Authorities at the Ganta Port of Entry in Nimba County say that the news of the Ebola Virus has drastically slowed activity (business and trade) between Liberia and Guinea, causing low revenue intake at the usually-busy border.
The Chief Assessor at the Custom Collectorate, Josiah Washington, told the Daily Observer recently that prior to the spread of the Ebola news, people were moving in and out of the two neighboring countries doing a lot of business. However, upon hearing that the disease was contagious and had been ‘killing people in Guinea,’ people of both countries slowed down their activities.
“The news is creating fear in people; they are hardly moving about as in the past. As we speak, only one vehicle has crossed from Guinea to Liberia today, and this has a serious negative consequence on revenue intake at this border,” Mr. Washington said.
Though he did not say how much the intake per day or month at this port of entry usually is, Mr. Washington indicated that the amount recently realized, is far below what came in before the Ebola outbreak.
He had no suggestion as to what could be done to restore the generation of revenue at the border; he did say that Ebola issue is health-related and only Ministry of Health & Social Welfare can give assurance to people to do away with the fear associated with news of the deadly Virus.
The spread of the news of Ebola has not only caused low revenue intake for the Custom Collectorate at the Ganta border; it has stirred fear amongst those working at the border.
Speaking to reporters, the head of joint security at the port of entry, Maj. Betty Benson, said fear has gripped them as the news continues to hit them.
According to Maj. Benson, they have been cautioned to use masks over their noses and wear gloves to avoid contacting the skin of others; that, she added, increases fear amongst them as their work requires interacting with people.
“Our fear reduced a bit when Francis Ketteh (MD) told us not to avoid people but take preventive measures by observing hygienic methods. But the news is so scary; we are afraid and skeptical about dealing with the few people that use this route to go in and out of Liberia,” Maj. Benson said.
Also speaking, the Port Health Officer at the border, Milton Suah said they are only at the border because it is a duty area where they are assigned, but not much work is going on because people are not moving in and out as compared to the past.
Mr. Suah intoned that movement of people has come to a standstill as a result of the news of Ebola outbreak.
A source told the Daily Observer that workers no longer use the latrine built at the border, but use the bush to defecate because they do not want to contract the Ebola Virus.
News about Ebola began spreading in Liberia in March this year when suspected cases were discovered in Guinea.
After a few days it was reported in Liberia that suspected cases had been reported from Lofa County. Specimens of about seven persons had been taken to France, and out of the seven, two had proved positive.
Since then, spread of the news of the dreaded disease has increased, with the Ministry of Health & Social Welfare cautioning people to avoid eating Bats and bush-meat, which are presumed to have the virus.