Catholic Diocese of Cape Palmas Says Bad Roads in Southeast Liberia Compromises and Endangers Citizens’ Safety

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MONROVIA – The Catholic Diocese of Cape Palmas has described as compromising and endangering the lives of citizens and incalculable loss of goods and properties the continuous bad road conditions along the main corridors leading to South-eastern Liberia.

The Catholic Diocese of Cape Palmas comprises of the five counties in the Southeast, including, Grand Gedeh, Grand Kru, River Gee, Sinoe and Maryland Counties

In a statement issued in Monrovia under the caption: A statement of concern on the Challenges, Difficulties, and Dangers of Travelling into and out of the South-Eastern Region of Liberia, the Diocese pointed out that the prevailing conditions of bad roads in the area is posing serious challenges, difficulties, and dangers for the movement of people and goods.

The statement was issued under the signature of the Most Rev. Andrew Jagaye Karnley Bishop of Cape Palmas, who is the Administrative Head of the Diocese.

The Church indicates that citizens and others are compelled to risk their lives while traveling to Southeastern Liberia due to the bad road conditions.

It made specific reference to the recent shipwreck on the waters in Maryland County.

On July 17, the locally made NIKO IVANKA vessel sang in Maryland County, while carrying over 28 passengers. Few persons have been found dead, while several others have been rescued by the Liberian Coast Guard (LCG), with support from Sea Shepherd.

The wrecked vessel which was reportedly grounded and declared unfit by the Liberian government through the Liberia Maritime Authority (LiMA), surreptitiously left Monrovia and sailed to Maryland County.

Who ordered or lifted the stay order on the sailing of the vessel remains unknown up to the present as the government has since launched an investigation.

“The safety of people is compromised and endangered in their taking risks to travel on deplorable roads and on vessels that are not seaworthy. The recent tragedy of the MV Niko Ivanka, bound from the Freeport of Monrovia to the ports of the southeast, illustrates this concern of safety”.

According to the Cape Palmas Diocese of the Catholic Church in Liberia, the painful memories of the loss of human lives and goods in sinking vessels at sea in the past still linger in the minds of people.

The Church maintained that the loss of lives and goods is irreparable, and the trauma of the survivors of this tragedy and others in the past may take a long time to go away or may never even go away.

Unbearable time spend on bad roads

The Church further termed as “unbearable” the length of time citizens commuting to and from counties in the Southeast spend on these deplorable roads.

Commuting from Monrovia to the Southeast is between 10 to 15 hours respectively, depending on the counties.

It noted that subjecting citizens and others to stay multiple hours on bad roads is totally dehumanizing them in their own country.

“The length of time people spend on these deplorable roads is unbearable, and the conditions under which they are subjected on the roads are dehumanizing. The damage to goods and the cost of the wear and tear on vehicles are incalculable”.

The Church pointed out that the deplorable nature of the roads is immensely contributing to the “soaring” of the prices of goods and services to the disadvantage of the ordinary Liberian people, and even for those who can afford.

Attractive but neglected

The Church disclosed that the region (Southeast) “hardly attract people and even its own sons and daughters for religious, social, and cultural activities because of the challenges, difficulties, and dangers in traveling on the roads.

It maintains that organizations working in the region and ordinary people are finding it extremely expensive and challenging to carry on development work in any of the counties of the southeast of Liberia.

“Additionally, the institutions of the southeast do not attract and retain qualified and productive human resource because it is an uphill task to travel in and out of any county safely, timely, and cheaply”.

The Church emphasizes that the attractive white sand coastal beaches and the lush green forest sectors of the southeast would hold a lot of potential for recreational and tourism purposes if the roads are improved and made easily accessible.

It adds that the roads will make a positive difference in agricultural and economic activities in that part of Liberia, thus providing unlimited opportunities for gainful employment if actions are taken to ensure the speedy construction of the corridors of the Southeast.

Commendation

Meanwhile, the Cape Palmas Diocese has commended the Unity Party (UP) led-government of ex-Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for initiating the construction of the Harper to Fish Town road project in 2015.

The project which is nearing completion is being financed by the African Development Bank.

The Church noted that the continuity of this project under the current movement is also commendable.

“It is welcome news that work has begun on the Ganta – Saclepea road through support from the Government of Liberia; and the assurance of support by the World Bank for the Saclepea – Toe Town road is also encouraging”.

“However, it is of vital importance that other road corridors are properly maintained for the easy and safe movement of people and goods’ The Buchanan – Greenville road and the corridor into Grand Kru County from Greenville deserve attention. I note with appreciation the ongoing road works in Grand Kru County by SSF’, The feeder road projects by the Swedish and Liberian governments in some rural communities of the southeast of Liberia are noteworthy contributions to the development of the road infrastructure of the region”.

Plea to Government

The Church called on the Liberian government, through the Ministry of Transport and other relevant agencies to ensure that the movement of people and goods by sea and road is possible and safe by the best standards.

It notes that private citizens could invest in acquiring vessels to serve the coastal communities of Liberia if safety measures are put in place by the government.

“Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) deserves recognition and commendation for providing safe air travel into and out of the communities of the southeast of Liberia since 2016.’They deserve credit for their professionalism, strict observance of safety standards, and the regular maintenance of their aircrafts. I therefore plead with the Government and ail stakeholders of Liberia to prioritize and take concrete actions for the improvement and the regular maintenance of the roads into and out of the southeast of Liberia, which are pivotal in unleashing the potentials the region holds”.

The Church maintains that it remains hopeful and prayerful that every town and village in Liberia will be made accessible.

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