The scene was festive. The people were jubilant. Never in the past have they seen such level of “talk-and-do” action. A long yearned dream is surely on the horizon for the people of Doe Community who appeared to have been abandoned for about three decades now.
“From since in the 80s, we don’t have good road in our community. Only Jorweah [George Weah’s] Government has done this for us”, an ecstatic old man was heard saying “My dreams has come to past. So if even the world end today, I will just be fine. It is a life touching intervention. I mean to say, I am overwhelmed with joy to see the Doe Community Road in such a condition”.
Like the old man, Doe Community residents were witnessing a transformative moment and a realization of a life-long dream on Saturday, July 28, 2018 when President George MannehWeah led a team of Government officials on an inspection exercise of ongoing rehabilitation of a 2.7km road in Doe Community that will finally be paved with asphalt and will have appropriate drainage structures in place.
Just after three months after his inauguration, President Weah visited the shantytown Community and promised not just the rehabilitation, but pavement of the full stretch of the 2.7km of road leading into the community and also connecting the community to Clara town. The pavement of the road and installation of appropriate drainage structures will now may history Doe Community resident’ biggest nightmare of being literally being isolated during the raining season. During these periods,vehicles do not enter Doe Community! Residents must tote their belonging on their heads and wade through dirty and filthy waters and mud to reach to their homes. President Weah promised this would stop under his administration!
No wonder why overly joyful residents of the Community trooped in their numbers on Saturday to welcome the President and his officials. They were heard showering praises on the “Pro Poor” Government for listening to what they claimed had been their cry for over 30 years…roads, better roads!
Doe Community is name after slain Liberian President Samuel K. Doe. It is among communities with protracted history of bad road since its establishment in the early 80s. The slum community is home to over ten thousand low income earners most of whom live below $1USD a day. Several development reports have featured the community as being very poor and lacking basic social services required for people of modern age.
Residents of the community decried what they termed as abandonment by the State, lamenting that, accessing the Somalia Drive from within the community, on a daily basis from their various homes has been a major challenge to them for the last several three to four decades.
“We have to roll up our trousers and or wear rain booths, holding our shoes and sneakers in our hands so as to enable us get on the main road”, some residents narrate to this reporter.
There has been varying accounts of their dream for good roads in the Doe Community area. One account has it that some three years ago, the people of Doe Communitycollected money as household contributions and presented same to the Government of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, through the Ministry of Public Works with the hope that this self-help gesture would serve as a motivation for the Government to prioritize build their road.
“We are told that the already suffering masses of this community collected money and took it Public Works and say, government, we are not only relying on you, but we have to support you,” current Public Works Minister Mobutu Nyenpan said on May 5, 2018 when he officially declared the commencement of rehabilitation of the Doe Community road.
A new headline of the infamous story of bad road in the Doe’s Community has begun to be written, and it all happened when, in May of this year, President George M. Weah ordered the commencement of work on the 2.7km road.“Beginning Monday, May 7, 2018, you all will see yellow machines in different categories and sizes pounding on the soft black soil as a fresh start of rehabilitation work on your road”, Mobutu Nyenpan enthusiastically told residents of the community during a town hall meeting on May 5, 2018.
The intervention in Doe Community did not come as a surprise to many. Under this Pro Poor Government, President George Weah is on record for saying that his government will touch the lives of the poor, and that, this will be realized not in the eloquence of his speeches but in the activities and action he will execute. Doe Community is witnessing and feeling this reality.
Indeed in less than 7 months, residents of Doe Community have seen what they have long yearned for. Their struggle for better life has begun with the upgrading of their road to asphalt pavement trigged by the government they so much cherished, thus bringing to an imminent end 30 years of road nightmare.
Our move in Doe’s Community is a symbolic demonstration of what the CDC government intends to do in most of the communities in Monrovia”, Public Works Minister Mobutu Nyenpan disclosed.
During the inspection, residents of the community presented certificate of appreciation to the President for responding to their call for better road. Several residents speaking to the press expressed happiness over the road project, terming it as real human interest intervention by the government and the contractor.
Madam Maraya Abu is a Chairlady of Doe Community Women Association (DCWA). She told the press that the she is overwhelmed about the level of progress being made by the contractor, adding, where they are now clearly signals that, indeed, they have a good government.”
“To see Doe Community road at this level means we have a good government that cares about us”, Madam Abu noted.
The fearless talking Chairlady accused past governments of neglecting their plight, nothing that 6 months of Weah’s Presidency suggests something different for the poor people.
As part of community service, Madam Maraya Abu said she organized the community women to help clean the drainage and carry out other petty functions as a way of augmenting the strength and skills of the contractor on a volunteer basis.
The Doe Community Women leader extended special thanks and appreciation to President Weah for rehabilitating their road, and prayed that Gog grants him the wisdom to do more.
She recalled how they will no more take off their shoes to walk to the main road (Somalia Drive) in order to get to their respective places of work.
For his part, a Tailor, Mohamed Kamara, said the road construction has brought complete relief to them. According to him, the upgrading of the road has minimized the spread of mosquitoes in houses that are alongside the road corridor.
“I never used to sit outside to work, but now I can sit outside to do my work without fearing mosquitoes”, Kamara said. The story of bad road in Doe Community is now really changing from infamous to famous with several residents witnessing the “hope for change” for the once disenchanted community.
“Our dream of smooth passage and reaching out to our next door neighbors across the main street with ease has finally come to light. No more mosquitoes, no more dust and no more constant repair of our undercarriages”, several residents where heard expressing joy.
“Surely indeed, the Pro Poor Agenda is on course and the SSF Construction Company is here to fill in the gap where it is needed most”, a staff of the company hinted
The SSF Collabo
It is worth mentioning that President’s Weah’s initiative in Doe Community, through the Ministry of Public Works is being executed by a renowned road infrastructure construction firm named SSF Entrepreneur, Inc.. SSF stands out as one of the local companies under the Public Private Partnership Agreement (PPP) working to ensure that government’s development efforts are buttressed despite the economic meltdown.
SSF has over the years being a formidable partner to the Government in the delivery of it road infrastructure agenda. The local Liberia company has, at its own risks responded to Government’s call for urgent intervention in its road sector by pre-financing actions when government’s finances are overstretched. The intervention on the Doe Community road is in the same spirit of genuine partnership with the Government through the Ministry of Public Works.
The company is today, under the pro poor government demonstrating that love for country and its people. In less than 3 months and during the peak of the rainy season, SSF took the challenge and committed itself to work around the clock to meet the President’s mandate. Its actions and commitment under a special arrangement, the company has put smile on the faces of residents of Doe Community with the full rehabilitation/upgrading of their road.
The rehabilitation, which sees the construction of drainage and a roundabout or square, is part of government’s urban renewal initiatives aimed at bringing dignity to slum communities.
Although SSF is doing everything possible to complete the work in time, President George M. Weah, too, has been making sure he puts pressure on the company. That is why on Saturday, July 28, 2018, the President led his team of government officials on an inspection exercise of progress made so far on the road project.
SSF has been working alongside government for over 10 yearsin the road infrastructure sector. For instance, the company won the bid to rehabilitate the Zorzor-Voinjama-Mendikorma road in 2011. At the same time, the company ventured into the mountainous area of Vahun, which was cut off from the rest of Liberia for more than 10 years.
SSF further rehabilitated the River Gee bridge-Harper road under the ADB sponsored project, which was cut off from the rest of the country for more than a decade. By then, citizens of the Southeast used canoes or boats to travel to Monrovia and back to the Southeast. At the same, the company rehabilitated the Pleebo-Barclayville corridor under the World Bank sponsorship and the Kanweakan bypass to Barclayville under government of Liberia road initiative.
Like the people of Vahun, the people of Southeast traded almost everything in neighboring Ivory Coast prior to intervention.
Among others, the SSF Construction Company is credited for paving the Parker Paint-Newzoe Road, Duport Road-Soul Clinic and overlaying and rehabilitating the streets in Sinkor and AB Tolbert to Duport Road.
At part of ongoing contracts, the company is at the completion point of Marshall road and several neighborhood roads including Doe Community. An insider of the company disclosed that the Marshall road faced some technical problem, which caused it delay. According to the Company, the technical issue has now being resolved by the current government, and the road will be completed in 2019.
The company normally works with the people in areas it work, thereby providing short-term employment opportunities for especially young people. Via this, these young people gain skills and at some points employment opportunities.
Meanwhile, the people of Doe Community keep beaming and can’t stop praising President Weah’s “talk-and-do” attributes and SSF’s collaboration that will shortly end 30 years of being “behind the line”. Yes, history is being made!
Holding everything constant, it is safe to say that President Weah’s dream to pave all feeder roads in Monrovia, especially in the “pro poor’ communities will certainly be realized with the presence of capable local construction companies like what is unfolding in the Doe Community.
Written by Paul M. Kanneh