Monrovia - A youth activist and founder of the Youth Network for Reform, (YONER)-Liberia, Jarius Andrew Greaves, recently crossed the Mesurado River to meet with the River Union head on ways to help mitigate the situation regarding life jackets.
Mr. Greaves said he read an FPA’s publication about the danger of posed to students and other passengers crossing the river without kife jackets.
Unlike Mr. Greaves’ effort, neither the Ministry of Transport who is responsible for road and rail, air and marine transport, has visited the site along the riverside to see the first hand danger and risk involved, nor has the ministry send a team to verify the information; though there was an acknowledgment from the Ministry that river transportation is new and out of their reach.
Greaves, who recently contacted FPA to accompany him across the Mesurado River, upon his arrival to Liberia, said he read the story on the website of FrontPageAfrica and was asked by his partners to meet with the Canoe Transport Union and work with them in securing life jackets in the near future.
“I am a youth activist and my concern includes, bettering the lives of youth worldwide, and since the Union is dealing with many students who happens to be youth, my partners asked me to meet and talk with you about challenges faced by the Union,” he said.
During the meeting held on the West Point side of the River, Eric D. Kwahin, General Manager, West Point Standard Sea and River Transport, welcomed his guests and outlined the major challenge of insufficient life jackets amongst others.
“Our major challenge is insufficient life jackets for the students; we have been able to get 14 pieces of jackets only enough for two canoes that we are presently using since the closure of schools for the break. We have five canoes and each canoe takes seven persons,” said Eric Kwahin.
Kwahin said when schools are in session, students make up half of the passengers that are ferried across the river. He pointed out that during that period, the river traffic is busy, because they make between 100-120 trips, to cross West Point and back.
When asked by Mr. Greaves as to how many life jackets the union will need to reduce the risk for passengers, Kwahin answered:
“We need about 50-75 pieces of life jackets, because they will at least last for the period of 3-6 months.
These 14 pieces of jackets won’t last because we wash them after every three days, and washing wears out the jackets quickly. So if we had about 50 or 75 jackets, we will wash them after every two weeks, and then the jackets will last longer.”
Listing the lack of security for passengers as another challenge, Kwahin said market women are exposed to robbery.
“Since the market women have seen the canoe transport to be one of the safest ways to secure their money after selling their goods, criminals have now erected a ghetto right in the area because they have noticed the market women no longer take the both bridges where they are normally robbed by criminals when they are crossing.
"Therefore the problem of security is serious.”
Mr. Greaves and Kwahin exchanged contacts and Greaves promised to get back to the Canoe Transport Union as soon as possible regarding life jackets.