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‘We will no more clap for politicians’

By S. Momodu

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Vehicles stuck in the mud at Fairo near the border with Liberia

Clearly frustrated that the international highway from Bo/Kenema to the border with Liberia has become very deplorable, residents along the road have now decided to stop doing what most politicians love to hear – clap.

“We will no more clap for politicians. Most of them are noisemakers,” said an angry resident of Fairo, near the border, as indignant commuters chorused: “Yes, we will no more clap for politicians”. The sentiment is expressed in most towns and villages along the less than 100 miles from either Bo or Kenema to the Sierra Leone border town of Gendema.

Residents say for many years now politicians have been promising to pave the road. “We are tired of promises and lies. Our people are suffering. How can sick people and pregnant women go to hospitals on bad roads? How can we market our goods?” asked Joseph, a businessman in Zimmi, pointing out that the road is claiming lives in more ways than one.

Breakdown of vehicles along the road is commonplace with commuters spending the night in the middle of nowhere sometimes compounded by no mobile network coverage. Vehicles now use very narrow feeder roads dotted with rickety bridges while some commuters use commercial motorcycles. Scenes of vehicles stuck in the mud with tired and hungry commuters struggling to get them out are common scenes along the route.

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Commuters use a manually operated barge to cross the Moa River along the Bo – Gendema highway

“This road is a complete shame for a country that is so endowed with natural resources,” observed a foreign national, using a commercial motorcycle called “okada” to arrive at the border before it closes for the day by 6p.m.

“This road is not just for SLPP or APC supporters. It is for all Sierra Leoneans. I have decided not to vote for any political party or politician if this road is not paved. This is a complete embarrassment to our country,” remarked Joshua, a Sierra Leonean resident in Monrovia, the Liberian capital.

Sierra Leone Roads Authority officials say plans have been concluded for work to begin on the road in 2014, but most residents and commuters are not amused and maintain that they will only believe when they see it happening.