Roads linking Gbapolu County to Monrovia and Lofa County are near impassable this rainy season due to the rut of lorries by a logging company known as BOGECO and the scrap dealer firm, VOTRACO, making the county inaccessible to residents visitors.
Transportation fares for basic commodities including rice, petroleum products, cooking oil have skyrocketed due to scarcity of commuter vehicles courageous enough to venture the deplorable roads.
Therefore, vehicle owners who brave the dilapidated roads are now exploiting the situation by heavily charging passengers and their loads.
“My man, what do you expect us to do? Yes, we are charging high because the road is not good. We stay hours on the road paying people to push our jeeps; so what do you expect…we have to overcharge. If you cannot go, you stay,” one commercial driver told New Democrat Saturday in Duala, Bushrod Island said.
Heavily built logging trucks plying the roads bear foreign license plates while their operators speak French with accents of Ivorian dialects, an angry Gbarpolu resident told this paper Saturday.
“These people are just after the money but don’t care about fixing the roads,” remarked one passenger while boarding a jeep headed for Gbarpolu to the county.
Eyewitnesses have expressed fears that if the situation is left unaddressed, the road connecting Gbarpolu County with Lofa County will soon be cut.
Residents of the county as well as leaders of the Federation of Road Transport Union of Liberia in the county have described the situation as alarming, and appealed to government for intervention.
Worst of all, several bridges linking the surrounding villages are damaged, making road networks impassible for farmers to easily sell their produce at nearby markets.
“All our farm products are spoiling every day because we cannot get to Bopolu to sell them,” elderly farmer Momo complained from Gbarpolu to this reporter in a telephone conversation.
Due to the deplorable road condition, transportation fare for a four-hour ride between Bopolu and Henry Town which formerly cost L$500 is now L$1800, according to Ansu S. M. Sherif, deputy secretary general of the FRTUL.
He said at least five vehicles get stuck on the road daily and locals charge L$1500 to L$2000 to remove each stuck vehicle.