Humanitarian Crisis Looms over Kokoyah
By Jefferson Massah
Also pregnant women in the area in recent times have been dying due to lack of commercial vehicles to transport patients in critical condition to the only referral hospital in Phebe.
The District Commissioner of Jorquelleh, Edward Yarkpawolo who has been exerting efforts to have the damaged Bhelai Bridge reconstructed, lamented that he recently witnessed the death of two pregnant women in childbirth while they were en route to the Phebe Hospital.
Commissioner Yarkparwolo said the two women were carried by villagers in the hammock because vehicle was not available to have them transported from their remote village which is about two-day walk from Gbarnga.
Apart from the appalling heath condition, the prices of locally produced commodities have sharply increased in Gbarnga and its environs due to the complete breakdown of commercial activities in Kokoyah which is considered to be food basket of Bong County. The district supplies half of the food on local market in Gbarnga.
The only active means of transportation over the Bhelai River is through
a locally made ferry that usually transports light materials and people
from one end of the river to the other. But safety has become a point of
focus because commuters usually complain of accidents which always cause
them to lose their goods.
Inhabitants of Bhelai Town and surrounding villages knowing the importance of the bridge, recently gathered local materials such as sand and gravel when the European Union through a local NGO operating in Gbarnga signed a Memorandum of Understanding early this year with the county authorities to have this strategic bridge reconstructed.
However, the citizens’ high hope was dashed recently when EU Representative for Cote d’Ivoire and Liberia, Michel Arrion, visited the bridge with Bong County Superintendent Rennie B. Jackson at which time it was disclosed that the European Union could start reconstruction of the bridge in December this year or early 2007. Accordingly, resources were not available and furthermore rainy season was already around.