Liberia - Transportation

In 2002 there were an estimated 10,600 km (6,586 mi) of public roads, of which only about 657 km (408 mi) were paved. Private roads built by rubber and lumber companies were mostly laterite-surfaced roads. Important paved roads connect Monrovia to the interior as far as the Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Côte d'Ivoire borders. There is major deterioration reported on all highways due to lack of maintenance since the civil war began. In 2000, there were 17,100 registered passenger autos, and 12,800 commercial vehicles. Except for short-line buses, virtually all of Liberia's common carriers are taxicabs.

Railway lines in the country cover 490 km (2304 mi). Liberia's railways in 2002 were all owned by foreign steel and financial interests in conjunction with the Liberian Government and used for transportation of iron ore from mines to the ports of Buchanan and Monrovia. One of these, the Lamco Railroad, closed in 1989 after iron ore production ceased; the other two were shut down by the civil war. Large sections of the rail lines have been dismantled, and an estimated 60 km (37 mi) was exported for scrap.

The Free Port of Monrovia, opened in 1948, underwent substantial improvements during the late 1960s, so that ships with a draft up to 14 m (45 ft) can now be handled. A port used primarily for iron ore export was opened at Buchanan in 1963. These two deepwater ports handle over 98% of all cargo. Smaller ports, located at Greenville and Harper, handle mainly log exports. Many foreign-owned ships are registered in Liberia because of low fees and lenient labor laws. Liberia's registered merchant fleet in 2002 totaled 1,513 vessels (1,000 GRT or over) with 51,912,244 GRT.

Robertsfield, 58 km (36 mi) from Monrovia, is the site of the sole international airport. In 2001, there were 47 airports, of which only 2 had paved runways. Medium-sized jets and small aircraft, including those of Air Liberia, provide service from Spriggs Payne Airport on the outskirts of Monrovia to destinations within Liberia.

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