Friday, April 22, 2011

Liberia: Withering Roads and Security

A. Abbas Dulleh

Source: All Africa

It would have been far more convenient for falling on the mode of travel the ancestors had at their convenience--the hammock--through which 'lesser' men carried dignitaries on their heads from village to village. But for President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in this 21st Century, it must have been odd and unbelievable that Africa's oldest republic, independent since 1847, lacks basic roads on which its president can travel.

As the President's convoy crawled on the rugged path, it became evident that not even the best 4-wheel drive vehicles would conquer the terrain. Swiftly, the cars turned around, unable to continue the journey.

After 14 years of war and the first 6 years of uninterrupted peace, the country as a whole has a huge infrastructure dilemma, and the disappearing roads in Bong County, the country's 3rd most populated political sub division, hinder economic development.

At some points during the tour, impassable road prevented President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf's convoy from reaching citizens in some of the 12 districts of Bong County.

Residents say these impediments forced them to use hammocks and motorcycles to transport patients (some of them pregnant women in complicated delivery pain) to the nearest clinics.
The roads in some of the towns and surrounding villages have disappeared under bushes, while residents use logs as makeshift bridges.

In spite of warnings from Radio Gbarnga, alerting that the President's convoy against the bad road condition of some of the remotest parts of the county, the presidential party ventured on the bumpy Gbarnga-Kokoya District road, taking 5 hours, instead of the 2-hour drive when that road was newly built, to reach Botota where Grand Bassa and Nimba border with Bong.

Citizens expressed surprised to see the president in some of the remotest villages, like in Yolota where she had gone to dedicate a clinic funded by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.

"Oh, this old lady is not afraid. Some government officials do not visit us due to the bad road condition. We heard that she was coming, but we did not believe it. Look at this ugly road," one elderly male villager said in Yolota.

It was observed that members of the President's advance security detail had laid logs across some areas where the roads are cut off by drainages to enable the president's convoy to reach some villages.

Due to the terrible road conditions, some of the villages are not accessible by drivers and motorcyclists who charge passengers exorbitantly.

"As you can see, I am carrying a little boy, a goat and a sheep from this village to Gbarnga. There is no other way we can manage it, but I will push until I can reach today," one motorcyclist told this writer.

In the isolated village of Yolata where President Sirleaf dedicated two clinics -- the Rock Crusher Clinic and the Yolota Clinic -- the inhabitants asked the president to address their road problem as priority number one.

The citizens appealed to President Sirleaf to assist them with a better road so that they can access their clinic faster.

The president assured them that the ongoing government road rehabilitation project will include their district, but advised them to cooperate with the team if and when the work starts.

"Before I came, I was told that bad road is one of the major problems in this area. But I will do something about it. The road, we say, is bad but we will do something about it," she assured the citizens of Kokoya District.

With a population of 30,330 persons in Sanoyea District, most of its towns and villages remain isolated due to bad roads or lack of motor roads.

Inhabitants of the district told President Sirleaf that their district is affected by bad roads and insecurity.

Sanoyea District commissioner, Canton Bornor said there is no police deport in Sanoyea and that ex-fighters make the place ungovernable whenever they come from the gold mines across the St. Paul River in Gbapolu County.

The placement of chiefs and teachers on payroll is one of the major problems affecting the district, and this is a serious problem for us here," Prof. Richard Dorley, an executive at the National Bank, told President Sirleaf when she visited Sanoyea.

Some teachers of the district also told this writer that they might drop their chalk if their plight was not addressed.

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Inside Liberia with Bernard Gbayee Goah

Everyone is a genius

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – A Einstein

Drawing the line in Liberia

Crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by handful of individuals cannot be blamed upon an entire nationality. In this case, Liberians! The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal or some credible legal forum that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results. - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Men with unhealthy characters should not champion any noble cause

They pretend to advocate the cause of the people when their deeds in the dark mirror nothing else but EVIL!!
When evil and corrupt men try to champion a cause that is so noble … such cause, how noble it may be, becomes meaningless in the eyes of the people - Bernard Gbayee Goah.

If Liberia must move forward ...

If Liberia must move forward in order to claim its place as a civilized nation amongst world community of nations, come 2017 elections, Liberians must critically review the events of the past with honesty and objectivity. They must make a new commitment to seek lasting solutions. The track records of those who are presenting themselves as candidates for the position of "President of the Republic of Liberia" must be well examined. Liberians must be fair to themselves because results from the 2011 elections will determine the future of Liberia’s unborn generations to come - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's greatest problem!

While it is true that an individual may be held responsible for corruption and mismanagement of funds in government, the lack of proper system to work with may as well impede the process of ethical, managerial, and financial accountability - Bernard Gbayee Goah

What do I think should be done?

The situation in Liberia is Compound Complex and cannot be fixed unless the entire system of government is reinvented.
Liberia needs a workable but uncompromising system that will make the country an asylum free from abuse, and other forms of corruption.
Any attempt to institute the system mentioned above in the absence of rule of law is meaningless, and more detrimental to Liberia as a whole - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's Natural Resources
Besides land water and few other resources, most of Liberia’s dependable natural resources are not infinite, they are finite and therefore can be depleted.
Liberia’s gold, diamond, and other natural resources will not always be an available source of revenue generation for its people and its government. The need to invent a system in government that focuses on an alternative income generation method cannot be over emphasized at this point - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia needs a proper system
If Liberians refuse to erect a proper system in place that promotes the minimization of corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government institutions, and individuals, there will come a time when the value of the entire country will be seen as a large valueless land suited on the west coast of Africa with some polluted bodies of waters and nothing else. To have no system in place in any country is to have no respect for rule of law. To have no respect for rule of law is to believe in lawlessness. And where there is lawlessness, there is always corruption - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Solving problems in the absence of war talks

As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for Liberia is Great Britain, and the US war on terror for the purpose of global security. The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results. Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks. The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression. In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sides to be heard. I believe there are always three sides to every story: Their side of the story, Our side of the story, and The truthBernard Gbayee Goah


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