Deadliest Roads | Liberia | Free DocumentaryFeb 27, 2020
Every year in late summer, violent tropical storms descend on Liberia in West Africa, the small, seemingly godforsaken country has no choice but to accept its fate. The rain is a bad omen for the wildlife and his small van, like all the taxi drivers he knows. The downpours will make his life difficult but he is still in good spirits. I want money, yes, money. I never get tired if you are tired and do nothing, what are you going to eat for several weeks? The capital, Monrovia, has been subjected to a deluge in a matter of minutes. The city. is paralyzed and reduced to almost total chaos and it is the same story throughout the country in such conditions fathanah is having trouble getting to work at the taxi terminal that passes through Monrovia a market that has closed the torrent of rain has forced merchants to close their stores The blame is the sewers that are blocked and overflowing.
A Chinese company was supposed to have cleaned them. Come here, look at the rains that are flooding. The rain has forced us to upload our products. We are not making money right now. The government has to do it. something the sewers are too small and overflowing the chinese simply took the money and ran the red light the parking lot is the jeepney station the starting point for all trips in Liberia destroyed by 15 years of civil war Liberia has little infrastructure and the the countryside lacks almost everything that travelers supply it using the bush taxis Farnaz's taxi is ready to leave you have not loaded enough rice it is still there there is still room we can load more for the farmers the four-wheel drive she is already crushed by the weight of her load but to earn extra money she is happy to exceed the limit problem we can load love 30 bags ok, we will load another 30 bags and five boxes my car is very powerful very strong can you load Rox pack him with bags until let the suspension brake my car is called no bad days, you'll see how it handles in the mud, come on, get on board, make room there, okay, okay, the Farnaz van seems to absorb an infinite amount of passengers and the bags of Sarang rice are all neatly stacked to arrive.
Greenville, on the other side of the country, asks a small fortune for wildlife, the equivalent of two weeks' salary. It will take 20 years per passenger. Why is it expensive? The road is very complicated. There are so many accidents. Cars overturned, others trapped in ditches. It is the same day and night night and day from Monrovia to Greenville for the fauna we will have to deal with the road that winds through the mud for about 300 kilometers Liberia is a country in reconstruction much of its population barely earns enough to buy food and In the country everyone, including children, is forced to work a life of misery that is shamelessly exploited by the evangelical church if you have one hundred and fifty bills bring them if you have one hundred bills bring those two give them to God he will bless you despite all the prayers nothing comes to alleviate the plight of those who are forced to hit the road we are not animals to Farnaz eleven passengers are looking forward to the trip there is still not much work on the van which he has repaired to the best of his ability.
I don't need a key no, well here it is, anyway, does the car work? I have driven this car for ten years. We will do a little more than 300 kilometers too soon and the first problems arise. The rain has turned the road into an undefined highway. track heaved by the endless flow of trucks there are always accidents here the overloaded cars often overturn these old trucks don't transport wood you see, but the logging companies don't care about the state of the
roadsall they want is the word the government really should have the
roadsrepaired the kilometers illuminated by the axial stresses and the suspension is suffering the passengers can take it too long 21 years for the fauna takes the potholes and the terrible roads in stride their only fear is the bandits who live in the forest the third opponent whose father the bandit assaults travelers they steal money and goods and then disappear into the forest we are afraid of them because we have nothing to defend ourselves with and they are armed and sometimes people are killed the city is not much safer but fathanah has no choice he needs Filling up at the only pumps on the trip The gas station never shows prices Listen to how much for 20 leaders who are the same as always Filling up is often a dubious business, you soon realize that you have no idea how much gasoline has been pumped into the tank, according to the manager, it is put for additional liters, enough is paid, so you can't complain.
I'm no feat, but you're trying to scam me. take it from me you haven't given me what I paid I have given you the money I have paid you already now give me another four liters and we will finish no no I will not do it I have already given you 25 liters what twenty finally how can you say that okay, continue with your four liters give me another six liters the new government of Liberia is doing what it can to repair the roads destroyed by 15 years of savage war on this stretch it is building a vital new Bridge It is a difficult challenge Accumulated methods and speed are essential The old makeshift bridge could collapse at any moment.
The man in charge has also done what he can. You see the bridge. They will not last more than two years. He probably would. It collapses before that every time a truck passes by the bridge bends under its weight it is very dangerous because of the way it shakes it is worrying the wooden scaffolding barely stays standing the next few minutes there could be a storm at any moment it could be sunny and 30 minutes later there could be a terrible downpour, water levels can rise very quickly and if you are working here it is best to abandon work and moving over the fragile structures over the water involves some acrobatics, especially as workers often do not have suitable shoes Oh my shoes.
They are too old and I can't afford new ones. When I started working here my shoes were new, but all the climbing has completely worn them out. Everything is scarce in Liberia, even the most basic material, gravel, for example, is essential to make concrete. But in the country under reconstruction there is not a single company that produces it for a handful of Liberian dollars. It is the poorest who go to the quarries to break the rocks into pebbles, some of them barely ten years old. How do you make five, not six? Marie has arrived early this morning with her children all day and the sun is breaking stones I am here because times are difficult I bought a lot of stones for two euros I turn them into gravel and then I sell them to make some money to feed my children My husband abandoned my children and me two years ago I don't have any man to help me now how many children do you have with eight? three little ones go to school but not the oldest one she doesn't go to school I hope to enroll in school this year, but at the moment I don't have enough money when I see my friends going to school I tell my mother that I want to go too and she says that she has no money and that she needs to break a lot of stones to be able to pay for school.
The little the family earns is not enough to pay for uniforms and school supplies. The small workers sell the gravel to a woman in Monrovia. Everyone calls her shabby and shabby. very picky about the size of the pebbles I don't want big stones just small pebbles if someone brings me that garbage they won't pay them come on fill the containers to the top I will buy them and I need to leave immediately but I want small stones extracted the big ones that don't pay let me see your stones you look at my stones totty totty takes her time inspecting the stones she has no mercy for the children who have to wait for her carrying 20 kilos of stones on her head I'll take those two boxes so much hard work for so little how much you earned fifty cents in one day too and his family earns one hundred and fifty Liberian dollars the equivalent of one and a half euros even when Tati's truck arrives the children still do not get relief by separating and selling the stones is not enough, they also need to pour them into the container of the truck after 12 hours of work, the family returns home.
Klaatu, the eldest, still has homework to do after she is finally able to review her siblings' lessons. and my sisters learned at school get your alphabets my brother is teaching me to read that way when I go to school I already know how back on the mud road and after a day of shivering about four Farnaz passengers are exhausted the baby is sick and has a fever even if he distrusts the bandits fathanah decides to drive all night the child needs to see a doctor as soon as possible but suddenly, in the middle of nowhere, the road is blocked, dozens of vehicles are stuck and There is no way to pass, the father asks his passengers to get off.
There are a lot of cars stuck here and it's the only way to get through. You will have to push these cars to get past and it is this four wheel drive that is holding everyone up. I'm stuck. I've tried everything but I can't
freemyself. How long have you been stuck here? Almost three hours. If that car can get him out of the mud, then we can get the other one and these. two can help each other slowly, slowly, we will solve this one after another, why don't you go around them? The problem is that there is only one peak.
The men make an extra effort but it is in vain. It is decided that towing before wheel drive could work and an improvised cable is used. There are cables worn out from old times and the various attempts end in failure the night is wet and cold and while the passengers can only wait stressed and hungry heroically the drivers keep trying they bring stones to fill the trenches at 3:00 in the morning a vehicle has been
freed but the joy is short-lived when it begins a pour again the rescue effort is quickly abandoned he is still there to find out what is going on and I will have to spend the night here there is no alternative right now yes I will sleep what about the women, where are they under the tarp up there So what will you do? do it later, well, we'll try to get going early in the morning, yeah, 5:00 a.m. m., since the fauna wakes up with good news.
Wait until the other vehicles make a U-turn and then you can start a slightly smarter driver as the others have found another way through the forest. What are you doing right? I will take the other road and pass or the 4x4 will go back but the improvised road is not easy there is another road but everyone wants to follow it at the same time come on it's your turn now in a joyful confusion all the vehicles rushed towards this unexpected escape route the father He is very happy the terrible night is finally over Hannah is really good he will always get through no matter what but this woman has nothing to smile about her baby still has a fever and is dehydrated the baby wants a drink but there is no water he wants water yes but there is no so I'm not happy why I'm upset about the passengers everyone will be late now to make up for lost time for the wildlife step on the accelerator at dawn it's raining again and the temperatures drop to just 18 degrees after a night outdoors huddled under an improvised blanket the passengers are frozen throughout the region the rivers have overflowed there is a flood in the neighboring town but the locals are resigned the mayor is interested in showing how bad the situation is and seeing that is mine that is where I raised chickens and pigs and there are many other animals some of them drowned we need to help my neighbors they flooded my name is George pay how many of you are here there are six of us who live here the waters flooded everything look at this your house yes, this is mine. can you still cook?
This is the kitchen? Yes, but how can you cook here, there in the hallway? But the downpour does not spell disaster for everyone. Benford, one, is happy when it rains along with his friends. Benford has created a new business when the flood stops. traffic help travelers cross the swollen river they only need to persuade them to give them something in exchange for their help they cannot cross without us we will carry their packages that will cost 40 cents and we will also take a motorcycle, very good my motorcycle yes, we will take it no It would be expensive to cover the exhaust pipe with a plastic bag.
The bag will cost 10 cents. The current is getting stronger and the motorcycle runs the risk of being swept away. The water continues to rise and also the cost of a lift. I paid 80 cents to have them carried. my motorcycle and these are the earnings of the morning the cost of the cold and the shivering bodies oh it's too cold I'm going home to warm up and then I'll be back it's time to share the money hey why are you giving him something he wasn't wearing anything right give me my money back give me five I promise you five cents I will pay you and I will share the rest with the children then we all live in the same house anyway they thawed the priority at home is to dry the dollars there is never enough to last long it is inferred that in the afternoon we will return to work In the rain after the deluge the track is reduced to a succession of mud puddles that are difficult to clean.
To pass before each hill, the passengers have to dismount and then have to climb the hills on foot through the mud, another odyssey, butit's the only way four wheel drive vehicles can overcome morale isn't exactly good among passengers and there are more more complaints babies tonight you see the way for wildlife however it's in good shape showing off to keep up the pretensions and possibly reassuring passengers you are also not willing to lose your reputation as the best driver in this part of the country, was it easy? for you but not everyone has yours lucky a few kilometers back Maurice another driver runs into a hill his engine is destroyed that is of no use the vehicle refuses to move forward assistants and passengers lend a hand and push the vehicle with its smooth tires at any time the The car could slide and crush them.
It looks like the engine is going to melt, but Morris isn't worried, he knows how to deal with an overheated engine, what are you doing, how engines get hot, so I'm trying to cool it down and this time , with a good push, the vehicle. Go up and over the hill from here, the road crosses a series of rivers and there are no bridges, it is common to get stuck for days waiting for the water levels to drop. The road to Greenville is long and painful for us drivers. We suffer, yes, we, the passengers also suffer there, they are in a hurry to arrive but they will be late.
The roads are very bad without a four wheel drive vehicle and a good mechanic you would never get there but we drivers know our own vehicles and we always make it in the end and as soon as fathanah starts bragging that his vehicle inevitably breaks breakdown in Liberia, the gasoline is usually of poor quality, which makes the filters dirty easily for fathanah, this is a good routine, but the battery is also getting tired, the only solution is to push you never rest never why not because when I drive I am the owner you take better care of your car than your body yes because if I don't earn money I won't receive any respect not even my wife if I don't earn anything she will go with someone else drivers love money if one day I fall in love with a woman and I don't have money the woman won't stay if I had to choose between women and money then I choose money stop my town is right there Greenville the final destination the passengers can breathe a sigh of relief it has been three hard days and three hundred harder kilometers Agnes is happy to be reunited with your family and then it's time to pay for the wildlife.
How much does it cost? US dollar today $75 for one of us, here's $2000, so I owe two thousand seven hundred and two thousand for you and seven hundred for your assets Lawrence, yes, Lawrence, come here, where did that seven hundred come from? Tell me two thousand in total at the beginning. you're crazy I'm going to get your bags and put them back in the truck yeah, keep your money okay, okay, okay, I'll pay the difference if anything is missing, you'll be responsible. I haven't touched your things. Just put it in the back of the car nothing has been opened one two three four five six seven three once the fauna is taken care of get back behind the wheel with a little luck it will take me a day less to get back to Monrovia Agnes is a From the few merchants in town with money borrowed from her father, she bought many different products, including some very nice thongs from China, for how much when you asked for them, five a pair, you bought them at 4-2 and sold them for five .
I don't have anything. I asked my father to lend me two hundred US dollars in Monrovia. I bought the thongs to make a small profit, but my father made me pay almost 30 US dollars. It's expensive, but I had to pay now. She needs to sell the phones, which could be complicated in a town where some people have money without hesitation. She offers the traditional credit technique and that could lead to over-indebtedness. The neighbors cannot resist the thongs of the big city in business. fast each pair costs five and a half euros in cash or five euros on credit Agnes will have to follow up frequently to collect the money she is owed.
I don't have the fifty cents, I pass by every day, if you have the money, give me the fifty cents now and you can pay the rest later. At the end of the day, Agnes has only sold a few pairs on credit to expand her customer base. She prefers to trust in God every Sunday. She visits the Pentecostal church in Greenville to pray, but for the evangelical mass it's all about money, the well-being of the community. the soul can be bought for a few handfuls of Liberian dollars as far as the pastor is concerned there can never be enough donations whether you have 500 or 250 bring it if you have 150 or 100 dollar bills hand them over.
I'll take anything from hundreds of 50, bring it all. Don't stop giving them to God, he will bless you to help in this scandal. There is a lot of commotion. Shepherds have every reason to look happy. The three own six churches in Greenville, with seven collections at each church. They make a small fortune every Sunday. After the ceremony the shepherds have no qualms about parading in their well-cut suits and Italian shoes, they have a small party to let off steam. The Catholics of Greenville are not so lucky with their ruined churches and will probably remain so until recently throughout the year.
The town was in a similar state, what has improved is the arrival of a large Indonesian company. where we live what was destroyed by the war the whole neighborhood was destroyed in the war that barrier the one who fought in the Liberian war the fighting just continued and all the houses here were affected now there is no money to rebuild look this house cost thousands of dollars and now it is destroyed my father was killed in the war and my mother too this is my sister Laura look how we live our conditions this is another sister Lisa is Nora my wife and the babies we are about 25 years old we live here all together we Almost I can afford a bowl of rice every day.
A plate costs 40 cents. It's difficult, but it's a great solution. Our job is to gather the couple you need to survive and give our children a cashier and his companions live like slaves if they want to work. they have to wait a long time in the town square at midnight yes you are we see these people spend all night here on the ground the night they have been waiting for the tractor for hours they wake up at midnight and sometimes they wait until 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning it is very difficult the tractors come now when the headlights shine on you there is a crazy race on the tractor that goes to the plantation there is not enough space for everyone this woman scared by all the pushing she stops there is a tremendous fight to get a place in the trailer if you miss work twice you will be fired I tried I can't take us all there are not enough vehicles we won't be able to make money but she will jump at the last moment and the shredder on board can barely stand we are not animals a dozen workers will not be able to get on board Italo has found a few centimeters and awaits more than an hour of uncomfortable travel to make sure he arrives on time the driver accelerates without worrying about his passengers sitting here on the edge it is dangerous a blow could knock me down and sometimes a container opens and everyone falls over the side here it could open and everyone could just slide out.
Has it ever happened? Yes, it's dawn. and crowded together, the workers suffer in silence at the edge of the plantation. Golden's trucks have scrambled the roads for those transported. This unrest continues and even the motorcycle taxis have problems arriving on time. Some finished the trip on foot. It is a risky business because they can be run over at any time. Little by little a traffic jam forms, then a truck sinks into the mud and in the midst of the chaos it eats everyone for themselves. The tractor advances a few meters but has to stop as if it were a real 4x4. the vehicles make their way through the second car they slow down and get stuck and this time the road is blocked forever the problem is that they are scamming us to get us out of this mess, we did not cause it and they asked for money to get us out of the mud there They are the drivers of multinational tow trucks, these guys are crazy, instead of waiting for us to clarify things, they keep trying to make their way and then they get stuck.
It's not our problem. You are the ones to blame for destroying the road. Finally, the tractor frees itself from the mud, but they are late to say oh and their unfortunate comrades risk having their pay cut the multinational has already cut down more than 200,000 hectares of forest in Ella the workers planting palm trees after five years, their fruit will be pressed to produce the precious palm oil palm. The extracted oil is used in food and cosmetics and is increasingly controversial. It is a profitable industry but catastrophic for the forest as soon as a plot of land is cut down. about 1,500 workers begin to plant as many palm trees as possible hunting that is all we do all day it is not for the money because our salaries are ridiculous we only earn two and a half euros a day can I afford to give my family only two?
For years and a half a day, Liberian authorities have supported these efforts and have no problem eradicating villagers in the name of profit. William used to be the mayor of one of those villages. Now there was my village and my farm, if you see these coconut trees. here they cut down hundreds of trees here there were fruit trees trees everywhere this is what's left look our own government stole we sold our land for a pittance Alice where my uncle and my father are buried the five family graves here and every day the planters leave behind the desolate landscape after war and storms Liberia today is losing its forests the country seems destined to be abused
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