BUCHANAN, Grand Bassa – After heavy rains in July caused the collapse of a bridge that leads to the Grand Bassa Community College’s campus, the school is now planning to launch a US$1.5 million campaign to rebuild the bridge.
The bridge’s collapse forced the college to relocate its activities to the Bassa High School Campus on Tubman Street in Buchanan.
After the bridge’s collapse, the college invited an engineer to evaluate its options. The engineer gave three recommendations: reconditioning the back road linking the Buchanan-Monrovia highway to the college at the cost of US$300,000, purchasing a US$15,000 ferry to regularly transport individuals at the location of the bridge, or rebuilding the collapsed bridge for US$1.5 million.
Octavian Ben, the acting chairman of the college’s staff association, said the fundraising campaign intends to raise the US$1.5 million needed to rebuild the bridge. Ben also said the other alternatives might be implemented to allow the college to resume academic activities by September. He noted that the bridge and the ferry were the options being most seriously considered, as the back road would likely require additional funding for vehicles.
Ben noted that using the back road would be cost intensive for students, faculty, and staff due to the distance. The college only has one bus, and that may not be enough to regularly transport students and staff to the campus.
The leader of the staff association said committees had already been set up to engage the public about the importance of raising the funds. He expressed optimism that the necessary amount would be raised, given the key role the college plays in building the capacity of the youth.
“If each and every one of us, as residents of Bassa, could just give at least a dollar to GBCC, it is nothing difficult, we can raise that money,” he said. “Even though we will go to [the] government, but we want to start our own initiative. Whatever we can generate from this process, then [the] government can augment it, but if we get 100 percent, no problem because our target is to get 100 percent of that US$1.5 million or above.”
For now, Ben said the college had already contacted a local ferry builder to construct a vessel that can transport up to 150 persons at a time. He warned that if nothing is done to find an alternative for staff and students to access the campus, academic activities will come to a standstill because Bassa High School will resume its activities in September.
“It is affecting us because our welfare and livelihood have been threatened, GBCC is where we get our living from,” he added. “It is so unfortunate that the bridge has collapsed so we can’t sit back, so this is why we will be launching the Save GBCC One Dollar Campaign to ensure that we get back on campus.”
Ben said the superintendent of Grand Bassa, Janjay Baikpeh, and others prominent citizens have been contacted about attending the launch of the campaign, although he did not detail when that would take place.
He also called on President George M. Weah, corporate entities, humanitarians, and international partners to come to the aid of the college.
The collapsed bridge was built in the 1960s by LAMCO, a mining company that operated in the country, to access its washing plant across the Benson River in the Painburry community where the college is currently located. Since then, there has been no major maintenance work done to the bridge although a minor US$10,000 repair was carried out by the county leadership recently.
Featured photo by Sampson David