Criminals Rob Stranded Passengers on Gbarnga-Menikoma Road
Gbarnga-Menikoma Road – Robbers have cashed in on the unending gridlock on the Gbarnga-Menikoma highway with many motorists and passengers being dispossessed of their valuables.
Report by Selma Lomax, [email protected]
Motorists, who spoke with FrontPageAfrica Friday, said the criminals attacked them as the gridlock intensified due to the deplorable condition of the road.
Some victims said the robbers attacked Voinjama-bound vehicles held up in the traffic and stole phones and money, among other valuables.
A motorist, Sammy Bedell, said the hoodlums operated at about 8pm on Thursday. He said: “They targeted almost all the vehicles that were in the mud. They harassed almost everyone and collected their valuables and jumped in the bush.
“I think they came from Zorzor. Some taxi drivers managed to reach the police, but before the police could arrive the robbers had left”, he said.
A commuter, who did not identify himself, described how the robbers operated.
“Some of them wore masks and had machete. They attacked vehicles that had been in the traffic since day. They threatened to kill us if we didn’t give what we had. It was scary; some people jumped out of their vehicles and ran away,” he said.
He said the hoodlums escaped into the surrounding bushes. It was learnt that police officers from the Zorzor police deport responded to the situation. A policeman told FrontPageAfrica reporter that no arrest was made.
He told our reporter: “We have observed that the criminals now have hideouts on this route since they have noticed that passengers are spending nights on the road due to the condition of the road. “
“When they spotted the police patrol vehicle, they fled in the bush. The most important thing was to stop the robbery, which we did. We were able to assure the motorists driving on the route that the criminals had fled and that they were safe.”
No water, food for stranded Passengers
On the highway between Voinjama to Gbarnga, more than 20 trucks have been stuck since Thursday night in a traffic jam stretching 30 miles.
Cars trying to escape the traffic by turning into the nearby grasslands have ended up stuck in the mud.
The snakes around seemingly endless fields of grass on the other side of the route, leaving some truck drivers and bus passengers stranded in the cold without water or food, and miles from any shops close to the road, FrontPage Africa reporter can confirm.
“It’s terrible. Children are crying in my bus due to hunger,” one bus driver told FrontPage Africa.
The jam is a result of heavy rains and road repairs, which have been going on for at least six months.
The highway is a heavily used road for transporting food and cargo, between Bong and Lofa counties. On a good day, it already takes truck drivers more than seven hours make the 310-mile between Bong and Lofa counties.
The ongoing road diversions have left travellers angry, with many saying that it has inconvenienced commuters and disrupted business.
For commuters in Bong and Lofa, these conditions are nothing new. Poor road maintenance mixed with severe weather have often left motorists stranded in gridlock.
Friday August 5 will not easily be forgotten by commuters who passed through the Gbarnga-Zorzor section of the highway, which some of them likened to the valley of the shadow of death.
It was a harrowing experience that began early in the morning for most of the passengers who had left their homes to catch the next available vehicle, ostensibly to beat the rain which normally falls heavily in the morning.
While some of these passengers were lucky to beat the time, others failed. But whether they left so early or much later, they were to go through hell on the Gbarnga-Menikoma highway.
Unknown to so many of these passengers, there was a failed portion of the road and commercial transporters who are known for their impatience had boxed themselves by forming five lanes from both sides and opposite ends of the road, thereby getting into a gridlock that could have been created only by insane minds.
To worsen the situation, none of the security or traffic enforcement officials were around to control the situation. It was indeed anarchy unleashed on humanity as the road became a living hell for all those trapped in the gridlock.
Trust nature to take its course. Women who needed to answer the call of nature were badly constrained and exposed. The vehicles and their overzealous drivers were overstretched and hunger punished the travellers.
It took almost seven hours to get to Gbarnga, a journey that should have lasted two hours in normal circumstances. As night fall approached, many of the passengers started nursing another fear – attack of armed robbers who have made the highway a haven to carry out their devilish activities.
Some of the commuters who spoke to FrontPage Africa stated that it is only God’s intervention and mercy that spared the lives of those who developed health problems during the journey.
“Any person who gets malaria, pregnant woman that went into labor or a cardiac case that developed at that point was bound to be life threatening,” a passenger who did not give his identity said.
A Zorzor-bound commuter, who simply identified himself as Jerry, told FrontPageAfrica Friday that he boarded a luxury bus at Lofa parking in Gbarnga as early as 6am to enable him arrive Zorzor early enough.