Monrovia - In Liberia, the conditions of roads are dilapidated and continue to pose a huge challenge to prospects for economic development. Montserrado County, where the capital city, Monrovia, is situated with its entire commercial prowess, continues to endure these challenges.
Many communities in Montserrado County lack access to good roads, schools and safe drinking water, something that has led them to be forgotten. Travel to Cheesemanburg one of the oldest townships in the county is difficult and residents say that the last time they saw an earth moving equipment was more than twenty years ago.
Like Cheesemanburg, many communities in and around Montserrado County are crying out to the government to help open up the roads to emancipate them from the many years of hardship and unproductiveness. These communities are now beginning to embrace a private individual Mr. Abraham Sesay of the Abraham Sesay Foundation who has taken upon himself the responsibility of opening up roads in several communities around the county.
Thomas S. Cassell, Commissioner, Cheesemanburg Township, is excited that the frontend loader and tractors are on his long forgotten road in the township of Cheesemanburg, refurbishing it to enable the free movement of vehicles and motorbikes in and out of the area. “We are highly elated and impressed by the level of work that is being done by Mr. Sesay, since his entry into the township of Cheesemanburg,” a smiling Cassell said.
“Since the demise of Samuel K. Doe, up to present, no grader has come on this road to have it reconditioned. This is a milestone for this town.” Mr. Cassell said the only school building in the community is in a dilapidated state and there is no health center for residents and their children.
“When it is raining, the very class where the children can sit; the nursery is leaking profusely; the school is up to grade six,” he said. “Since the foundation of this community, there has never been a clinic here. There are over five thousand people living here.”
Matters in their own hands
In the newly established Christopolis Community, located in the Virginia area, residents have taken upon themselves the initiative to develop the roads and bring relief to the community. Mr. Peterson Faryan, Co-Chair, Block C said the community wrote Mr. Sesay a letter, seeking for assistance to build the road and he sent his machines and the work was done.
“Mr. Sesay has been doing a lot in this community. We had a very bad road condition in this community, we talked to Mr. Sesay to help us and he gave his grader (Road equipment) to the community and the community used it to open major alleys and roads in the community that cars are using now. The road condition was very6 bad. The first thing he did was to open a recreation center,” said Mr. Faryan. He said communities have decided to turn to individuals for help to alleviate the burden of underdevelopment faced by these communities.
“The government has lots of constraints and it has to deal with the whole nation. So if an individual is willing to assist a community, I think he is one way or another helping the community. Individually, we all need to build our nation,” he said.
In the VOA community, women and children are seen crossing a small lake that divides the Blamacee community from other areas. There is no bridge to cross to the other side, so they have to walk in the water. Residents say they face a lot of difficulties because of the lack of bridge in the area and during the rainy season, students cross the lake taking off shoes and socks. The residents are elated that Sesay has started the construction of a makeshift bridge.
“I’m happy that they’re building the bridge. I feel so happy that the road is being fixed because during the rainy season, we suffer here, for a car to enter here it can be hard. We want him to do more. I live here and built my house. The war took us from Lofa Bridge. I have three children,” said Adama Kamara, a resident of the area. The initiatives by Abraham Sesay, CEO A.B., Carlison Sesay Foundation may be considered by many as a political initiative, but he said he is doing it because communities have reached out to him for help.
Said Sesay: “We intervene based on request from communities. Currently we are talking about around 25 km in the district that we have covered and we intend to go an additional one hundred, so the target from now to the end of April, we intend to cover at least 150km of Feeder roads connecting communities.” Sesay puts the cost of community roads his organization has rehabilitated in several communities at over US$ 22,000 and said by the end of April he expects the cost to double to around US$ 45,000.
He said the foundation is a humanitarian organization, based in District 17 it is involved in various projects adding that it is self-supported through the membership and individual volunteers. Many of Montserrado County rural dwellers live in extreme poverty where many families still struggle to find food to survive. With the deadly Ebola outbreak, matters have been made worse.
In 2010, Liberia’s GDP per capita was US$400, and more than 80 per cent of Liberians were surviving on less than US$1.25 per day. Three quarters of the poor live in rural areas. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations classifies Liberia as a low-income, food-deficit country, reporting that about half of the population is food-insecure or highly vulnerable to food insecurity.