Paynesville – A petit trader Marie Kollie woke up early Thursday morning hoping to begin her normal hustle, but she was astonished to see stores closed as bulldozers and tractors cleared the main street in the busy Red Light market to make room for ongoing road construction work.
“For me in the morning, I can come and buy my goods from the stores to sell. So I could not believe my eyes when I saw the stores closed, I thought today was holiday,” Madam Kollie said.
The idea of constructing the road and giving the market a facelift to Madam Kollie is welcoming but she frowned on the lack of information to marketers before the start of the exercise.
“To wake up in the morning and you cannot do your business is confusing, if government wants to build the road we are not against it but we should be inform about it,” Madam Kollie added.
But the head of Communications at the Paynesville City Council Jani Jallah disagrees that businesses were not informed about the road closure.
“We were informed by the Ministry of Public works, one of the things they stressed is that they wanted to finish the road in one week due to the rain, we had meeting with marketer heads and the transport sector about the plan and we all agreed,” Jallah said.
Madam Kollie and many other petit traders might be out of business for one week according to the information circulated by the Paynesville City Cooperation.
Madam Kollie thinks one week is too long to be out of business. “The business we are doing is from hand to mouth to be sitting home we will eat the small money we get,”
“For some of us we are saving with the people in the stores, so if they were coming to tell us we were going to take our money to do different business,” Madam Kollie said.
Jallah argues that keeping stores open will hamper the road construction adding that the PCC did not shut the entire Red Light down.
“Once the stores are open it will be a problem. The Ministry of Public Works needs less traffic, we can’t shut the entire Red Light down, we understand they have to do business,” Jallah added.
A resident of Parker Paint Aaron Wehyee welcomed the initiative by the government adding that pavement of the Red Light road will bring relief to the commercial district.
“My brother where in the world government will be carrying on development and people will not cry,” Wehyee added.
Wehyee believes that the ongoing road construction will add value to the commercial district of Red-light adding that it is only fair enough that marketers bear the brunt.
“If cars can freely come in Red Light, those very people that are complaining will be the ones benefitting,” Wehyee said.
“To pass in Red-light is not an easy thing, this road is bad, and we should be thanking the government.” Wehyee said.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf made a brief stop as the road construction was ongoing. The President was greeted with huge crowd of marketers chanting “We want sell, oldma we want sell.” President Sirleaf waved to the crowd and continued the inspection of the project and later drove out without saying a word to the group of marketers.
To give way to the Ministry of Public Works to begin the reconstruction of 500 meters of road commencing from Container Site to Ma Kebbeh Gas station the Paynesville City Corporation (PCC) on Wednesday April 20, 2016 midnight closed the road.
The corridor will be shut down and inaccessible to the general public. Business owners and marketers will be unable to open or operate their businesses for the five days period.
According to Jallah, the Paynesville Business Association has suggested that stores should open as the road construction progresses.
Jallah continued: “This is development. It is more beneficial to the businesses and the citizens, we are appreciative of the business, we are hoping that it finishes before the weekend.”
Jallah said, that the five days’ notice will not extend if there is no rainfall. “We told them five days without rains; we pray that it doesn’t rain.”
The Liberian Government and the World Bank signed an agreement totaling an estimated US$249 million for the rehabilitation of the approximately 249-kilometer Monrovia (Red Light)-Gbarnga-Ganta-Guinea border road. This Liberia Road Asset Management Project (LIBRAMP) also provides for the maintenance of the road over a 10-year period.
The objective of the project is to support Liberia’s efforts to reduce transport costs and travel time along the road corridor from Monrovia to the Guinea border and to maintain the road in good condition over a 10-year period.
Currently, much of the road corridor is severely deteriorated and some sections are not readily passable during the rainy season, thereby greatly undermining transport efficiency, reliability, safety and comfort of road users.
The total estimated project cost is US$249 million, of which about US$176 million is being provided from International Development Association -IDA (approx. US$68 million) through its credit to Liberia, and approximately US$109 million grant from the multi-donor Liberia Reconstruction Trust Fund (LRTF) administered by the World Bank.
The Oversight Committee (OC) of the LRTF has already approved the project concept and committed funds to co-finance the proposed project, through contributions and pledges received from the governments of Germany, Sweden, Ireland, the United Kingdom and Norway, the European Commission and the World Bank.