“We know what Lofa can do; we know what Lofa wants; when we give you road, you are capable of feeding Liberia like you did before the war,” Minister Woods stated on Christmas Eve when he, along with Lofa County Senior Senator Sumo Kupee, broke ground for the rehabilitation of the Massambolahun-Mbaloma road.
The ground breaking ceremony for the 25 kilometers road took place in the home of Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan, Fangom—a town connected with Massambolahun.
The stretch of road on which vehicles had never plied was built with bare hands from the early 1960s and completed in 1982, elders and chiefs said.
It takes at least three hours walk to cover the distance between the two major towns of Lofa's food-producing belt, but people would cover the same distance in less than 30 minutes when it is open to vehicles, Public Works Lofa's Resident Engineer Robert Gibson said.
“Today, as we break ground for this road, you will no longer need to build roads with your hands in this county as you have done in the past,” the Infrastructure Minister stated at a brief honoring ceremony for him before he performed the ground breaking. “That period on building road with your hands is over.”
Minister Woods told the people that the government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was committed to addressing the plight of Lofans for roads, to enable them move and trade easily, to take their farm produce to the market and to feed the nation.
“The President wants to thank you for your patience and hard work, for all the support you have given this government,” Woods stated, describing himself as a messenger to the president.
“Every time you complain about roads, roads, and roads; that's all you want…. Lofa wants road first and last, and we will work with you and your children in government and at the legislature to bring roads here—to open your farm to market roads,” Woods told a jubilant gathering of predominantly elders and chiefs of Kolahun District on Christmas Eve.
In addition to the Massambolahun-Mbaloma road, the Ministry, through local contractors, is currently expanding and reopening Popalahun-Kailahun (23 km) and the Honeyahun-Nyandimolahun (12 km) road which are critical routes in Kolahun Districts.
Woods said more feeder roads will be opened in the county as the major roads get rehabilitated. “When we open all the big roads, then we will begin to open the smaller ones that go to the farms and markets so that you can sell your farm produce to send your children to schools and to supply Monrovia and other places,” he said.
Kolahun District Commissioner Morris Tamba expressed gratitude to the Minister and the government of Sirleaf for the development now being extended to the county, and his district in particular. He pledged his people's support to any development initiative. “We are ready to do anything to bring development here. Our people, the young people, are here to work,” he said.
He warned Monrovia-based Lofa citizens to desist from running the affairs of the locals while they sit in the capital, knowing nothing about the development back home. “No, they can't be in Monrovia and run this place for us,” he stated.
Senator Kupee assured his people that the road projects in the county will continue, pledging government's commitment in reducing the suffering of the people of Lofa in terms of road and communication problems. He described the groundbreaking of the road work as an excellent Christmas gift for Kolahun District.
Momo Hinnah, a sectional Chief of the district said the road, Massambolahun-Mbaloma, was built between 1961-9182. We built this road with our hands to Keihai River…today we Are happy to see a yellow machine on it; it's a story we will tell our children.” He applauded the Minister of Public Works for leaving his office to identify with them in the forest. “We have not seen a minister coming here to us, and we are happy for you,” the Gbabdi chief said through an interpreter.
Other elders and Chiefs including Moiba Dolleh, Kowo Koikoi, Blama Ngaima, among several others, in separate statement sing praises on the minister and the government before they gowned him in traditional attires for helping to change their situation through roads construction in the country, specifically the Kolahun-Vahun road project.