India gifts 25 buses to Liberia

New Delhi/Monrovia, Nov 4 (IANS) India has donated some 25 buses to Liberia to transport students to and from the only institution of higher learning in the West African nation, as also general commuters in and around capital Monrovia.

This is part of India’s efforts to build more bridges with Africa in ways that directly benefit its people.

According to official sources in Monrovia, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has asked the authorities at the National Transport Authority to distribute these 90-seat buses among the nation’s 15 political sub-divisions and ensure they are protected and maintained.

The gift comes at a time when thousands of Liberians, notably students of the University of Liberia, face acute transportation problem due to shortage of vehicles. The students had even given an ultimatum in this regard to the authorities recently.

Located 7.5 km from Monrovia, the Fendell campus is home to the colleges of science, technology, agriculture and forestry, with over 5,000 students.

The main campus of the university is just across the street dividing it from parliament, the president’s official home and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and. Some students are even reported to have caused some disturbances there.

‘India will continue to work with Liberia and respond to the many development challenges confronting it,’ said India’s Honorary Consul General in Liberia Upjit Singh Sachdeva, while handing over the buses.

He recalled that besides the buses, India has also been identifying with the government and people of Liberia several other areas of human endeavours for assistance, such as the scholarships to students to attend professional courses in India.

Sirleaf thanked India and hoped the buses will help ease the transportation problems of people and said it was a befitting gift to mark the 72nd birth anniversary of Liberia, that fell Oct 29. The country has a population of nearly four million

Accompanied by government and transport department officials, she also commissioned the buses with a ride through some of the major streets in and around Monrovia, cheered by bystanders.

A team of Indian auto engineers and technical personnel in also in Liberia to teach how to maintain the busses and repair them in the case of any mechanical breakdown. They will be pressed into service soon, officials said.

(Alaskai Johnson can be contacted at alasjmore@gmail.com)

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