YARPLEAH TOWN, River Cess – The government has finally begun the process of replacing the aging and damaged Timbo River Bridge.
Napoleon Davis, a supervisor with Jupiter Construction, told The Bush Chicken that the Liberian government, through the Ministry of Public Works, has contracted his company to do the reconstruction of the bridge.
Davis said the project was approved under the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s administration, but was delayed due to the elections.
“This project is for three months, that is, from April to June,” Davis said. “The first two months, we will recondition the piers beneath the bridge, and in June, we will demolish the bridge to assemble the new one.”
The Timbo River forms the boundary between River Cess and Grand Bassa and connects southeast Liberia to the rest of the country.
Davis said beginning June 3, the bridge will be declared closed and there will be no alternative route when the new bridge is being assembled.
That means commuters travelling between Grand Bassa, River Cess, and beyond will either use a route through Upper River Cess or go through Grand Gedeh route.
“We told the government about [having an] alternative route,” Davis said. “But the government said that it will cost nothing less than US$100,000, and there is no money for that. So, there is no alternative route.”
When completed, Davis said the new bridge will be capable of holding 80 tons of weight and it will last for 100 years.
“The new bridge is an American army designed one, which is more durable and guaranteed,” Davis said. “The Americans themselves will come to assemble it.”
Parts of the bridge recently collapsed in June 2017, cutting off that route to the southeast and raising prices of goods such as rice by 40 percent. The Ministry of Public Works eventually repaired the bridge, with assistance from companies operating in River Cess, but the bridge is long overdue for a replacement.
The 2017 damage was the third time in six years. During the voter registration exercise of 2011, the bridge collapsed, and one person died while several were wounded. Two years later, the bridge collapsed again, leaving no casualties.
Constructed in 1972, the bridge is now rusty and most of its steel plates are disconnected from the beams. Bolts and nuts holding the braces of the bridge have all fallen off and one can see the braces hanging from under the bridge.
Featured photo by Eric Opa Doue