Residents of Clay-Ashland are said to be currently living in extreme hardship and difficulties due to complete cut-off of bridge and bad road conditions which they said is impeding normal economic activities and accessibility of neighboring townships in that part of Montserrado County.
During the early morning of July 10, 2022, residents of Clay-Ashland again awakened to the sad news that the only economic activities bridge and easy route connecting the isolated Island to the Township of Virginal, Arthington, and Millsburg was finally cut off due to the heavy downpours of rain in recent time.
The situation has led two other sisterly settlements, Arthington, Millsburg challenged likewise. The only existing alternative routes to getting out of Clay-Ashland are through Mullton Corner via a place called Kubon shop.on average, it is a 20-minute’ drive from Clay-Ashland to Iron Gate using the route of the bridge which has damaged.
But, using these alternative routes now will take four times the normal or usual time takes using the normal route to access the Township of Virginal and other places.
The bridge has been lying in ruins and a dilapidated state since the government of Liberia through the Ministry of Public Work signed with Future Builder construction Company an agreement for the construction of the bridge.
The government of Liberia through the Ministry of Public Work on March 13, 2020, represented by then Minister of Public Work Mobutu Vlah Nyenpan and the Future Builder and Investment Company, a company licensed and authorized to undertake construction works in Liberia through its Chief Executive officer Mr. Othello Thompson CEO/general manager signed an agreement for the construction of Clay-Ashland bridge of 55ff. The project is implemented through the National Road Fun of Liberia.
This Island is considered as one of the isolated areas in electoral district #17 Montserrado County. The damaged bridge links Clay-Ashland and to the commercial township of Virginia.
School children are reportedly finding it difficult to commute to-and-fro their respective school campuses as a result of the collapsed bridge and deplorable road conditions.
Marketers have also been alarmed about the difficulties they faced with transporting their produce to the market as prices of basic commodities including rice and gasoline continue to be skyrocketed. A cup of rice is now reportedly sold for L$ 80 while a gallon of gasoline coast remains huge. Most of the residents mostly mothers and women are engaged into agriculture activities to support their families and transport those produce from Clay-Ashland to Iron Gate Township of Virginia for sale. Mr. Morris G. Richard City Mayor Clays- Island.
In a telephone conversation (Interview) with this platform July 11, 2022, Mayor Mr. Morris G. Richard expressed sadness and dismay over the complete cut-off of the only bridge linking them to the commercial Township of Virginia and other surrounding settlements.
According to him, the bridge finally broke down on July 10, 2022 at morning time due to the heavy downpours of rain which he said he has instituted and organized a committee that is working on constructing a temporary plank bridge to enable them to do their businesses and for children to go to school.
‘’My brother, in 2018 we cried on the government to help us construct the bridge after the bridge was in bad condition before it collapsed.
In 2020, the government agreed and contacted Future Builder construction Company to build the bridge which the company came in with their material and laid an iron over the area we were using to commute.
Since the company took their equipment to the construction site the bridge has not been constructed and the conditions are still here. We just being managing because what they put there could not help us until today it’s finally cut-off’’ Mayor Richard lamented.
According to the Major they have informed the Ministry of Public Work several time about the refusal of the company to start the work but the Ministry have not taken action against the company
It was reported that the Liberian government under Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf initially paid US$45 thousand for the construction of the bridge.
He noted that they are expected to complete the construction of a temporary which plan was disclosed July 11, 2022, stating that since 2018 when the bridge got damaged they informed the government and prior to their communication with government one person also died as a result of the damaged bridge something he did not want to happen.
“We have bridge at this place that was helping but in 2018 the bridge got damaged and cut because it was old and overstayed despite all the strategies we use to manage it. The government after crying on them severally when one person died, Public Work came and brought iron and lay it over the place and that is what we have been using but since they drop it, the government refused to fix the bridge properly until today it has finally cut and we have no means to move around.”
He noted that it is painful for them to go through this because Public Work and Future Builder the company that carried the iron and place it to the area they only filled up the bridge and left and all that money got spoiled and he and his leadership have to find an alternative to bring happiness to residents of the community but it is yearning no fruit as the matter remains major.
He argued of reporting the company several times to the governmnet through the Ministry of Public Work who he claimed is doing nothing to build the bridge and said Public Work told him that it gave US$45 to construct the bridge but the company did not construct anything rather clear the place, bring equipment in the container and walk away and so we have been suffering.
“We have set up the committee on security and the bridge and hopefully we will finish with it tomorrow. But, this is really shameful and embarrassing to us because we are not happy with no way for us to move. We want the Ministry of Public Work to take action against the Company for eating our bridge money and refusing to do the work. The last meeting I have with Minister Ruth Collins was behind Atlantic Insurance Company and reported the contractor which we are awaiting action against them’’, according to Mayor Richard.
Meanwhile, this news platform is yet to verify the claims made by Mayor Morris G. Richard that US$ 45 thousand was given to Future Builder Company by any means through the Ministry of Public Work in accordance with the agreement signed between the both institutions for the construction of the Clay-Ashland Bridge which is now at the point of emergency.
By: Stephen G. Fellajuah