• By: C. Y. Kwanue

Historical Town of Butuo Falls Off From the Republic of Liberia

Buutuo Town, near the Liberian/Ivorian border in northeast Nimba County, has virtually been cut off from the rest of the towns and hamlets in the district due to the deplorable condition of the road, which now prevents vehicles from reaching the town.

The town, which is the headquarter of Buuyao Electoral District #5, is infamously remembered as the place where the Liberian armed rebellion began on December 24, 1989, as fighters from the National Patriotic Front of Liberia - NPFL (now disbanded), under the command of its now imprisoned leader Charles Ghankay Taylor, fired the first gunshot.

Residents of Buutuo told the Daily Observer recently how frustrated they are with the looming hardship resulting from the condition of the road, "because we have, on a series of occasions, appealed to all stakeholders to recondition the road, but to no avail," said one resident.

In previous interviews, Nimba County Assistant Development Superintendent David Dorr Cooper assured Nimbaians of reconditioning the road networks by 2018.

This assurance did not go down well with Annie W. Quelleh, one of the female advocates in Buutuo, who told this newspaper how disturbing the situation is, especially for marketers whose goods are often left to rot as a result of the almost impassable road.

"We see ourselves being neglected by central government since our appeal to help ease our transportation woes, that would at least give the district a sense of dignity, have fallen on deaf ears," Madam Quelleh cried.

Taylor's Former Wartime Executive Mansion

She blamed poor economic activities in the area on the deplorable road, which frustrates the local business community.

During a tour of the district over the weekend, the Daily Observer interviewed many other locals, who complained that their district has been abandoned and left to suffer because of the poor condition of the road network.

"I am sure you came by a motorbike and you experienced what we have been going through for many years," a classroom teacher, Harry Fray, told our reporter, adding, "It is not a good experience," and he hopes for government's intervention.

As a former social worker, Mr. Fray believes that the poor condition of the road has made it extremely difficult for the residents to engage in projects that would enhance their lives.

"We worry about the deplorable roads," a former customs examiner in the area said. "There are many large potholes filled with muddy water. Traveling on a bike from one town to the main road means you need to stop somewhere to clean yourself, which means changing your clothes as soon you enter the big city."

Tiatun Mianmean said while some portions of the farm-to-market roads in the district were given a facelift during the rainy season, the exercise demonstrated the county administration's interest in making life easier for residents.

At least, "the government should know that roads that connect Buutuo with other nearby towns such as the Yao Gbloulay, the home of the late Jackson F. Doe, and neighboring districts have remained equally deplorable," added Mianmean.

"The danger is that whenever any resident here is sick, we don't have the means to rush them to hospital, because vehicles are not available here, least to mention the presence of an ambulance," a male registrar at Buutuo Clinic noted.

Another resident said, "I am losing faith in those who have the duty to represent our district but would not do what is necessary in this situation."

The resident, a female student, said she could not understand why the Ministry of Public Works or the county authority do not consider it urgent to get the road rehabilitated during this dry season.

She wondered the value of them voting people into office when it makes no difference to their suffering.

The Butuo River, An Unmanned Border Crossing Point

Several residents interviewed in the district expressed similar disappointment, especially over the main route connecting Bahn, Zoe-geh headquarter, with Buutuo. Therefore, the residents have appealed to the Ministry of Public Works and Rep. Samuel Korga to rush to their aid before this year's rainy season begins.

Meanwhile, Nimba County resident engineer Lahaison Warity said he is being replaced and therefore could not give immediate solution to the bad road network.

Buu-Yao District is one of the 17 districts of Nimba County. The population was 40,007 as of 2008 National Population and Housing Census.

Ellen's Historic Visit

It is over such concerns that President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf on September 26, 2011, made an historic visit to the town promising to recondition the road. But since that time, residents are still hoping against hope that one day their road nightmare would be history.

The President's visit came at the time when she was seeking re-election, and had gone to Buutuo as part of her campaign throughout the vote-rich county.

Liberia's presidential and representative elections are slated for October 11 this year, but it remains uncertain which of the vying politicians will take the bull by the horns and fix the roads once and for all.

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