Hundreds of stranded commuters traveling on the Nimba-Southeastern region road corridor are calling on the government of Liberia to swiftly intervene in mending the stretch of road amid the heavy downpour of rain that is making the movement of goods and service almost impossible.
Speaking to our reporter who toured a portion of the road [from Ganta to Saclepea], some of the stranded citizens said, they have spent more than a week traveling from the southeastern region to Ganta, in Nimba county due to the appalling condition of the road.
When asked what could be that “swift” intervention, the majority of the commuters who spoke to this platform called on the government to dispatch some road maintenance equipment to the critical spots along the route to do minor maintenance while funds are being sourced for the road to be constructed.
By that, they noted, the current harsh living conditions of citizens, especially those in the southeastern counties will be improved.
According to them, the effect of the bad road condition is immense and has major negative impacts on the economy of the region, as according to them the prices of major commodities have skyrocketed, with business people blaming the situation on the bad road condition.
Mohammed Kamara, Driver of an 18-tire truck told our reporter that he has spent one week, two days traveling from Zwedru to Kpoapa, a town about 2kilometres away from Ganta.
Before now, according to Mr. Kamara, he usually spends a day driving from Monrovia to Ganta.
“My brother today is one week and two days since I started coming from Zwedru to Ganta. In the past, I used less than one day to travel on this distance, but the road condition is causing us to spend this long time on the road”, Kamara told our reporter.
In order to meet up with the challenges on the road, taking into consideration the reduction of the amount of load due to the road condition, Kamara said, they (drivers) are now charging L$1,000.00 as transport fare for a 25kg bag of rice which they used to transport for L$400.00 from Monrovia to Zwedru, Grand Gedeh county.
Giving justification for the hike in transportation, Kamara stated that in normal circumstance, his car takes 20 tons of rice with a charge of L$400.00-500.00 and spends less than two days traveling on the road, but due to the present condition of the road, he is compelled to reduce his tonnage from 20 to 15 and spend more time and use more fuel compared to the past.
“We used to charge L$400.00 to 500.00 for one bag of rice from Monrovia to Zwedru, but right now, we are charging L$1,000.00 because of the challenges we are faced with in traveling to the southeastern region right now. We spend more money on fuel and repairing our cars and we have also reduced our load tonnage so the only way we can realize something is when carrying the transportation up a little bit, even though we are not happy to do that”, Kamara explained.
Alex Dawon, traveling from Bahn to Ganta on a motorbike told our reporter that it took him and the bike rider nearly a day and half to travel from Bahn to Kpoapa, even though he usually spends two hours from Bahn to Ganta.
“My rider and I slept on the highway last night on this very road that I have always used 2 hours or less than two hours to travel on”, Dawon said in frustration.
Commenting on the transportation fare, Dawon stated that he usually pays L$500.00 from Bahn to Ganta, but this time, he was asked by the motorcyclist to pay L$1,400.00 as transport fare from Bahn to Ganta.
A health worker who works for the Jackson F. Doe Memorial Referral hospital, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the situation is affecting not only the free movement of goods, service and people, but also has a greater effect on the health needs of the population as according to him, the influx of patients at the hospital has drastically dropped since the beginning of the rainy season.
According to him, the hospital as a major referral facility in the county caters to patients from across Nimba and the southeastern region, noting that due to the bad road condition both in Nimba and the other counties, most patients are finding it difficult to visit the hospital, something he argued is dangerous for the wellbeing of those patients.
This situation, he maintained if not handled quickly, might be disastrous in the next few weeks.