Banner Image: SCNL team and local daily hires repairing a damaged bridge on the Komgba Highway in Gbarpolu County. Friday, August 27, 2021. The DayLight/Varney Kamara

By Varney Kamara

KUMGBOR, Gbarpolu County – In order to ensure easy access to the Gola National Park and create free movement of goods and services, a nongovernmental organization, Society for the Conservation of Nation of Liberia (SCNL), has begun repairing and reconstructing damaged bridges along the reserve.

“It is our expectation that after this project, locals in the community will also have smooth travels and increased commercial activities in the area,” said Michael Tarie, SCNL’s program manager in an interview with The DayLight. “The road has been extremely deplorable. Bridges are down. Cars can no longer ply it. Business people are getting stuck daily.”

The overall goal of the road rehabilitation project is to ensure that the park is protected, and that people have the chance to commute freely between Monrovia and Kongba district, Tarie said.  

Barely a month ago—SCNL, an NGO, which helped establish the park—began repair works on seven bridges linking the Bomi Wood town to communities in Kumgbor. The total cost of the 21-kilometer stretch of dirt road project, which is expected to be completed in two months, is US$20,000. When finished, the road is expected to benefit thousands of citizens from Bomi, Grand Cape Mount, and Gbarpolu Counties. The rehabilitation has seen the mobilization of 26 daily hires, who are involved in roadside brushing and reconstruction of damaged bridges.

SCNL newly reconstructed brige on the Kumgbor highway in Gbarpolu County. Friday, August 27, 2021. The DayLight/Varney Kamara

“We are asking other [civil society] groups to join in these road repair works. The more we fix community roads, the better our environment would become, and the better it would be safe for all of us,” Taire said. The European Union and Rainforest Trust are partnering with the SCNL for the project.   

The road repair works come in the wake of heavy rainfall, which leaves rural communities inaccessible yearly. Kumgbor is one of the biggest and remotest towns within Kongba District. It roads are dangerous, full of rough terrains for moving vehicles. It is full of steep and wet hills with potholes scattered on the yellowish-brown ground. 

“We are really suffering here. We want other NGOs to come and join the SCNL to help fix our roads, said Alex Musa, a community leader. “The Government, too, must step in. It has forgotten us for a very long time.” 

The Gola National Park, an 88,000-hectare forest. Created by an Act of legislation in 2016, Gola National Park is recognized as one of the most important forests in West Africa. It has over 60 different plant and animal species, including pygmy hippopotamus, African forest elephant, zebra duiker, chimpanzee, Diana monkey and western red colobus.  

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