February 28, 2024

Major Bridge In Clay-Ashland Cut-Off – Posing Economic Hardship To Residents

Residents of Clay-Ashland are said to be currently living in extreme hardship and difficulties due to the complete cut-off of the 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. 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 been damaged.

Using these alternative routes now will take four times the normal time it takes to use the normal route to access the Township of Virginal and other places.

The bridge has been lying in ruins and in 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 one of the isolated areas in electoral district #17 in Montserrado County. The damaged bridge links Clay-Ashland 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 raised alarm 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 LRD$ 80.00 while a gallon of gasoline costs remains huge. Most of the residents mostly women are engaged in agriculture activities to support their families and transport those produce from Clay-Ashland to Iron Gate Township of Virginia for sale.

In a telephone conversation (Interview) with this Reports231 on July 11, 2022, Mayor Mr. Morris G. Richard, City Mayor of Clat-Island 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, in the morning time due to the heavy downpours of rain, he said he has instituted and organized a committee that is working on constructing a temporary plank bridge to enable them 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 and 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 times about the refusal of the company to start the work but the Ministry has not taken action against the company

It was reported that the Liberian government under Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf initially paid USD$45,000.00 for the bridge’s construction.

Clay-Ashland broken Bridge

He noted that they are expected to complete the construction of a temporary plan which was disclosed on July 11, 2022, stating that since 2018 when the bridge got damaged they informed the government, and prior to their communication with the government one person also died as a result of the damaged bridge something he did not want to happen.

“We have the 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 such difficulties because Public Work and Future Builder, the company that brought the iron and placed it in the area, only filled up the bridge and left, wasting all resources. The Mayor added that he and his leadership have to find another way to make the community’s residents happy, but their efforts are bearing no fruit because the issue is still serious.

He admitted to reporting the company several times to the government through the Ministry of Public Work which he claimed is doing nothing to build the bridge. Mr. Richard said, he has informed by Public Work that the government gave Future Builder construction Company USD$45,000.00 to construct the bridge but the company did not construct anything but rather cleared 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, 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 contractors which we are awaiting action against them’’, according to Mayor Richard.

Meanwhile, this news network when contacted the Ministry of Public Work for one week plus about the claims made by Mayor Morris G. Richard that USD$45,000.00 was given to Future Builder Company, the ministry did not deny the allegation nor agree to the claim but said they are working on the bridge.

Reported by: Stephen G. Fellajuah
WhatsApp: +231777015294
Email: fellajuahstepheng@gmail.com

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