By Reuben Bier In Grand Bassa County
BUCHANAN-The Government of Liberia and its partners have opened the St. John River Bridge to the public after intensive renovation work in the past few days.
In recent times, vehicles and citizens were prevented from plying the St. John River Bridge that connects Grand Bassa County, Margibi, Sinoe, Rivercess, Montserrado, and other parts of the County as a result.
The decision by the Ministry of Public Works to close the bridge was a result of the deplorable condition of the bridge which was recently noticed.
The St. John River is one of the six major rivers in Liberia that originates from Guinea, along the Nimba Range, and runs through Grand Bassa County with a total length of 282 kilometers.
The situation created panic amongst citizens in the county as prices of basic commodities were skyrocketing just in few days after the incident and business people attributed it to the condition of the bridge.
The limitation was placed on heavy duties vehicles that usually transport huge quantities of goods and services to the citizens of Bassa and other surrounding Counties.
Upon hearing the situation and the emergency need that arise, the Ministry of Public Works in partnership with companies operating in the Grand Bassa County promptly intervened and temporally rehabilitated the bridge which has given free flow of movement for citizens and vehicles.
The rehabilitation works were carried out by the Liberia Agriculture Company (LAC), Equatorial Palm Oil (EPO), ArcelorMittal Liberia (AML), and the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Public Works.
However, Arcelor-Mittal-Liberia is the lead supporter of the renovation works on the bridge. It is providing the required logistics and technical equipment needed to safely complete the rehabilitation of the bridge.
These include 200 tons of hydraulic jacks, steel plates, supply of rubber membranes, a 10KVA generator, provision of truck, elephant feet support, cranes, compactor, fuel, and manpower amongst other equipment and supplies.
ArcelorMittal is also covering the cost of hotel accommodations and feeding for a five-man technical team from the Ministry of Public Works for the duration of the St. John River Bridge rehabilitation work.
AML Spokesperson, Winston Daryoue, said AML as a longtime partner of the Grand Bassa and the Liberian people is happy to be providing the support of technical and logistical services.
He mentioned that the AML CEO, Joseph Coenen, has instructed the AML technical team to give maximum support and to remain engaged until the completion of repairs.
Meanwhile, the current work is not the full rehabilitation of the damaged bridge. It is a temporary process to enable the movement of citizens and vehicles before the actual renovation.
According to the technical team from the Ministry of Public Works, the assessment carried on revealed that the bearings that caused the damage have to be hired and brought to the country before the full renovation; something they said is time-consuming.