On Monday, January 25, 2010, we published a front page story under the caption- Lugatuo: A Hell For Cross Border Trade. In that story, we quoted our staff writer, who has just returned from an assessment visit to Logatuo, Nimba County as saying that the only bridge, which is the official crossing point between Ivory Coast and Liberia at Logatou, Nimba County, is yet to be rehabilitated since it collapsed in 2003.
The bridge in question was reportedly built in the 70s by LAMCO, an American-Swedish Mining Company operating in Yekepa, Nimba County. A Senior Collector, during the Charles Taylor regime allegedly destroyed the bridge to stop a local company from smuggling logs out of the country to La Cote d’Ivoire during the heat of the Liberian civil crisis.
Following the collapse of the bridge, the local communities on both sides of the border built an artisanal bridge, but such bridge cannot withstand the weight of even a light vehicle. As a result of this, traders and other travelers find it extremely difficult to easily commute from Liberia to Cote d’Ivoire in that part of the country.
Describing the situation as a ‘hell for cross-border trade’, our staff writer explained that in order to bring goods from La Cote d’Ivoire to Liberia, “you have to use humans as carriers to cross the border, thus increasing the cost of importation.”
Several business people, including the local people of both sides of the borders, who spoke to our staff writer, expressed frustration over the situation, stressing that it is seriously hampering cross-border trade and easy travel.
For us, we are seriously concerned about the frustration expressed by the business people and residents of both sides of the borders, regarding the difficulties they usually undergo in commuting from one point to another via the Lugatuo crossing point.
While we sincerely acknowledge some of the gains the Liberian government through the Ministry of Public Works is making in rehabilitating damaged bridges, roads and other infrastructure in the country, we think the Lugatuo crossing point certainly deserves attention, owing to its significance to our Country’s economic growth.
Prior to the collapse of the bridge, we are told, it was the busiest border crossing point. Liberian business people were not only using this border, but Ivoirians, Malians, Burkinabes, Togolese etc, etc, because it is the shortest way by road coming to Liberia from Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Mali, Togo and Ghana.
This is why we urging on the Liberian government, through the Public Works Ministry to include, if not mentioned, the Lugatuo crossing point on its list of damaged bridges across the country, earmarked for rehabilitation.
We are of the fervent belief that the rehabilitation of this major bridge will not only bring relief to the business people and residents of both sides of the border, but will also boost the economy and enhance smooth travel. It is our ardent hope that Liberian government through the Ministry of Public Works will give our call due consideration owing to the importance of this bridge.