The devastating Ebola attack on Liberia would have caused serious starvation and total breakdown in the main channel that supplies the country’s staple food ‘rice’ and other essential commodities if the virus had hit any of the country’s four seaports, particularly, the Freeport of Monrovia. The Free Port is widely known as ‘the Gate Way to the Liberian Economy.
The situation would not have allowed shipping lines and vessel owners to give go-ahead to their vessels to berth at Liberian seaports. They would have certainly redirected traffic to other countries which would have paralyzed the country’s economy which is heavily reliant on imported goods.
Such a situation would have strongly undermined the progress being recorded in the growth development of the country’s economy since peace was restored in 2003 following the end of the 14-year brutal civil war.
Since March, 2014, exactly 10 months now, when Liberia was overwhelmed by the flame of the horrible Ebola virus disease (EVD) that has killed over 3,000 people, the Management of the National Port Authority (NPA) has made remarkable gains in protecting and safeguarding all of the country’s seaports from being hit by the deadly EVD.
Led by its hardworking Managing Director, Madam Matilda W. Parker, NPA has registered ZERO Ebola cases at all of its ports and workplaces across the country. Although the entire Liberian society has not been declared free of Ebola, the Management of the Port Authority, by vigorously enforcing all ant-Ebola measures, has been particularly careful to ensure that all the port environments were free of the virus. As a result, the four ports, Monrovia, Buchanan, Greenville and Harper, have all recorded Zero Ebola cases throughout the past 10 months during which the virus ravaged many parts of the country.
The NPA Management didn’t score the ZERO Ebola cases on a silver platter. The score is predicated upon the introduction and implementation of series of compulsory measures that are necessary to protect the seaports of Liberia from the dreadful EVD.
Key amongst the NPA’s anti- Ebola measures include: mandatory temperature check at all entry points to port facilities; issuance of none shore passes, regular hand washing, reduction in the workforce as well as the establishment of temporary care centers at the Freeport of Monrovia, Greenville, Harper and the Port of Buchanan.
In adherence to the full implementation of these measures, the NPA Management also reinforces restrictions on visitation to its facilities and announced that all port users, investment partners and the general public in particular must wear long pants/long sleeves shirts /blouses as part of a daily requirement in addition to the existing compulsory hand washing and temperature check before accessing ports.
At the same time, an updated procedural measure mandating all visa holders entering Liberia via the seaport to be subjected to screening and be required to complete and sign a health declaration form; be screened upon returning, present an Ebola Travel Health Alert Notice, and be required to complete a health advisory form.
The NPA procedural update also indicates that all passengers departing Liberia via the seaport will be subjected to screening, and be required to complete and sign a health advisory form before boarding a vessel.
A dedicated Ebola emergency number for each of the Ports and a contractual arrangement with First Responder for priority service anytime there is an emergency within the seaport facilities was also consummated by the NPA management.
Under this arrangement, First Responder will monitor the treatment/compliance regime of employee (active/inactive) sent home on 21 days isolation observation who might develop a medical situation.
In appreciation of this, the United States Based Center for Disease Control (CDC) has awarded a host of NPA staff, including Managing Director Matilda Parker, with Certificates of achievement for successfully completing a series of training in disease prevention and control, ‘Guidance for the Selection and Use of Personal Protective Equipment and Waste Management and RING model.
Also, in early August, Joanna Gaines and Tai Chen of the Center for Disease Control, through an appraiser of acclamation, indicated that the Stringent Precautionary measures being implemented by the NPA Management against the Ebola Virus are “Extreme Preventive Measures” that are also in line with certified approaches in preserving the Port facilities from being impacted by the EVD.
Consequently, normal operational activities at the four seaports within the Republic of Liberia continued to remain in tight with a clean record of Zero Ebola incident as Christmas approaches.