The story of UNMIL [Book]: Bailey bridge - connecting Liberia
A significant impact which the military forces had on local communities was providing vocational training. The UNMIL force worked closely with Armed Forces of Liberia engineers to train local residents on how to maintain roads and bridges so that they would be able to reconstruct these transportation lines of communication once UNMIL has left the country. All troop contributing countries took part in Liberia’s reconstruction either via rebuilding efforts or training. Road reconstruction was a constant battle for the engineering battalions, as after every rainy season, the dirt roads that stretched across the country supplying the villages would be destroyed.
UNMIL military engineers worked tirelessly filling in large holes while smoothing the roadways to ensure they were passable. When travel is blocked, villages cannot receive necessary supplies, and produce from the communities cannot be transported into the cities. After every rainy season, the engineers also worked on bridges, which would collapse due to flooding. Bridges are also essential and play a significant role in uniting communities and enhancing everyday life.
As a quick-impact project, UNMIL force engineers constructed a Bailey bridge in the Sinje community of Grand Cape Mount County.
The bridge was the culmination of a joint planning, training and construction project that included the Ministry of Public Works, the AFL, UNMIL and the US Embassy. Bridge building was part of the UNMIL mandate to assist the Government of Liberia in capacity building and infrastructure development.
This bridge now allows around 400 students to study at the University of Liberia. Many of them commute long distances, now shortened by the bridge. This bridge also plays a vital role in the movement of people, agricultural products and commercial goods between the counties of Grand Cape Mount, Gbarpolu and Lofa. The bridge has united communities and contributed to the pursuit of higher education, fundamental buttresses to the sustainability of peace.