In past years it took passengers hours to reach Sanniquellie due to the deployable state of the road.
Even though the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf regime ensured pavement of the road from Redlight to Ganta, the Sanniquellie segment was still difficult to reach given how the deplorable the stretch was.
Residents account that during the rainy season it would take over two hours for vehicles to deliver essential goods between the two areas as bridges would be damaged or critical sections made completely impossible.
But in 2013, the government appealed with global steel giant, ArcelorMittal, to extend pavement from Ganta to the mining town of Yekepa, a total of 69 kilometers.
The request for this assistance was made directly to Mittal, the owner of ArcelorMittal, who would agree to commit $40 million to pave the road from Ganta to Yekepa.
The US$40 million was a figure presented by the government after feasibility study for the completion of the project, that was agreed to be spearheaded by the Government of Liberia (GOL). The Public Works Ministry would design, procure, supervise and monitor the construction of the road.
Even though the project delayed owing to Ebola, COVID and repeated slum in the global price of iron ore, ArcelorMittal worked with the Weah administration and committed to full payment of the US$40 million.
This is why, today, the road has been paved up to Sanniquellie, significantly reducing travel time from about 2 hours to 30 minutes.
In a recent interview with Nimba D9 TV, business women and men in Sanniquellie hailed the construction work and praised ArcelorMittal for its commitment to develop Liberian infrastructure.
They said they believe the pavement has made easy transportation of goods and services between the two cities and also reduced associated costs.
One retailer told reporters, “The reduction in the cost of transporting goods to and from Sanniquellie is helping to stabilize prices of these very goods in Ganta and here in Sanniquellie.”
He continued, “Even if you don’t want to buy from us here, if you go to Ganta you will see the same price.”
The significance of paved road between Ganta and Yekepa cannot be overemphasized.
Local farmers in the Nimba Reserve area stand to benefit from consumables they produce given the less amount of time it now requires them to supply markets with their produce.
This is the first time for such a public infrastructural work in that area, as even LAMCO in its years of iron exploit in the Nimba Mountains did not think about the need for connecting Yekepa with paved road.