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Hard Cost of Transportation in Liberia

March 2015

This article focuses on the way most Liberians, especially those in Monrovia and its surroundings, suffer everyday to move from one point to another. In 2013 the Country had an estimated population at about 4.294 million people. Montserrado County which holds the Nation’s Capital- Monrovia- has a population around 1.3 million people. The road network of Liberia suggests that leaders in the past did not envision such accelerating grow in population, probably, so they did not formulate programs or laws that would mitigate the tensions Liberians are currently face with. The nation has been a strongly centralized state. All of her major activities are in the Monrovia, the Capital City. Though Liberia has counties as political subdivisions, these counties had since not been empowered to undertake projects or process documents independently. Except the Judicial system which has tried to decentralize some of it activities, everything is done in Monrovia. For instance, all of the government Ministries and Agencies, renounced schools, major commercial activities among others are based in Monrovia and it surroundings cities like Paynesville, Duala. As the result, people from the interior or the countryside come to Monrovia to get their basis need and services.

Afternoon traffic in Monrovia

 

This often makes the city overcrowded and movement exceedingly difficult for people in the city. Sometimes back under the current administration, the then city Mayoress, Madam Mary Broh, instituted an intensed and a vigorous exercise to reduce the population in Monrovia. With the blessing of President Sirleaf, Madam Broh broke down plenty mischief structures housing cross-section of common Liberians; some of these people came to Monrovia during the civil crisis, some for education purpose and some for criminal behaviors to survive. But this exercise did not reduce the population anyway. So, General Broh, as she was popularly called during her demolition exercises, designed a strategy for the first Saturday, from 6am to 10am, of each month as general cleaning day in Monrovia and its environs. Many people refer to the cleaning day as ‘Mary Broh’s day’; besides, she also created the Monrovia City Parking lot system to avoid unnecessary parkings of vehicles in the city. A fee of L$ 50 is charged per hour for a car parked in any of the slots. All of these methods were meant to decongest the city and have it clean, but the city continues to become overcrowded; thus, making it difficult for people to move from one to another easily by vehicles.

Passengers tired awaiting cars on 9th street in Monrovia

Everybody in Monrovia and its environs has to play the smart game somehow to be on time. Those with vehicles worry about traffic congestion while people without cars also worry of finding cars to get them on time to their destinations. Both cases are worrisome! Isn’t it? So, as early as 4am everyday people are preparing to hit the road for cars and escape the usual huge traffic congestion. Those without cars faced the greater challenge, anyway. Most of them often spent three to four hours in search of cars. Some of them get discourage at time and go back home to prepare for the next day, while others will forcibly fight to make their ways to go. This is frustrating! Many times people cloths often get dirty especially during the rainy season and sometime others get wounded in the process. At this time, most commercial and some private car drivers disregard government regulations. These drivers overcharge passengers while others take passenger above the normal seating capacities of their cars. Interestingly, when finding cars is exceedingly difficult, some passengers asked the drivers to overload the cars.  What to do? One definitely has to consider the embarrassment to go in pain or charter a car to avoid it. Anyway, this has now become a normal routine for people in Liberia. It is generally called “RUSH HOURS”

This condition drew the attention of the Indian government to donate some buses to the Liberia government as a mean of public transportation. These buses are managed by the National Transport Authority (NTA), but more need to be done by the Liberia government to get plenty of such buses to alleviate the suffering and keep in place the Ebola awareness of not toughing each others because the few public transport buses on ground cannot control the problems. As schools have reopened, though ebola has not yet left Liberia, it is also good for other friendly nations to join the efforts of the Indian government to help Liberia with more buses for public transportation. The Liberians and others in Liberian, I believe, will definitely appreciate the gestures especially during this time of  their fight against Ebola.