Lofians threaten to boycott 2023 elections
By: Emmanuel wise Jipoh
Members of a Diaspora-Liberian group, ‘Lofa 2023 Project’ have threatened to boycott the pending elections if nothing is done about the terrible road condition in their county.
Speaking to the NEW DAWN from the United States on Sunday, August 28, the head of the group, Robert V. Sesay said the people of Lofa in the diaspora seek to collaborate with their kinsmen back home under the banner “Lofa 2023 Project” to create awareness on the importance of paved road connectivity in the county.
Lofa, which was once referred to as the “breadbasket” of Liberia seems to have lost that advantage due to lack of better roads to transport foods and cash crops from the county to the capital, Monrovia.
Since the cessation of civil wars and the inception of a civilian government in 2006 up to the current regime, Lofians’ dream of riding on asphalt pavement is but still a dream.
The Gbarnga-Menikoma road project launched by former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf along with current President George M. Weah then Senator of Montserrado county has delayed over the years.
The project intends to shame national leaders into taking positive action to pave the Gbarnga-Menikoma highway.
Delay in the project coupled with torrential rains in the county, has left citizens at the mercy of drivers, who hike transport fares at will. Movement in the county especially during the rainy season becomes very difficult, leaving huge amount of goods to damage while enroute to Monrovia.
During a recent tour of the project base in Bong County, Public Works Minister Ruth Cooker-Collins told reporters that all issues responsible for slowing the road project have been settled by the government.
Minister Collins said financial settlement of affected property owners that was stalling the project has now been addressed and all is now set to see progress on the road.
“The government has paid the money needed to settle those property owners along the road, so we are making all efforts to accelerate this road project,” she assured.
Notwithstanding, the debacle of the Lofa road will remain a campaign issue for the people of Lofa in the coming elections, perhaps a campaign to shame politicians who play on the ignorance of the citizenry.
In May 2021, a NEW DAWN’s investigation unraveled that the Lofa road project was delayed as a result of the Government of Liberia’s alleged failure to meet up with financial obligation through the Ministry of Finance for the implementation of the project.
Minister Ruth Collins, during confirmation hearing recently before the Liberian Senate, confirmed that the government has not met its full obligation to the project in the tone of US$1.3 million to resettle affected property owners along the road.
Because of this default, one of the four financiers of the project halted payment toward the Gbarnga-Salayea project, which played a major role in slowing the entire process, Minister Collins had earlier said when she appeared for confirmation hearing in June.
Bad roads are amongst infrastructural challenges Liberia faces, especially, rural Liberia during the rainy season when floods make movement of vehicles nearly impossible.
Commuters or vehicles plying highways leading to the interior are usually stocked in the mud and constrained to wait days or even weeks to allow the mud to dry before continuing their journey, which is affecting citizens in southeast and northwest Liberia, particularly vote-rich Lofa county.
As 2023 Presidential and General Elections draw close, the “Lofa 2023 Project”, a conglomeration of Lofians both at home and abroad are mobilizing their kinsmen to make road connectivity a key electoral issue. Editing by Jonathan Browne