GEEBEOR TOWN, Grand Bassa â€“ Despite the completion of reconstruction work on the Timbo River Bridge between River Cess and Grand Bassa, the road to the southeast remains nearly impassible due to its poor condition.
Residents of counties in the southeast had hoped for relief following the completion of the bridge repair, but heavy rainfall in recent days have focused their attention back on a familiar problem â€“ potholes and huge pools of mud.
Along the road, vehicles have broken down, with some stuck there for days. In fact, the road is now impassable to smaller vehicles.
Only motorcycles, trucks, and extremely capable four-wheel drive jeeps can currently traverse the route.
Residents of towns closer to the Grand Bassa end have created six bypasses to detour from badly damaged parts of the road. They charge motorcycles and vehicles using the detours between L$25 (US$0.12) and L$100 (US$0.47) to pass the checkpoint setup up by the residents, after each of the points.
As is normal during the rainy season, the poor condition of the road and the high cost of gasoline in the area has led to a high increase in transportation fares along the route.
The stretch of the road between Yarpah Town in River Cess and Buchanan in Grand Bassa is 53 kilometers. Under normal conditions in dry season, it takes less than two hours from one end to the other, but it currently requires between two and three hours in a vehicle, and between six and ten hours when riding on a motorcycle.
During the past dry season, commuters paid L$500 (US$2.37) to travel between Yarpah Town and Buchanan, but the price has tripled to L$1,500 (US$7.11) because of the roadâ€™s current state.
A 25 kg bag of rice previously sold in River Cess for L$2,950 (US$13.98) is now sold at L$3,200 (US$15.16), while the price of a gallon of gasoline that previously ranged between L$690 (US$3.27) and L$720 (US$3.41) is now between L$860 (US$4.08) and L$900 (US$4.26).
Heavy-duty trucks transporting planks to Monrovia were found to be creating more damages to the road. The trucks get stuck for days at different portions of the road and would require digging to free their tires from the mud.
â€œThey donâ€™t care whether there are other people that [are] supposed to travel. All they know, their planks must go,â€ said a frustrated motorist, Sunny Seaton.
Grand Bassaâ€™s fifth district representative, Thomas Goshua, had told The Bush Chicken during the dedication of the reconstructed Timbo River Bridge that he did not think other policymakers were concerned about reconditioning the road.
â€œOften time when we told them this is the condition the road is in, our people cannot travel freely and their goods are spoiling, people think that we just want to play politics,â€ Goshua said.
â€œSo, today, Iâ€™m happy that the [public works] minister will use this road today, that the president will use this road today. Iâ€™m pretty sure that some of their vehicles will get stuck up on the road then.â€
Featured photo by Eric Opa Doue