute in Salayea, both in Lofa County.
This is a political subdivision which Alhaji Kromah claims is his own county. He claims he hails from Kolahun.

Three times ULIMO bombed the hospital and school and three times Dr. Walter Gwenigale, a Lutheran- trained surgeon and medical director of Suakoko’s Phebe Hospital, had to raise funds from European and American Lutheran and other sources to renovate these institutions. Phebe, too, was bombed three times by NPFL and other warring factions and Dr. Gwenigale had to plead with the same sources to help him rebuild it.

The foregoing is just a little piece of history to remind these warlords of the grave damage they and their supporters did to their so-called motherland.

It is the bombed bridge at the Margibi-Bong border that is being rebuilt. We have reliably learnt that a new bridge is in the CICO contract, because the temporary steel bridge built by UNMIL cannot be relied on for much longer.

We trust that what we have said about this aspect of our deliberately destroyed infrastructure will serve as a reminder to those wishing for more trouble in Liberia. More trouble and instability are very COSTLY.

By the same token, we make an urgent appeal to all those in or near power in Liberia to realize that honesty and integrity on their part will save us from more trouble, which we most certainly do not need any more of.

A hint to the wise is quite sufficient.

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