After 169 Years

Joe River District Celebrates First Major Gov. Project
Written By: Paul M. Kanneh
“We never see this kind of thing before. This is the first time we see this type of bridge. The road that’s entering here was built by logging company. Government never build road here yet”, these were the exact words of a tradition chief of Gbuezohn Chiefdom.
Residents of Joe River District on Saturday, January 23, 2015 converged in Bahn Town to celebrate what they termed as the first government project since the founding of their district.
“This is our first government project since 169 years”, claimed Traditional Chief Bah Johnson who delivered a brief history on Gborngnee River on which the bridge was constructed. 
Joe River District is located in Electoral District #1 in Rivercess County. It is represented by Hon. Alfred G. Juweh, Sr. Located about 117 kilometer (75 mile) away from the capital of neighboring Grand Bassa County, the district is among several isolated communities in Liberia.
Traditional Chief Johnson specifically recalled how since the administration of President William V.S Tubman, the man most Liberians refer to as the initiator of modern day Liberia, his district has never benefited from government project. 
He explained that the concrete bridge project is the first of its kind in Gbuezohn Chiefdom, and that it was the first time his people have seen such a bridge. 
According to old man Bah Johnson, prior to the construction of the bridge, most neighboring towns in Joe River District were accessible only to vehicles during dry season. He described life before the bridge as something to remember in the history of their district, specifically Bahn town.   
The traditional chief, who openly accused logging companies of doing little to impact the lives of the people of Joe River District-yea Rivercess County, recalled how they used to walk 3 hours with sick people including pregnant women in hammer just to get them to the nearest health center for treatment.  
Delivering a special remark at the dedication ceremony of the bridge on behalf of his boss, Deputy Public Works Minister for Rural Development, Jackson J. Paye urged the people of Joe River District to take ownership of the project.  
He added that the Ministry of Public Works under the leadership of Gyude Moore will continue to talk to development partners to bring more projects in Rivercess County, especially Joe River District. 
He said that, as a man who grew-up in rural communities, he is very sensitive to the plight of rural dwellers, noting that his first assignment as Assistant Minister for Civil Works in the 80s was implemented in rural communities in Grand Gedeh and Lofa Counties. 
Also speaking at the occasion was District #1 Representative Alfred G. Juweh, sr, the man behind the project. In his overjoyed remarks, Rep. Juweh described the day as a new dawn for his people.
 According to him, the bridge project was in fulfillment of his campaign promises to the people of District #1 in the political district of Monweh. 
The shy looking lawmaker put the cost of the bridge project at US$80,000.00 funded under the Legislative Project. He stated that the bridge is 41 in length and 25 in width. 
The District #1 lawmaker disclosed that his dream to construct bridge over the Gborngnee River dates back to his youthful age when he learned that people were getting drawn in the river due the lack of bridge. 
Such backwardness in “modern” day Liberia is not only unique to the people of Joe River District, but several local communities across Liberia. It can be recalled that, it was in 2009 that vehicle entered the town of Belle Yalla. Despite being the host of Liberia’s infamous prison, the town of Belle Yalla remained without car road until 2009 when President Sirleaf decided to visit them. 
Also in 2012, the people of Piata in Bong County experienced what they referred to as a dream comes through when the government of Liberia dedicated a 40km bridge linking Gbonota to Piata in Sanuyea District, lower Bong County. Residents at the dedication program claimed, that was the first time vehicle entered their town since 32 years.  
Edited by: MPW Public Affairs