Pretty dusty roads have since 1964 occasioned Voinjama City when the Tubman administration enacted a legislative instrument granting Lofa a County status. On account of our line of duty, we had the opportunity visit Voinjama City a number of occasions. Any mixed sentiments for not reaching Kolahum District to meet and celebrate with paternal in-laws? There is no point holding an apprehensions folks. Someday, we would be guests of Mansabolahum amid the fanfare as it were.
In succeeding years after Tubman, President William R. Tolbert’s Rally Time initiative put in place a sustainable program that saw the periodic maintenance of roads throughout the country. Even unpaved streets in county capitals were giving facelift to ensure free movement of goods and services for mainly agro-based rural dwellers. The quality of road maintenance informed the foundation of making Lofa County the breadbasket of the country. The Tolbert administration’s hindsight and ingenuity of setting up the Lofa County Agriculture Development Project, which was funded by the World Bank to stimulate agriculture productivity invigorated districts in Lofa particularly Foya District as cradle of massive agriculture activity.
What else do we want or better still need when indeed this nation already has the abundance of land characterized by fertility? We can grow enough for local consumption and export. What is preventing us from doing so? Is it about the paperwork, commitment, resources, or political will? The World Bank selected Bong, Lofa and Nimba – where the Agriculture Development Projects were concentrated and the dividends were quite extraordinary. We don’t necessarily have to reinvent the wheels but probably consider additives relevant to new techniques, methods and tools to enhance increased yields to meet obtaining and would-be demands.
The breaking news about the groundbreaking for 6.85km (4.25639mls) of paved roads in Voinjama City estimated at US$5 million United States Dollars could not have come as any surprise folks. Some of the dusty roads in the city will soon become a thing of the past. Thanks to the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) for the generous support in the tune of US$2 million while the Government of Liberia’s commitment to the project stands at US$3 million.
If mathematically manipulated, 6.85 kilometers of paved roads in Voinjama equate to 4.25639 miles (a stretch of road that measures up from Marshal Junction to – Caesar Beach Junction). What segment of the Voinjama road will evidently be paved. Surely, someone will argue that we are not engineers or surveyors and should be relegated to the business of feature writings. Granted we were not a party to any survey or assessment works in the first place – could the Ministry of Public Works give us an idea or an artist rendition of what we are to expect? Isn’t that a requirement after all?
Showy as it appeared the ideal moment to prove that Public Works Minister was in charged has come. His reflections took him back to historical antecedents as it were. Woods emerged from his cool and calm posture after the Monrovia hullabaloo about
The poor quality of some of our roads. He stuck to his guns – beating his chest that the A.B. Tolbert road heavily criticized by the President was not implemented on his watch. But he assured the Liberian people that he was prepared to make a break from the past. How it turns out is not a matter of guess work but only time will surely tell.
The aura of some degree of dustiness will go away for those within whose neighborhoods the pavement will eventually cover. Liberians have complained severally that Monrovia is not Liberia. They have challenged their leaders to create the socioeconomic firmament to ensure opportunities are extended throughout the country. In line, we can speak of Monrovia, Harper, Buchanan and Zwedru in terms of the layout as far as paved streets are concerned. The cities referred to remain insignificant when it comes to the totality of Liberia’s geography.
Commencing with Voinjama is seen as the beginning of relief folks as the sequence will gradually see other regional capitals brought into the mainstream of city limit connectivity. Good news indeed as we saw our be-smiling Public Works Minister in a broad smile. Yes, it was an auspicious moment for the Vice President to perform the groundbreaking ceremony on home soil. Perhaps he would have been happier had the ceremony been in Foya. But Foya is the county capital of Lofa that has started the ball rolling any way. Mind you, Joe Boakai is Vice president for all of Liberia and so it does not matter where he finds himself discharging a national obligation. Early this year, he was in Fish Town, River Gee County – where he dedicated the Fish Town – Harper newly rehabilitated road project.
The nation gladdens with the commencement of the Voinjama streets pavement project that has already seen its official groundbreaking. The people of Tubmanburg, Cestos City, Barclayville, Robertspot, Fish Town, etc. are anxiously looking forward to the day when their names would become imprinted into the history books. More than 160 years have gone by with little or nothing to show to the good people of this country. Are we ready to make a difference folks? The people demand answers, now.
Next door, the people of Gbarpolu County are still reeling from the trappings of a project that uncharacteristically became truncated for reasons unexplained folks. What was initially dubbed a landmark achievement has become a somewhat “white elephant project”. Until someone at the Ministry Public Works can tell the Liberian people what went wrong, we cannot hesitate to hold our breadth about what is going to happen next. Consternation has set in and we must do everything possible to give lasting hope to our people in Gbarpolu County.
As we all celebrate the news about Voinjama City – we want to urge the Lofa County Legislative Caucus to put their act together by setting up a team of consultants to closely monitor the project implementation and provide the necessary technical advisory. Nobody is doubting anyone (be it the consultants or the Ministry of Public Works) here folks. This is a project for the people of Lofa County and in order to ensure it reflects quality and embodies durability; the Caucus has to take ownership by making sure that the right things - technically necessary are followed and adhered in the best interest of the people and citizens. Harper and Zwedru cities are classic examples of getting the value for your money.
The people do not need to make any special appeal to their leaders. We call them leaders because they are clothed with the authority to inspire, become visionary, exercise leadership and demonstrate true stewardship. If this effort must be the beginning of new things to happen for the people of Lofa, the onus rests squarely on the shoulders of the sons and daughters of the largest county in Liberia to take ownership. By the time our minds are made up – we want to visit our in-laws in Kolahum District and drive on paved roads in the name of such solidarity. Can the leaders afford to fail their people? Only time will tell which side they intend to lean on as far as the progress, prosperity and development of the county is concerned.
Certainly, it is not about how much or the enormity of the funding but the determination and commitment of the government to prioritize a process that is expected to translate into tangible and meaningful dividends for the country and its citizenry. Today, it is Lofa, tomorrow the people of River Cess will be next in line. This is all part of the government’s social contract with its people. A government thrust on deeds would be hailed by the people than one vacillating vague rhetoric.