28 August 2009

Liberia: Brazzaville, New Georgia Residents Construct U.S.$91,000 Bridge

Drenched from repeated rainfalls, wearing tattered-muddied clothes, contractors of the End &End construction firm are working against all odds to construct a very strategic bridge that links two major communities outside Monrovia: Bardnersville and New Georgia.

Whether rain falls, or sun shines, or darkness comes, the constructors are working overtime to restore smiles on the faces of thousands of people, who use the route to get to various destinations, days and nights.

The construction of the bridge initiated by the New Georgia Gulf and the Gayedukpaye (Bardnersville Township) communities is being funded by World Bank, through the Liberia Agency for Community Empowerment (LACE), officials of the communities say.

The bridge was initially constructed in 1992 by West African peacekeepers (ECOMOG), to enable them move their military hardware, as they countered the onslaughts and bombardments of Monrovia by rebel forces devoted to former President Charles Taylor, and those loyal now Nimba County senior Senator Prince Y. Johnson.

The giant steel bridge had since been useful to thousands of people from all walks of life - traders, churchgoers, vehicles, and pedestrians, among others - until it became unworthy for vehicular movement several years ago.

Though thousands of people still used the bridge, its condition worsened over the last few years, until it finally crumbled two months ago, leaving a movement gap between the two communities.

Due to the worsened condition of the bridge, Mr. David Barcolleh, Chairman of the New Georgia Gulf Community, said they were already in discussion with LACE when the bridge finally collapsed.

Speaking to The Informer Thursday at the construction site, Mr. Barcolleh said he was very happy that the bridge is being constructed. He reserved praises for the contractors, and commendation for the project sponsors, World Bank/LACE.

He termed it as a dream come true, because he had promised the community that during his chairmanship, the bridge would be constructed.

Barcolleh said, despite the heavy downpour and flooding, the workers have dedicated themselves to completing the project within the stipulated 90-day period.

He said the strategic location of the bridge makes it compelling to be immediately restored to allow the free and easy movements of people between the two electoral districts - District #8 of Rep. Dave Koomey and District #9 of Rep. Moses Tandapollie.

Mr. Barcolleh said after the erection of the bridge the next challenge that remains is the restoration of the road to enable vehicular movement between the communities, as it used to be years back.

The revamping of the road, he said, would help the people easily transport goods and building materials to enable them rebuild their lives, and contribute to the rebuilding process of the country.

Mr. Barcolleh said several appeals have been made to the Ministry of Public Works, and the Ministry has assured the communities that it will work on the road during the dry season, adding, "We hope that they will come, because we want this road to be restored."

Ten persons from the two communities were elected as members of the project management committee (PMC) who are to monitor the full implementation of the project.

The PMC Chairman Mark C. Nyan, Sr. said the project is going on smoothly, but the downpour and flooding of the area remain the single most challenge construction workers are facing.

Constructors work up to as late as 10p.m. (on generator light), using a water pump to dry up the area, and also build heap of sludge to divert the floor of the powerful stream.

"They are working against all odds; they are challenging nature to ensure that the bridge is built in time," the PMC chief, Nyah, told The Informer.

He said when built, the bridge would be one of the best bridges around Monrovia, and applauded the World Bank/LACE for supporting the project, adding, the work of End &End is highly impressive.

The first phase of the bridge (basement) has been completed. Mr. Nyah said the second phase which has do with building the abutment (structure) will now kickoff, while the third and final phase will be the laying of the top.

Technicians of End &End say the bridge being built is 10ft high, 35ft long, and 20ft wide.

Residents of the two communities, who often go to witness the construction activities, are meanwhile expressing gratitude for the initiative.

They told this paper that without the bridge, they will have to spend lot of money and time to get to either side of the stream, and this would seriously negatively affect their livelihood and post war development activities.

Construction work began July, and is expected to be completed by October. Workers say they will meet the deadline, despite the challenges - flooding and downpour.

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