Wednesday, October 13, 2010

SHUT OUT: Water Swallows up Cece Beach; GOL Insensitive to Plight, Residents Say

Wade Williams

Source: FrontPage Africa


Cece Beach, Banjol, Lower Virginia -

A normal routine for the residents of CeCe Beach Community in Banjol, lower Virginia is to take off their shoes, roll up their pants or whatever they have on any given day and walk through the water. There are no roads leading to the area, so residents have to settle for less.

Ojika George, a resident of the area says the Community’s ordeal has become unbearable. “Normally we walk in the water using the CeCe beach by foot and get on to Fanti Town before we can get a car to Town. CeCe beach is a private area, so each time we pass we find it difficult, sometimes we use the Banjol old road route.”

Some of the female marketers told a visitor to the area recently that as they crossed the river, the only means of movement, they could not hide their frustration “This road here we can use it everyday’ sometimes they say they running behind people, I scary but what to do I got to eat and pay my children school fees. This place here so you see no road here, when the water full we can pass Hotel road, the Bridge not good,” says Fatu Kamara.

For the residents of CeCe Beach Community in Banjol lower Virginia access to good road network remains elusive. This is so because they live in Montserrado County, not far from the nation’s capital Monrovia, yet they have no access to a road network that links them to the rest of the city.

Cut off from capital

A recent tour of the area by FrontPageAfrica found residents in the area disgusted at being shut out from the from the rest of the city. The only bridge linking the community to the rest of Banjol lies in ruin and the only means of free movement is by foot.

The community has been cut off from the rest of the nation’s capital due to constant flooding from the St. Paul River. All major routes to the area have been cut-off from the rest of the nation’s capital.

Residents of CeCe Beach could not hide their frustration over the inaction of the government of Liberia to come to their aid.

According to George there was actually a road linking the Community to the rest of Banjol, but the intervention of a series of floods have completely washed away the major route including the Bridge. Says George “There was a bridge but the flood came and wiped everything away. When it rains excessively the water gets filled all over the place and there is no other way for the water to flow, it forces it’s way through this place, that’s how you see all the damage that is here. People have died because of this flooding. It is a serious problem for us.

George noted that school kids, the elderly and the sick are the most affected.

Sad way of life

George says that most of the students use the route through the water on a daily basis. As a result of the inaccessibility of the community those who own cars have to park their vehicles several miles away from where they live while they continue the journey on foot to their homes, something he termed as suffering. “They park their cars in Fanti Town then they get in the water to come.”

George says that this has been the way of life for the people of this area for several years now. He frowned on the government of Liberia’s inability to salvage the situation

Says George: “Government has been coming saying they will do this, they will do that, up to present, since two years ago; the president herself came here, she made lots of promises and up to present she has not fulfilled one of them. I am still appealing to her and the relevant authorities to come to our aid at least to put the best mechanism in place and see how much they can fix the Hotel Africa Bridge.”

A visitor to the area found that the collapse of the bridge was not the only trauma for residents. Some residents lamented to a visitor that the water that flows from the St. Paul River is the problem as a result of the collapse of the Hotel Africa bridge.

Others spoke about the fact that the Irish contingent of United Nations Mission in Liberia(UNMIL) recently constructed a bailey bridge on the same site without clearing the old debris, as a result of that clog the water finds its way forcefully into the ocean breaking down every structure in it’s path.

Wolobah B. Yekeku, Town Chief of the Piakosan Community in Banjol explained to FPA the community’s plight “Actually we have been locked up. When I say locked up I mean the road network here going to the beach is in a deplorable condition. Since the bridge got broken down almost everybody from VOA, on the main road coming all the way this way they have to walk in the water. Even students from the beach, they have to walk in the water to come to school here and only this area we have school. Those that live on the beach area going to Hotel Africa, there are no school around that area. The students have to walk in the water to come all the way here to go to school. Marketers from VOA, from all over they have to walk in the water to go on the beach just to get fish for their daily bread to go and sell, this is the problem we are facing.”

A frustrated Chief Yekeku lamented: “Actually since the bridge broke down, since that time we have tried our possible best to, I mean to no avail! Even our government officials I will tell you that from this end they have not paid attention to us. None of them will come to help us, only when it is time for elections, they will come and make promises, but after elections when they leave, we will not see them anymore. We have been on this for so many years to no avail, no help from any body at all. So this is the situation we are faced with here; we are appealing to whosoever can come to our aid, it will be a great help to us. We are appealing to NGO’s, well meaning Liberians who can at least feel our plight and come to our aid. We are actually in dire need. I will tell you, especially when I see the students from on that beach, when I see Market women, I can feel very bad but I mean nothing else I can do, we just have to continue appealing to those in authority, and those who can see our suffering and come assist us. That’s what we can do because the bridge it is not like anything that the community itself can just put together, you know it’s costly to fix or build a bridge that’s the problem. It is above our limit!”

Mr. Eric Giko, a prominent resident of the area, explains that the situation with the water is depressing, Says Geeko: “When I arrived from the States my cousins told me that the road was cut and it will take a wheel barrow to take my things home I thought he was joking but that’s how I was able to get home. Since then I have been making some appeals here and there. I was here in February the water situation was tamed at least we had little access where we made a little road in the swamp and that road got washed away during this recent flood, so this time around there is no road whatsoever, so we have to use the beach along the Atlantic ocean to get to town. I park my car at CeCe beach because there is no way I can bring it here as you can see. I was depressed the next morning after I got here and walked around to actually see the situation. I was told the President came and nothing’s happened since that’s the plight we face right now.

Giko says the rain came down for couple of days and the water build-up and in the process of finding access to the ocean the path it found was the property of the owner of CeCe Beach. “The water had to find access to the ocean and the least path of resistance that it could find was Cece’s property”

The owner of the beach resort who seem the most victimized from the flood as she lost property valued at over 400,000 US dollars declined to address the issue on grounds that she has given up on the government and is therefore resigned to the state that her business and the entire Community has found itself in due to flooding of the St. Paul’s river.

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