The government of Liberia, through the Ministry of Public Works, has opened up the border town of Loguatuo in northeastern Nimba County.
A brand new bridge has been built to re-link the border town with the Ivory Coast, thus making the dream of thousands of cross-border traders and commercial drivers a reality.
“My brother, I don’t know how to express my happiness. We’ve been praying; it was our dream to see this happening and it has finally happened.”
“Am grateful to the Almighty God, and I say big thank to the government of Liberia for this very significant step towards poverty reduction,” Oretha Menpleh, a Liberian businesswoman told the New Dawn at Loguatuo.
The new bridge replaces the previous steel bridge destroyed during the Liberian civil crisis years back. Loguatuo has been a major link between Ivory Coast and Liberia for decades. An artisanal bridge was built by a collective effort of both Liberian security personnel and elements of the Ivoirian New Forces, but the rain swept that bridge away early last year.
Cross-border trade was then stalled and revenues intake diminished, thus plunging the town of Loguatuo in total abandon. Immigration, Police and Custom officers found themselves in a boring posture, as there were no jobs to do.
Early last February, this paper visited the area and reported that the town was abandoned by government and the only bridge which linked Liberia and the Ivory Coast in total collapse. Immediately following that publication, the Ministry of Public Works announced plans to open up Loguatuo.
“Frankly speaking, our job had become very boring. Now as you can see, business people have started coming, cars are crossing; the Liberian government is once more getting money here. I must say many thanks to you journalists, mainly the New Dawn newspaper for attracting the attention of the government to our ugly situation here. You have greatly contributed to the restoration of hope and life to Loguatuo.”
“This is what I call real journalism, calling the attention of the government to meaningful things like this instead of you dealing with only political issues,” a Liberian Immigration officer intimated.
Across the border, on the Ivoirian side, the New Forces expressed joy.
Greasing his arm, probably in preparedness for an eventual renewal of hostilities in the wake the crisis there, this young fighter was at the paroxysm of joy. “I am very happy for this bridge. We have just been here, no one is coming and no one is going because there is no way to cross with car. Now things are ok with us. We see people resuming their business activities; this is something to make us happy.”
During a recent visit by this paper to the Liberian-Ivorian town, the resumption of normal commercial activities was a reality, as cross-border traders moved from one side to the other.
“This border has been feeding my family for more than ten years now. When the old bridge collapsed, my hope and aspiration dashed with it. Today, I am grateful to the government of Liberia for giving me hope and aspiration again,. I was at the verge of facing hunger. Really, I am happy for this,” Cathérine Gondo, an Ivoirian business woman told the New Dawn on the newly constructed bridge at Loguatuo.
For some economic observers, the construction of a new bridge at Loguatuo and subsequent opening up of the town “is in itself, a great move towards poverty reduction in Liberia.” In an interview with this paper in the Ivorian town of Danane, Salif Ouattara, an Ivoirian economist described the construction of the new bridge as one that will improve the life of hundreds of Liberians.
“For instance, a business man or woman trading between Liberia and Ivory Coast will have the opportunity to send the kids to good schools, and even be able to extend a helping hand to other who are hopeless,” Salif noted.
There is a flow of vehicles between Sanniquellie and the border town as a result of the rehabilitation of the main road by the Public works Ministry. The Ministry should started and completed the process as one of the projects for the July 26 Independence celebrations in 2010, but could not for reasons not released to the New Dawn.