By: Alphonso Abu Bonar

Monrovia-Jan-15-TNR: Residents of Wartehken and Gbolobo Nimeken towns expressed frustrations over the delay over the construction of a US$35,000 bridge project linking the two towns around the Cavalla River in Maryland County.

According to the aggrieved residents of both towns, the construction of the bridge started in 2021, when the statutory superintendent of the District, Aloysius Williams, broke ground for the construction of the bridge.

Since then, the residents said, there has been no sign of completing the bridge. The residents said that as it stands, they cannot tell what has hindered the completion of the project, despite funds being available to support the project to finish.

They said although, doing the grand breaking ceremony of the bridge, the two towns argued that the specified location to construct the bridge was not suitable, however, the local authority insisted that the place was relocated during the county council sitting in December 2019.

On his part, Mr. Saturday, Dennis, General Town chief of Wartehken on January 9, 2024, told a team of reporters that the delay in completing the Bridge has created a serious setback for citizens in the towns.

“This has created a serious setback for school-going kids of both towns, thereby leaving them with no option but to travel long distances to attend schools,” he explained.

According to Mr. Saturday, Dannis, residents of Wartehkensaid they are finding it very difficult during the rainy season to access good healthcare delivery services because the only health facility is in Nimeken.

Chief Dennis has expressed serious concern as to whether the bridge construction will be completed because the Cavalla River banks sometimes overflow, and it is causing erosion to break the side wall of the bridge.

He continues that residents of Wartehken  and GboloboNimeken thought the bridge construction would have brought great relief, but as it stands, the town’s residents are left as to whether the bridge will be completed or not

“We are suffering because our children are not in school and we cannot go to the clinic for health services during the rainy season”, Chief Saturday Dennis added.

Mark Cooper of Gbolobo Nimeken has called on the local authority to fast-track the completion of the bridge and said anything outside of completing the USD 35,000 (Thirty-five thousand United States dollars) bridge project will not be accepted by the towns. He said it has been alleged that the county authorities have constructed a culvert instead of a proper bridge.

“The designated area for the bridge construction is not good for a culvert; but only a bridge can go there, due to its close proximity to the Cavalla River,” youth leader Mark Cooper noted.

Cooper further said that the current temporary traditional bridge is the only one they used to enable them to access the next towns, but currently in poor condition.

“It poses a serious threat to kids of both towns during the rainy season while crossing on the bridge, as the river gets over flooded,” he disclosed.

Moreover, the head of the women’s groups in the towns said that the local authorities of the district are not fair and lack accountability and transparency.

She said during the time of the bridge construction, the women informed the engineers about the situation of the bridge including the substandard materials that they were using but were told to remain quiet because they were not engineers.

“Let  me say, before the bridge construction started, we inform the local authorities and the engineers about the materials used but they say we were not engineers, see what is happening to our USD $ 35, 000  

“So they are joking. That bridge does not even worth USD $ 5,000 before 35K. She, however, called on the national government to come to the aid of the towns.

Meanwhile, the Maryland County Project Management Committee (PMC) chairman, Lawrence Kyne, said that given the fact that the bridge project has been delayed, the citizens have all right to know what has caused the delay.

According to him, the delay in the project was based on the criteria set by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning. He said that for a project to be awarded to any contractor, the contractor must be able to pre-finance the project for about 30 – 60% cash.

“The bridge construction project was in 2021 awarded to Sammy Group of Company.

Nevertheless, this paper has tried contacting the Sammy group of companies, but all efforts applied seem fruitless.

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