|No Road No Vote Bardnersville Voters Warn By-Election Candidates|
|Published on October 22, 2009||Email To Friend Print Version
By D Kaihenneh Sengbeh
Thousands of residents of Bardnersville Township and surrounding communities are embittered with deplorable road conditions, and have sounded an early warning bell to Montserrado County senatorial by-election candidates.
The National Elections Commission (NEC) has set November 10, 2009 for the by-election to fill a vacancy of Montserrado junior senator at the National Legislature left by the passing of Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) elect Hannah Brent.
Most voters in the area say they will not waste precious time casting their prized votes for power grabbers, who will turn their backs after taking the seat.
“In the past elections they fooled us; they promised what God Himself has not promised us, and we voted for them. Today, they consider us as fools,” an angry resident, William Johnson, told The Informer Wednesday morning in Bardnersville Estate. “This time we are wise fools: they must fix our road first before they win the desired votes from here.”
Johnson and at least 100 others - students, workers and marketers - crammed before Bardnersville’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf-constructed market building scrambling for the few vehicles that ply the deplorable roads.
The Bardnersville road—extending from Somalia Drive to the Bardnersville Housing Estate — hosts at least 10,000 residents and is in its worst condition ever, inhabitants of the area claim.
The feeder road serves as a major route to at least 75,000 people living in Bardnersville, Johnsonville, Diggsville and nearby communities.
Deep and multiple pot holes and gutters cover almost every part of the road, making vehicular movements difficult and dangerous.
When a transport bus choked with market women somersaulted last week, at least 10 people suffered serious injuries in the Day Break Mouth Opens Community.
The driver was trying to dodge one of the deep pot holes, witnesses said.
“You can’t blame the driver, all this is happening because the road is bad,” an angry woman shouted in the midst of a public debates on the accident. “Those responsible have turned their backs on this road,” she added, leaving the scene in disgust.
Many commercial drivers no longer ply the route, posing economic and social problems for the masses there.
Despite complaints, Public Works Minister Samuel Koffi Woods says “Bardnersville Road is one of the many community and feeder roads that will be worked on during the next dry season.”
“We are aware of the situation, but the people must understand that we don’t work on roads during rainy season, we will address them in few months from now,” the infrastructure Minister, who took on the job few months, ago said recently.
But this is not the first time government has promised to work on the road. Former Public Works Minister Loseni Donzo, now advisor to President Sirleaf on Infrastructure, promised and did nothing when he was at the Ministry. “It is now three-and-a-half years since this government came to power...Three dry seasons have come and gone—, and they have not kept their promises,” Johnson said.
“Now, we will demand it from those who want to be junior Senator for this county. Let it go forth to them, if they fail to work on our road, they will receive no vote from here,” Johnson warned, fighting energetically to get a cab heading for town. Waving to this writer he said: “This is how we do it here—-go and report it.”
Johnson is not alone with the frustration: Jackson Josiah, who resides just outside Bardnersville Estate—behind Area F says “I feel bad because our road is very bad.” He believes the road causes health problems for those forced to travel it every day. “If you don’t get body pain, you will get stomach pain, and if you have pregnancy, you will suffer abortion; if you have an emergency situation, the problem will worsen,” Josiah, a student at the University of Liberia explained.
“The transport situation is extremely tough here; commercial drivers are refusing to come here, and if they come, they charge very high fares,” he lamented.
According to him, some commercial drivers charge between L$60 and L$70 from Bardnersvile to central Monrovia.
Thelma B. Nyanquoi, a vehicle owner annoyed about the situation, has vowed not to give her vote to any candidate in the November 10 by-election, and is hoping that others would do likewise.
“I feel very bad and discouraged about our senators and even government officials that we have here in Bardnersville Estate. We have lots of them here, we voted them into positions, but they see the road and do nothing about it,” Thelma explained.
Montserrado County Superintendents Beauty Barcon, Sinoe County Senator Mabutu V. Nyepan, House Speaker J. Alex Tyler, Defense Minister Brownie Samukai, the Executive Director of LACE Ramsey Kumbuya, and the representative of the area to National Legislature (District #8) Dave Koomey, are among several top government officials that live in the area and ply the damaged route daily.
Thelma said government officials who live in the area do not feel what the ordinary people go through. “They have big cars, and they easily pass through these pot holes, unlike us who have smaller cars.”
Lamenting further, she disclosed, “few days ago I experienced a problem—my gas tank burst, because of the road.”
“The road is terrible, it is ridiculous. When you see the road you see that you are around some gold mines,” referring to the deep pits on the road. “It looks like a well. It does not look a road for cars to be on. It looks very bad,” Thelma described the scene.
President Sirleaf visited Bardnersville twice in August to ensure that the E Jonathan High School was in a good condition; she suspended Education Minister Dr. Joseph Korto for the deplorable state of the school.
Thelma lives right in front of the school: “I thought that when she (President) came and saw the condition of the road and left, things would have changed the following week; yet, we have not seen anything.”
Presidential spokesman Cyrus Wleh Badio has since said the Ministry of Public Works will reconstruct “that road during the dry season, and the people of Bardnersville need to exercise some patience.”
“The people we vote in position feel that we are nothing to them. We vote for them to seek our interest, but when they get into power, they cast us aside,” Thelma continued. “I will not cast [my vote] for anyone. I know what I want, so I will keep my vote.”
Thelma feels that the government of the UP should have done more for Bardnersville by now. “They insulted our people in this Bardnersville Estate, because of UP…our mothers were on their feet to make sure that UP was elected, and UP has been elected, now see our roads.”
A commercial drivers who resides in the area, Gbongoma Sengbeh, says he no longer uses his vehicle on the road, because if he does, he will incur huge expenses.
“It is disheartening. It’s like we are out of town, in the hinterland like Rivergee or Rivercess County,” the taxi driver said, adding, “it is the common people—the civil servants, students, marketers and other poor people—that suffer it most, and they will continue to feel it until government does something about the road.”
Despite the encumbering situation, others feel that government is facing constraints.
Teeko Yorlay, an eminent youth of Bardnersville observes that bad road conditions is not unique to Bardnersville, but a phenomenon the entire country faces. “Even Broad Street [in the heart] of Monrovia is deplorable with pot holes,” he said.
He agreed that many promises have been made in the past, but this time it would be fulfilled, because the current Minister of Public Works, “Samuel Kofi Woods, is a man of his word.”
“We have to be realistic and nationalistic that there exist tremendous challenges, but the Minister has assured us that Bardnersville road will be of major priority during the dry season,” Teeko Yorlay told The Informer in a telephone interview.
He said after Minister Woods returned from a Road Show program chaired in Europe last week, Yorlay and others - including Gabriel Nyenka - met the minister to discuss issues regarding the Bardnersville road. “The minister gave us a positive assurance, and we believe in him.”
The Minister, he noted, told them that working on the roads during the rainy season would be a waste of resources.
He however called on the people of the area not to tie the road situation to the Montserrado by-election, because it is not the candidates who caused the roads to be so. “The road has been like that even before the by-election issue came out.”
Whatsoever the case may be, the people of Bardnersville and its surrounding communities are disenchanted about their road condition and need attentions right now.