Road to Southeast Impassable Despite Completion of Timbo River Bridge

GEEBEOR TOWN, Grand Bassa – 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 – 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.

Motorcyclists using a detour created by residents of a nearby town; photo by Eric Opa Doue

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 road’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.

“They don’t care whether there are other people that [are] supposed to travel. All they know, their planks must go,” said a frustrated motorist, Sunny Seaton.

A truck loaded with planks and a pickup stuck on the road; photo by Eric Opa Doue

Grand Bassa’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.

“Often 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,” Goshua said.

“So, today, I’m happy that the [public works] minister will use this road today, that the president will use this road today. I’m pretty sure that some of their vehicles will get stuck up on the road then.”

Featured photo by Eric Opa Doue

Eric Doue

Eric Opa Doue is a co-founder of Echo Radio Station, which does a series of programs in Bassa, Kru, and simple Liberian English. Under his leadership, Echo Radio was selected as one of the Moody Radio global partners for training opportunities in 2013 and 2014. Eric was one of a handful of reporters who received training from Internews in 2015 on humanitarian reporting during the Ebola outbreak in Liberia. He holds a diploma in Journalism, from the Ghana Institute of Journalism.

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