MONROVIA – Only few things first introduce any nation to visitors and give citizens some pride for country. One of such is the country’s international airport, and in the case of many countries, the highway that links the airport to the capital city. That is the first impression tourists and long-absent citizens get for the infrastructural outlook of the country. Sadly, and for the last seven decades of Liberia’s independence, both our airport infrastructure and the road to the capital have been a source of frowns, groans and shame. This is in addition to the fatalities and tears that the stretch of terribly disgraceful road, which eluded dozens of leaders before now, has left behind. But it seems history is being made again. And President George Weah is the engine of the history. It was only yesterday, nearly 80 years following the construction of the airport, that the current president dedicated the superhighway project connecting the country’s only international airport to the seat of power, Monrovia. The Analyst reports.
Unification City in Margibi County was today the scene of jubilation and flowery speeches. Citizens within the vicinity of the City, troops of supporters from nearly villages and from Monrovia, had all reasons to celebrate. The 172-year-old country’s airport highway was just being open for reconstruction in big style.
The 45-kilometer road is notorious for endless costly traffic accidents and a subject of public discussion for being very narrow, winding and nauseating for its status as a airport infrastructure connecting to the seat of the nation’s capital.
But all notorious things and people have their antidote. Two years ago, the people elected a President who does not pass by bad road without making it better. The examples are replete across the country. For this reason, he’s popularly nicknamed “Bad Road Medicine”—an appellation that comes from his uncompromising focus on paved road construction.
Yesterday, February 20, 2020, the Bad Road Medicine took his remedy to the Roberts International Airport highway, breaking grounds for immediate construction into a superhighway.
“Today is an historic day,” the President said in a short statement essentially drowned in deafening applauses. “It is a day like no other in the history of our country. Because, for the very first time since our founding more than 170 years ago, we are here to break ground for the first modern four-lane highway in Liberia.”
Yes, it is true that since President George Manneh Weah came to office, and for two years, he and his administration continue to break grounds, complete paved roads in Monrovia and its environs—many kilometers of new roads within various communities that have suffered from the terrible conditions of living with unpaved roads.
There was as dust in the dry season and mud in the rainy season, and the President acknowledged that “These modest efforts have brought about a massive improvement in the quality of life in these communities, and we will continue with this program until all major community roads are paved.”
The President reflected: “You will recall that in my State of the Nation Address to the Joint Session of the Legislature on January 28 this year, less than a month ago, I informed that August Body of the challenging state of the road leading from Roberts International Airport to Monrovia. I then informed the Legislature that my Government was in the final stages of concluding financial and technical arrangements for the expansion and pavement of a Forty-five (45 km) kilometers four-lane highway from the RIA to ELWA Junction, complete with appropriate safety and lighting facilities.”
Barely three (3) weeks since my SONA address, citizens and officials of Government gathered in the words of the President, “before God and Man, to ceremonially break ground for the expansion and reconstruction of the Roberts International Airport Highway.”
“This is a great moment for me and my Government, and for the Liberian people as a whole, for I strongly believe that the improvement of the RIA Highway is a project of tremendous national significance,” President Weah stressed, alluding to the fact that “together with the new terminal at the airport, present the first impressions of our country to those traveling to Liberia through the airport.”
“Secondly,” he said, “this is a project that is long overdue because of the safety hazards presented by its narrowness and darkness. The RIA Highway has been a death-trap since it was built in the 1940’s, during World War Two. In the 70 years of its existence, it has claimed the lives of thousands of unfortunate passengers, both Liberians and foreigners alike.”
President Weah intoned that it is the most convenient route for the movement of people, goods, and services to and from six of our fifteen counties, namely: Margibi, Grand Bassa, Rivercess, Sinoe, Grand Kru, and Maryland. Additionally, some of these counties are hosts to several multinational corporations such as Firestone, and Golden Veroleoum.
He also used the occasion to remind the public that road connectivity is a core pillar of his administration, “and it is the fulcrum of the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development. Since my incumbency, we have broken grounds for many infrastructural projects throughout Liberia, and some of these projects have already been completed and dedicated.”
A review of records will show clearly that wherever his administration broke grounds for any project, that project is either completed or is ongoing according to its schedule.
“By the Grace of God, the RIA Highway Project will be no exception,” the Chief Executive averred, adding: “I want you to know that our infrastructural development programs have the strong support of our international development partners. We appreciate this support, and hereby assure them of our commitment to utilizing resources put at our disposal for the intended purposes.”
He called on all our citizens and those within our borders to take very good care of our road assets and all public infrastructures, because the sustainability of these assets depend on proper care and good maintenance.
He said further: “I also would like to commend the Minister of Public Works and his hard-working team for making us proud over the first two years of our Administration. We know that the circumstances are challenging, and that the demands supercede available resources, but you have stood the test of time. We therefore encourage you to continue your hard work, in the interest of the Liberian people.”
He made some light moments at the historic ceremonies. He said: “For example, during my campaign, before you voted me to victory, you named me COUNTRY GIANT. After I came to office, and began to deliver on some of my promised projects, you named me TALK AND DO. For my support for women’s empowerment and the protection of girls and women, I was named FEMINIST-IN-CHIEF. But now there is a new one which I recently heard, and which I would like to share with you now, because I think that it is very relevant to this occasion. They now call me BAD ROAD MEDICINE. I am very proud of this new title, which depicts me as the antidote to bad roads, and I will do my very best during the rest of my tenure to deserve it.”
President Weah declared: “Now therefore, today, in my new role as BAD ROAD MEDICINE, I wish to sound a clarion CALL TO ACTION, for the commencement of works for the expansion and reconstruction of the road corridor between RIA and ELWA Junction as a modern four-lane highway.”