Liberia: Transport Minister Expresses Frustration over Unsafe Water Transportation
Report by Mae Azango [email protected]
Monrovia – Transport Minister Samuel A. Wlue Thursday, June 7, paid a surprised visit to the river crossing point between Clara Town and West Point. Min. Wlue expressed frustration over the very unsafe way canoes’ operators were transporting people from both sides of the Mesurado River between Clara Town and West Point.“I am totally disheartened to observe at firsthand the unsafe mode of water transport being used to ferry citizens and residents across. This poses a very serious danger to the lives of our citizens,” he stated.
Speaking to executives, including the head of the Liberia National Sea and River Transport Union (LNSRTU), Mr. Eric Kwahin, Min. Wlue said one of the major responsibilities of any government is to ensure the safety of all of its citizens. According to him, as Minister of Transport, he sees it as an obligation that he takes the bull by the horn to find a lasting solution so as to avoid a catastrophe.
“I will lift the issue at the highest level to address two major issues that need immediate attention, including getting life jackets and building of a shelter to host passengers waiting to be ferried across the river.
“I will personally take robust steps to realize these as soon as possible. I urge the leadership of the Union to begin negotiating with owners of a space for the possible construction of the shelter along the bank,” Wlue urged them.
He received some of the loudest applauds when he assured the crowd that he would do all to request kindly President George Manneh Weah to visit with the Union leadership where they are plying their trade.
Responding, Mr. Emmanuel Obeng, Manager for Operations, thanked Minister Wlue for the giant step taken to come to them to observe the situation firsthand and his readiness to help find improve their business.
“We are so happy and thank you for taking such a giant step to come and see us. You have expressed concern in finding solutions in addressing the safety issues. We will work along with the Ministry to ensure things improve,” Obeng added.
The Minister was accompanied on the tour by the Directors of Rail & Waterway, Mr. Amos Tuah and Public Affairs Officer, Mr. Samuel G. Barjibo, Sr.
FrontPage Africa, which unearthed the river transportation to the public four years ago, had written many stories highlighting the risks involved with crossing the river without life jacket.
Last Friday, June 1, was the latest story published highlighting the danger again.
Following the publication, the Director of Rail/Waterway, Mr. Amos Tuah, was the first senior official of the Transport Ministry to visit with the leadership of the union. During the discussion, he had promised to prevail on his boss, Minister Wlue, to also come too, and see for himself.
The Liberia National Sea and River Transport Union leadership was shocked when Minister Wlue arranged a surprised visitation with them.