New Democrat (Monrovia)

9 January 2013

Liberia: Rehabilitating Road Infrastructure

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Now that the dry season is in full swing, we expect the government through the Ministry of Public Works to effect immediate rehabilitation of the entire dilapidated road infrastructure nationwide.

The measure, which will enhance free movement of people and accelerate economic activities, becomes necessary when viewed against the cumulative road congestion and associated inconveniencies, including undue delays and accidents spoiling commuters' journeys to various destinations.

After more than 14 years of a devastating civil war, actual road rehabilitation commenced about three years ago when the Chinese began to repair the decrepit roads in Monrovia and parts adjacent. But what turned out to be smooth roads soon became bumpy and CHICO and CICO, the Chinese contractors came under heavy criticisms with faultfinders calling for stringent actions against them after pot holes appeared along the roads, creating death traps. The excuse given by the Chinese was that the roads were rehabilitated free of charge as the newly elected government at the time did not provide funding for road rehabilitation.

Owing to the usual mad rush of socioeconomic activities, especially during the ember months of October, November and December, travellers endured grave inconveniences along the country's crumbling highways, coupled with a number of human and mechanical factors in which many people sustained serious injuries or even lost their lives while travelling from towns and villages across the country.

Thus, as we move into the New Year, there is certainly going to be lot of travelling as people will move back and forth scavenging for various socioeconomic needs. The President needs to direct the Ministry of Works to ensure that the key roads in the country are motorable and safe for all Liberians desirous to travel.

Indeed, such road networks that demand instantaneous attention, besides a considerable number of others, include the highways in the southeast, Lofa, Nimba, Bong, Bassa, Gbarpolu and Cape Mount counties.

Certainly, as a result of limited alternative means of transportation, these roads have witnessed heavy human and vehicular traffic over the decades resulting in depreciation over time.

There is no denying that these major national roads need urgent renovation and as such we ask the government to approve a special programme for prompt rehabilitation of all these roads which have been neglected in the course of the years.

We specifically refer to the heavy rains witnessed in many parts of the country with the overflow of the rivers which impacted negatively on our road infrastructure across the country during the rainy seasons.

Everyone is craving for the speedy renovation of the decaying road infrastructure across the country. It is thus, important that the Ministry of Works should be armed with the requisite wherewithal to immediately mobilise its agencies and parastatals to begin the necessary repairs on these major yet, fast collapsing roads.

We recall that during the political campaign for power last year, contestants assured Liberians that they would do all they could to ensure that the roads were made motor-able again. They pledged that there would be safe and comfortable motoring to various parts of the country.

Against this backdrop, we think that the Ministry of Public Works and its agencies and departments should rise to the occasion by effectively maintaining our dilapidated road networks in the country.

Of course, it is quite regrettable to recall that because of collapsed road infrastructure and attendant, forced rush by commuters to travel on the same decrepit roads attending various activities, precious human lives and property worth several thousands of dollars have been lost over the years to avoidable road mishaps.

It is time that with effective planning and monitoring of the construction works at various project sites, the government, especially through MPW, should redouble its efforts at effecting repairs on roads and bridges damaged by decades of neglect.

Since its principal responsibility is to maintain the roads and construct new ones, MPW however, needs to be more alive to its responsibility by doing more of road maintenance. Following any road construction or reconstruction by the Ministry of Public Works, contractors ought to work harder to justify their economic gains.

MPW should closely monitor the condition of the roads, while not allowing these crucial national road infrastructures to collapse completely before it wakes up to its responsibility.

It is high time the Government explored other useful and enduring alternative means of transporting people and goods from and to various destinations. By doing this, we believe that will help minimise the persistent undue pressure on the decaying road infrastructure across the country.

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