Liberia: No Bank in Lofa County Despite Huge Population
VOINJAMA, Lofa County – The superintendent of Lofa County, William Tamba Kamba, wants permanent commercial banks established in the county to help promote trade and development.
As of the 2008 Census, Lofa had a population of 276,863, making it the third-most populous county in Liberia. The county has been without bank for the past 15 months. The nearest commercial banks are located in Gbarnga, Bong County, about 150 kilometers away.
The superintendent said the absence of a permanent commercial bank is hindering the development of businesses and exposing residents to risks.
The county boasts of several businesses comprising dealers, hotels, lodges, bars and several other petty businesses that generate sums of money for the proprietors.
However, despite all the commercial transactions, which generate large sums of money, the area lacks a commercial bank to facilitate the trade.
Kamba explains that robbers have taken advantage of the absence of a commercial bank to regularly rob traders of their daily proceeds. Kamba said employees of government are also feeling the brunt of the lack of banks in the county.
“Imagine, if an employee of government is earning LD$15,000, he has to make his way from Lofa to Gbarnga to go access his or her account.
What does that individual come back with? So, it’s creating serious problem for residents.”
Kamba said he has been in negotiations with several banks to establish branches in the county, but negotiations have stalled due to the current Covid-19 pandemic in the country.
“The lack of banks in the county is increasing the hardship of locals. We are appealing to relevant authority to see the need and establish a branch in the county to alleviate the sufferings of the ordinary people,” he decried.
“Going Gbarnga to access your account becomes is a very costly venture that ordinary people have decried. When a permanent bank is stationed in the county the money locals spend as fare to travel to other counties to access their accounts will be diverted to something meaningful.”
Meanwhile, the County Health Officer of the county, Dr. John S. Doedeh, has also bemoaned the challenges health workers in the county face in traveling to other counties due to the absence of banks.
Most health workers in Lofa County have an account with Eco Bank and they travel to nearby counties to transact, a situation that’s become a burden for us,” Doedeh said.
Momo T. Cyrus, Chief Executive Officer of Security Expert Guard Agency, said that situation is alarming and needs the urgent attention of the government. He said: “The county authority should ensure financial institutions are brought in the county to ease constraints faced by locals.”
Cyrus said being the third most populous county in the country without a single bank highlights the pains locals are facing in a country already challenged by deplorable roads. He wants the county’s legislative caucus to unite with an agenda in meeting relevant banking institutions to salvage the plights of residents.
“This is the time for our leaders to show leadership because their people are facing hardship due to the lack of banks in the county. They should put aside their political indifference and unite in addressing this situation for the benefit of the county,” he said.